One topic that’s being thrown around out there is questioning if Kasey Kahne is a Hall of Famer in the NASCAR world. On Tuesday, he announced that he still hasn’t been cleared to drive and that he will just step away for good effective immediately. His final NASCAR race was in last month’s Southern 500.
But, now that his NASCAR career is done, is he a Hall of Famer?
Making The Case For
I don’t bring this topic up much since most of the most recent retirees are in the sport are no brainers. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a few others are going to be in or already in the Hall of Fame now. All of the previous classes so far are obvious. They’re the best of the best.
Soon though, we’re going to be start getting into the debated ones. Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne are now recent retirees that will be among those debated drivers. Neither won a Cup Series championship but both had plenty of good seasons to make valid cases.
In Kahne’s case, he won races in all three divisions of NASCAR. Not many drivers can say that they’ve accomplished that feat. He’s one of the rare few that one more than just one race in each. Kahne, had 18 wins in NASCAR’s premiere series, eight in the XFINITY Series and five in the Truck Series. While he never won a championship, neither did six of the other drivers that are already into the Hall.
His 18 wins rank more than four current Hall of Famers. His 27 poles are ahead of nine Hall of Famers. It’s not like he would be the lowest in either category.
Kahne, also won six of his 18 Cup races in 2006. Among those 18 career wins is three wins in the Coca Cola 600. He won the Brickyard 400 last year. He won the All-Star race too. He was also the 2004 Rookie of the Year. All are big accolades to have.
With 83 top five finishes and 176 top 10’s to go along with 4,678 laps led, do those and his 18 wins hold enough merit for a Hall of Fame vote?
Making The Case Against
While you can say that he has a solid case for, what about against? The biggest is Kahne never won a title. But, look at the drivers in the Hall of Fame that didn’t and their stats. Fred Lorenzen had 26 wins and 32 poles in nearly 400 less starts. Wendell Scott was the first African American. Curtis Turner had 17 wins and 16 poles in only 184 total starts. Mark Martin had 40 wins and 56 poles in 882 starts. While Martin never won the title or even the Daytona 500, he has 22 more wins than Kahne and more long term success. Davey Allison had 19 wins and 14 poles but was tragically killed young. He was definitely going to win a championship in the future. Fireball Roberts had 33 wins and 32 poles but won the Southern 500 twice and Daytona 500 once.
Kahne’s stats don’t measure very well against those that are in already in without championships.
Also there’s this, Kahne went six full seasons in his career without a victory and had just one over his final four years of competition. Since 2014, he had two total victories. Most will point that he drove for the best organization in NASCAR (Hendrick Motorsports) and could only muster five wins in six years. He also has just one top five finish in the championship (4th in 2012) and only three of his 15 full time seasons saw him finish in the top 10 in the final standings even.
This is one that’s going to be an interesting decision on his legendary status later on in this process.