Cover Photo by HHP/Jim Fluharty
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Less than 24 hours after Elliott Sadler confirmed his impending retirement from full-time competition in NASCAR, another veteran of the sport is preparing to hang up his helmet as well.
Kasey Kahne announced Thursday morning, in a statement posted to his Twitter account, that he will conclude his full-time NASCAR career at the end of the season. Kahne has driven the No. 95 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Leavine Family Racing and will see out the rest of the schedule before moving on.
“I’ve thought about this decision for many months, if not longer,” Kahne wrote. “It’s time for me to step away from racing in NASCAR full time. I appreciate everything LFR has done for me this season and offering me the opportunity to race in 2019, however, racing in Cup full time for a few more years was just something that I couldn’t commit to. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I know I’m at ease with the decision that I have made.
“The highs didn’t outweigh the lows and the grueling schedule takes a toll on your quality of life. I need to spend more time doing the things that I enjoy and love, and that’s spending time with (son) Tanner and my sprint car teams,” Kahne added. “I’ve had a great career in racing and met so many amazing people and fans along the way, some that I’ll remain in touch with for life. We still have some work to do this year in the (No.) 95 and I look forward to finishing the season with this team.
“Thank you to everyone who believed in this kid from Enumclaw, Washington. I hope I made you all proud.”
Kahne began his NASCAR career in 2002 in what is now the Xfinity Series, racing part time for Robert Yates and competing in 20 of the 34 races that season. He contested the full schedule the next year in the Brad Akins-owned No. 38 before moving up to the Cup Series in 2004 with Ray Evernham.
Replacing Bill Elliott in the No. 9 Dodge, Kahne stormed onto the scene as a rookie, nearly winning in his second start at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway and scoring 13 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 36 races, as well as four poles. He easily took Rookie of the Year honors over Brendan Gaughan and Brian Vickers.
His career year came in 2006, when he scored six wins and six poles, but he finished eighth in points due to inconsistency and an average finish of 15.5.
Kahne went on to drive the No. 9 through the 2010 season, holding down the ride as the team morphed first into Gillette-Evernham Motorsports, then later into Richard Petty Motorsports. He was released from his contract with the team just before the end of 2010 and signed with Red Bull Racing for 2011.
Moving over to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne spent six seasons in the No. 5 Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick, impressing out of the box and finishing fourth in points during his first year there.
However, the performance eventually leveled off and Kahne endured several dismal years before breaking a three-year winless drought in last year’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In all, Kahne has 18 wins, 93 top fives, 176 top 10s and 27 poles in 527 starts over 15 years at the Cup level. His best finish this season for Leavine Family Racing is fourth, at Daytona Int’l Speedway in July.
Kahne is coming off his first Knoxville Nationals win as a car owner, after driver Brad Sweet took the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts sprint car to victory lane at the half-mile Iowa dirt track on Saturday night.