On Monday, veteran Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kasey Kahne driver was released from the final year of his contract at Hendrick Motorsports, where he has driven since 2012.
Friday at Michigan International Speedway, which hosts Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, Kahne got to tell the media his side of the story and what the future may hold for him.
Here are 8 things Kahne said at MIS:
Looking for a ride
Kahne isn’t the only driver without a 2018 deal. Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and others are looking for new rides, too. “There are some really good drivers that don’t have a deal done at this time that will probably end up in cars, I would think,” said Kahne. “I just feel like the opportunities are pretty slim, but I’ve always tried to be really respectful and when I’ve had the opportunity to go fast and win we have been able to win some races.”
A Hendrick alliance
Team owner Rick Hendrick said Wednesday that he’s hoping to find another Chevrolet team to form an alliance with and get Kahne in a car with that team. “I hope we can build something out of that, but I also have been working in my own direction as well on certain things to make sure I just check out everything that is out there for sure,” said Kahne. “I don’t want to miss anything, but yeah, Mr. H. has been really good about where we are at. I think we are going to come up with something that should work out pretty well.”
Staying in Cup
As far as the future, Kahne ruled out a move to the NASCAR XFINITY Series and said his intention is to stay in the Monster Energy Cup Series. “Just the Cup Series,” Kahne said. “Yeah, really just the Monster Energy Cup Series as far as NASCAR goes.”
A fresh start
Kahne said he hoped a move to a new team would jump start his career. “I think that it’s all about people again if you can get the people behind you and believe in you and then I believe in them and we work together for the same goal and that is to win races,” said Kahne. “It’s a competitive series it is a super tough series to win in and so many things have to go right for the entire race weekend and then throughout the race.”
Now that the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team knows Kahne will be gone after this season, they are rallying behind him. “(Friday) it was cool,” said Kahne. “Everybody seemed good. We just kind of went to work like always and hope to put together a really strong weekend.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick said Wednesday part of the blame for the disappointing performance of the No. 5 fell on his shoulders. “A lot of what he said this week means a lot to me because to have somebody like Rick Hendrick, Mr. Hendrick, to be on your side, even though I’m not going to be part of his team anymore, to be on your side and the power that he has in this sport and what he has done for NASCAR for this sport for so many drivers and employees over the years,” said Kahne. “To have him behind you is a really good thing. I respect that. I respect him a ton.”
By winning the Brickyard 400, Kahne punched his ticket to make NASCAR’s playoffs for the first time in three years. But Kahne knows that Hendrick Motorsports will need more speed if he’s to make a deep playoff run. “I think we all know the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and No. 18 (Kyle Busch) have been really the cars to beat the last month,” said Kahne. “The No. 42 (Kyle Larson) right before that was really strong and we have all just been a little bit off of that. So, we are working hard to get to where we want to be. The only way I’m going to get there is the people and being part of that.”
Kahne is optimistic that he can contribute to his next team. “I really think that I can come up with something good and come up with something that will be fun to be a part of and also try to work hard to make that team better than it’s ever been and myself better than I’ve been,” Kahne said. “I still have that mindset and I really hope that something works out to where I can be in a strong car next year and enjoy racing in this series.”
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