By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
For the first time in the history of the Brickyard 400, the defending champion won’t compete in the 160-lap contest.
Due to lingering effects of extreme heat exhaustion from last Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, Leavine Family Racing announced Thursday that Kasey Kahne has been ruled out to compete in the No. 95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Regan Smith has been tapped to replace Kahne at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start this season.
Smith made two starts last year, filling in for the injured Aric Almirola, and in six previous Indianapolis starts, he finished third in 2011 for Furniture Row Racing.
Kahne finished 24th at Darlington, three laps behind race winner Brad Keselowski, where after the race, he was taken to the care center to receive treatment for heat exhaustion.
A few days later, Kahne consulted with several physicians, who told the Brickyard winner to rest until further testing and evaluations are completed.
The sudden announcement marks the end Kahne’s streak of 529 consecutive starts, dating back to his debut in the 2004 Daytona 500.
With Kahne out, Greg Biffle inactive since 2016, and Derrike Cope unlisted to compete Sunday for StarCom Racing, another streak will come to an end as it’ll be the first time since the 2002 Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway that it won’t feature a single Cup driver from the state of Washington.
Last year at the Brickyard, Kahne captured one of the season’s stunning victories after rain, red flags and multiple crashes led the Enumclaw native to lock himself in the playoffs by scoring his latest of his 18 Cup wins for Hendrick Motorsports.
This season will mark Kahne’s final season in Cup as he announced that he’ll depart from NASCAR last month.
His return table has yet to be determined, but LFR will provide an update next week for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.