It’s clear that Kasey Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates know that racing is a business. Older, more expensive drivers get pushed out for younger, talented but unproven drivers.
It doesn’t mean they like it.
Kahne’s teammates rallied around him in a series of tweets that shows how close the Hendricks squad it.
Kahne noticed, and lauded his teammates.
On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports announced in a press release that it would release Kahne, the 2004 Rookie of the Year and this year’s Brickyard winner, from his contract.
It appears that Hendricks is wasting no time finding his replacement, with a report that William Byron will replace him in the No. 5.
Byron is all of 19-years-old, and his rise through the NASCAR ranks has been stunning, He’s now a rookie in the Xfinity Series, where he’s won three races. Before Xfinity, he drove for a season in the Truck Series.
Clearly, money has to be on the Hendrick’s team mind. They won’t have to pay nearly as much for Bryon as they would for a more experienced driver, like Kahne.
Kahne has driven the team’s No. 5 Chevrolet for the least six seasons. In his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, he’s won 18 times with 174 top 10 finishes.
The press release did not address what led to the split.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said, in the release:
Kasey has worked extremely hard. 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.
Kahne was classy in his remarks:
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. 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.
Kahne is the latest big name driver to sever ties with his team. Stewart Haas Racing has announced it won’t renew Kurt Busch’s deal, and might cut ties with Danica Patrick. Matt Kenseth, a former Cup Champion, won’t be retained by Joe Gibbs Racing.