For the second time in as many days, another NASCAR driver announced his retirement from the series on Thursday morning. About 24 hours after Elliott Sadler’s announcement that the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series season would be his 21st and final full year in NASCAR, Kasey Kahne made a surprising announcement that the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season would be his last.
Kahne, 38, currently drives for Leavine Family Racing and there were recent reports that the two sides were working on a contract extension to keep the Washington native in the ride for at least 2019 and beyond. The main change on the horizon for the team at first was a possible manufacturer change. LFR had already announced that their alliance with Richard Childress Racing wouldn’t go past this year, so next up was deciding on whether to remain with Chevrolet or switch to either Ford or Toyota. After that, it was to work out a deal with Kahne.
See, Kahne’s contract only lasted through this season. The reason he was even with LFR in the first place was because Hendrick Motorsports despite having a year left on Kahne’s contract decided that the two sides needed to part ways. In six years with the storied organization, Kahne could only muster six wins. He did win last year’s Brickyard 400 but even that wasn’t enough to keep him around.
So Hendrick honored the one year left and is paying him this season despite Kahne driving for LFR. Meanwhile, LFR was working out a deal to put Kahne on their payroll for 2019 but Kahne thought that its best he just steps away.
“I’ve thought about this decision for many months, if not longer,” said Kahne on his Twitter page. “It’s time for me to step away from racing in NASCAR full-time. I appreciate everything LFR has done for me this season and offering me the opportunity to race in 2019. However, racing in Cup full-time for a few more years was just something that I couldn’t commit to.”
Kahne, did leave the door open to some more racing in the future in various forms of motorsports, but NASCAR appears to be done.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I know I’m at ease with the decision that I have made,” he continued. “The highs didn’t outweigh the lows and the grueling schedule takes a toll on your quality of life. I need to spend time doing the things I enjoy and love and that’s spending time with [son] Tanner and my sprint car teams.
“I’ve had a great career in racing and met so many amazing people and fans along the way, some that I’ll remain in touch with for life. We still have some work to do this year in the #95 car and I look forward to finishing the season with this team.”
Kahne, has made 527 career starts in NASCAR’s premiere series and has reached victory lane 18 times. His best year came in 2006 when he won six of those 18 races in that season alone to go along with six poles, 12 top five finishes and 19 top 10’s. His best finish this season is fourth in July’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.
Like Sadler, Kahne has also won races in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions. He’s won eight XFINITY Series races and five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Those five wins in the Trucks came in six tries. Overall, he’s made 748 career NASCAR starts at the moment with 31 wins, 145 top five finishes, 269 top 10’s, 37 poles and 6,420 laps led.