Kasey Kahne announced Thursday morning in a release via his twitter that he will be stepping away from the sport full-time at season’s end, “I’ve thought about this decision for many months, if not longer. It’s time for me to step away from racing in NASCAR full time.”
The 38-year-old broke onto the scene at an early age taking the Cup Series by storm driving the No. 9 Dodge for Everham Motorsports and won six races back in the 2006 season. The 15-year veteran has 18 career wins in 527 starts at NASCAR’s highest level of competition.
The move to Hendrick Motorsports back in 2012 didn’t quite reach the expectations of many HMS brass as they had compiled themselves a super-team with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with Kahne all driving for the four-car Chevrolet team. Kahne had five wins in his first three seasons with HMS, including a pair in the first two years, but when he made the move to Hendrick, one assumed he would have championship hopes in his future running for such a world-class organization. That did not happen and in the final three years Kahne managed to win only a single race last season at Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400, but he was already on his way out at Hendrick at season’s end.
Kahne signed with Leavine Family Racing for the 2018 season to run for a smaller team and operation, but had the hopes to building the team into one that can compete at least for top-15 each week. That has not happened as Kahne currently sits 27th in the series standings. As good of a driver Kahne is or at least was, there’s nothing you can do if your cars just aren’t up to par with the competition. Kahne and the No. 95 team have mustered just one single top 10 finish all season and that came at Daytona for the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
“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,” Kahne said in his statement. He also added that he needs to spend more time doing the things he loves and enjoys, namely spending time with his son Tanner and his successful Sprint Car teams in the World of Outlaws series, which are fresh off a win at the Knoxville Nationals.
Perhaps we see Kahne run some part-time races in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports like he has in the past and accumulated eight wins in the series, or maybe even return to the Camping World Truck Series where he has five career wins in six starts, but this has to be the final chapter for Kahne racing full-time in the Cup Series. After HMS released him last season, out the window went any shot of him landing a top competitive ride and he’s not content just riding around in the back with lesser equipment. He’s going out on his own terms, and you have to respect his decision. He may be done racing full-time in NASCAR, but he’s not done winning races by any means.
“I’ve had a great career in racing and met so many amazing people and fans along the way. Thanks to everyone who believed in this kid from Enumclaw, Washington,” Kahne finished his statement with.