Leavine Family Racing announced on Tuesday that they have come to an agreement with Kasey Kahne to drive the No. 95 Chevrolet for the team for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The move, team owner Bob Leavine thinks, could take them to the next level in NASCAR’s premiere series.
“We look at this as an opportunity to go to the next level,” said LFR team owner, Bob Leavine. “This deals partially with performance, because obviously, Kasey is a playoff-caliber driver. He has a wealth of information being with a larger organization like Hendrick Motorsports, and we think that will help us. We also look at this as an opportunity for marketing to be able to sell sponsorship.”
Kahne, won the Brickyard 400 this past July and is a three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner. He’s made NASCAR’s verison of the playoffs seven times, including this current season. Also, by time Kahne shows up at Daytona with LFR next February, he would have made over 500 career Cup starts.
Experience, a big race winner and playoff caliber driver is something LFR hopes will take them to new heights.
But, can Kahne take them there?
Since the start of the 2014 season, Kahne has visited victory lane just twice. During that same time frame, he has just 12 top five finishes and 38 top 10’s, only four of which have come this year alone. Those aren’t very good numbers for a driver competing with a premiere team.
He’s also only led just 97 total laps over the last 89 races.
But, maybe a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe the pressure of being with a premiere team at NASCAR’s top level got the best of him. Now, he can move to LFR with more reasonable expectations.
LFR hasn’t had a ton of success with seven different drivers competing for them. Michael McDowell is the longest tenured driver for the team, but they’ve been consistently a 20-25th place team.
They’re hoping Kahne can push them further up the finishing order.
One driver though, thinks this could be the start of a rise in the sport, similar to what Furniture Row Racing did.
Brad Keselowski said on NASCAR Radio to Dave Moody that this hire and their situation could put them to where FRR is now in a few years. He cited that when Kurt Busch went to FRR, no one thought they’d be what they are today on what they were then. He said they were on the rise, but no one ever expected them to be leading the points and having the most wins in the season in 2017.
Now, from Busch to Martin Truex Jr., they’re now one of NASCAR’s top teams.
This move for LFR can be very similar to FRR in those ways and getting a driver of Kahne’s caliber and fresh eyes all around could be just that. The team has been on a consistent rise with having eight finishes of 20th or better in the last 12 races. McDowell, even finished fourth at Daytona in July.
Now, imagine if Kahne can get them near the top 10. This team is steadily rising and just needing that technical alliance relationship that FRR has with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Yes, LFR is aligned with Richard Childress Racing, but if RCR can find the speed to greatly improve, LFR would only benefit more.