By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Just two weeks ago, Kasey Kahne was celebrating his first win since 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and had seemed to help his prospects of staying with Hendrick Motorsports for another year, but even a win in one of the biggest races on the schedule couldn’t keep Kahne with the team he has driven for since 2012.
On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Kahne had been released from the final year of his contract, allowing him to pursue other opportunities for the 2018 season.
“Kasey has worked extremely hard,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “He’s a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one. I’ve always believed that he’s a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can.”
In their six years together, Kahne has visited victory lane six times behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet, but has fallen on tough times in recent years, missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and finishing in the top-10 only four times in 2017, including his Indianapolis win.
Kahne currently sits 19th in points, but his Brickyard 400 win guarantees him a spot in the 16 driver playoff field when the postseason starts next month. The Enumclaw, Washington native will look to close out his tenure with Hendrick Motorsports on a high note before going elsewhere for 2018.
“I’d like to thank Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years,” said Kahne. “We won six races together and I’m coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the (No.) 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs. We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds.”
As for who would take Kahne’s place in the No. 5 car, Hendrick Motorsports noted that they would announce their plans for 2018 at a later date.
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