INDIANAPOLIS – On Thursday evening, Leavine Family Racing announced that Kasey Kahne would be held out of racing for Sunday’s 25th Running of the Brickyard 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IMS Radio Network/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and that Regan Smith would replace him in the No. 95 Chevrolet. Kahne, was still dealing with lingering effects of heat exhaustion suffered during last weekend’s race at the Darlington Raceway.
On Friday, Kahne held a teleconference and explained what exactly is going on with his body. Last Sunday’s Southern 500 wasn’t the first time that the Washington state native has been dealing with these issues and he wants to make sure it will though be the last. Thursday’s announcement didn’t seem as severe as Kahne let us into on Friday.
“I didn’t start having problems until last year,” Kahne said on Friday during his call. “I don’t really know why that is, and we’re trying to figure that out. I can’t control the temperature in my body, and my heart rate, at a certain point (late in the race). Once it gets to that point, there’s nothing I can do until I get out of the car. That’s why I’m not racing this weekend. I don’t want to create any more damage to myself.”
The LFR driver announced a few weeks ago that the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season would be his last in the sport. On Friday, he said that his health and what he’s going through was one of the reasons why he felt it was best to step away on a full time basis.
Kahne, said that he met with three doctors this past week and should have an update on his condition by early next week. With how much of a toll that the Southern 500 took on him and how exhausted he was after winning last year’s Brickyard 400, Kahne said that he didn’t think he wanted to go through it all over again this weekend.
“My whole reason for doing this is because I know Indy is a tough one,” continued Kahne “I just know I’ll be in that same situation here I had to not go there. Hopefully we can learn more by the next one. But I can’t go through that again.”
Kahne later admitted that he shouldn’t have been driving at the end of last weekend’s race as he said the last 100 or so laps he was just trying to get as low as he can in the seat to relax.
“Last week with 100 to go, I definitely shouldn’t have been in the race car any more,” Kahne said. “I stayed out there, put my body through it, my brain, my head. It was really difficult. It was really hard to keep my eyes open and see. I was struggling to do that. I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high. I basically just kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners. At that point, all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health, not on what I should be actually focusing on, and that’s racing.
“Once I got through a certain point with my eyes and stuff, I really just had to slow down, control it for myself. The reason I pretty much barely drove the end of the race was because my heart rate was pumping so fast, I was having a hard time breathing and keeping up with it.
“I get done with the race, laying on the pit wall. After basically not trying for an hour, the doctor still can’t get my pulse because it’s pumping so fast. I just can’t control it. I need to figure out how to control it.
“I think it’s just better off for me to stay home and figure out how to help the situation before I get back in the car.”