Kasey Kahne out at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the current season.
CONCORD, N.C. — Kasey Kahne is out at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season.
The Brickyard 400 winner was released from the final year of his contract, allowing him to pursue another Cup ride for 2018. Team owner
Rick Hendrick did not immediately name a replacement for the No. 5 Chevrolet.
Hendrick has seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman in the fold for next season. The organization could turn to 19-year-old Xfinity Series driver William Byron to fill the seat. Former Cup champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch also don’t have contracts for next season.
Kahne, 37, will finish the season driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick. He has six victories in six seasons with Hendrick, including one at Indianapolis last month that qualified him for the playoffs.
“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,” Kahne said. “We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority.”
Kahne’s fate had been in limbo for most of the season because of years of mediocre finishes and sponsorship woes. Farmers Insurance bailed on Kahne, and Great Clips also cut ties with the driver. Great Clips had been signed as the primary sponsor for 10 races annually through the 2018 season, but that deal ended early — and so did Kahne’s run with Hendrick.
Kahne won as many as six races in 2006 driving for Ray Evernham and finished as high as fourth in the standings in 2012 driving for Hendrick. He won two races in 2013, won Aug. 31, 2014, at Atlanta Motor Speedway for career victory No. 17, and then went on a 102-race winless streak.
He opened this season with a seventh- place finish in the Daytona 500 and was fourth in Atlanta, and seemed to show he might have returned to form. But he crashed out of five races and failed to finish better than 15th in the nine races leading into Indianapolis.