Kasey Kahne’s whirlwind week continued Tuesday as Leavine Family Racing said he would be driving the team’s No. 95 car in 2018.
Kahne is leaving Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season. He’s driven for Hendrick since 2012, when he joined the team after a gap year at Red Bull Racing.
“I want to thank Leavine Family Racing for this opportunity and will work as hard as possible to help them continue improving,” Kahne said in a team statement. “I am ready for this challenge and look forward to making a fresh start. [Team owner Bob Leavine] and everyone at Leavine Family Racing put a lot into their program and I’m excited to become a part of it.”
Kahne will replace Michael McDowell, who has driven for the team since 2014.
“Overall, we think Kasey is a good fit and felt we needed a change. There is absolutely nothing that Michael did, it was just a matter of us having to make some changes to help us move up the ladder and be a factor in the playoffs,” Leavine said. “I know Kasey will bring things that will help us, and I believe our environment will be conducive to his confidence level, which will in turn raise our confidence level. It just seemed like the right time and the right fit for our team.”
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Thanks to his Brickyard 400 win in July, Kahne is making his first playoff appearance since 2014. He finished 21st in the first playoff race on Sunday and Hendrick announced that Darian Grubb would serve as Kahne’s crew chief for the rest of the year.
That same day, ESPN reported the details of the contract between Farmers Insurance and Hendrick Motorsports to serve as Kahne’s sponsor. In 2014, the team paid over $16 million to sponsor Kahne’s No. 5 car. The sponsorship rights to entire Cup Series were reportedly sold to Monster Energy for a guaranteed two years at $20 million a year.
McDowell is currently 25th in the Cup Series standings with an average finish of 21.6. Kahne’s average finish is 20.0.
Kahne is being replaced by William Byron at Hendrick in 2018.
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