Leavine Family Racing had already announced that their alliance with Richard Childress Racing past the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season would be over. Also, they were potentially looking to leave the Chevrolet camp and join either Ford or Toyota for 2019 and beyond. While all that was happening, they were also very open to signing their current driver Kasey Kahne to an extension to keep him with the team for at least the next few years.
See, Kahne is currently on contract with Hendrick Motorsports. But, the organization told the 38 year old that they both needed a change of scenery and replaced him with William Byron for this season. Hendrick meanwhile honored Kahne’s existing contract and paid him on their payroll despite him not racing in an HMS car for 2018. That’s where LFR came along.
So, LFR was looking to add Kahne to their payroll for next season since the Washington native would be a free agent. On Thursday though, Kahne announced his retirement from NASCAR starting in 2019. Now, LFR is left looking for a driver and possibly a manufacturer. While that could sound daunting, it potentially may not be.
LFR’s best option is to actually team up with a manufacturer and be a junior team to one of the top teams in the Cup Series. Think of it as to what Furniture Row Racing is to Joe Gibbs Racing. They get technical support from Toyota and cars, engines, etc from JGR. That’s how Erik Jones was placed with them for 2017.
LFR could be that to either Toyota of Ford because both manufacturers have a ton of talent coming up through the ranks but not a lot of places for them to go. Toyota only has JGR and FRR as their top teams in Cup and JGR is maxed out while FRR is searching for funding. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones are all under contract for JGR for next season. Toyota doesn’t want to lose Martin Truex Jr. or Daniel Suarez. But, they have Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Noah Gragson, Brett Moffitt, Logan Seavey and a whole bunch of other drivers coming up that are going to have no where to go soon.
Toyota has already lost William Byron and Kyle Larson for Chevrolet, you can bet that they don’t want to let any of those young stars go to a rival manufacturer either.
Ford also has talent, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Reed, Ty Majeski and a bunch of other drivers. LFR could be the team that is a hub for some of the younger drivers before they move onto the bigger teams but also get the support to operate with a positive bank account.