CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kasey Kahne is not a candidate to replace Danica Patrick next season and, as he prepares to start NASCAR’s playoffs, he’s considering a future outside the series.
Kahne is not returning to Hendrick Motorsports next season. He was informed he was being let go with one year remaining on his contract not long after he won at Indianapolis in July.
As he heads into Sunday’s opening race of the 10-race playoffs, he’s also trying to put together a plan for 2018. Kahne is apparently close to signing a deal with Leavine Family Racing to drive the No. 95 next season.
But, should it fall through, he’s given thought to other routes.
“It was just like three or four days ago I had this great plan to like do sprint cars and see if I could do an IndyCar race or two and do a couple of NASCAR races, like the (Daytona) 500 and Brickyard, things like that,” Kahne said Wednesday. “I thought that would be quite a dream and pretty awesome to do.
“That has been on my mind. But I also want to, if I can come up with a strong deal for next year, then I would like to do that because I enjoy racing in NASCAR and feel like I don’t want to get too far away from it because I think I still have some strong years left in me racing in the Cup Series.”
Danica Patrick said Tuesday that Stewart-Haas Racing is not bringing her back to the No. 10 Ford next season, and that at first seemed to open the possibility that either Kahne or Matt Kenseth could land that ride.
But both said during NASCAR’s playoffs preview Wednesday they aren’t in the running.
“No, nope. It’s not me. I can tell you that, it’s not me,” Kenseth said.
Added Kahne: “I don’t really think the No. 10 is an option. I’ve talked to them and things, but they’ve obviously been working in other areas.”
Kahne said he’s been talking to as many team owners as possible, and admitted that the speculation about his future is “actually kind of miserable at times.” He felt that all the uncertainty has been a distraction to the No. 5 team, but now that he knows he’s not returning and the team is in the playoffs, they can focus on their final 10 races.
From there, he’s not sure what will happen. Kahne has had opportunities to race in the Indianapolis 500 before, but has never been able to make it work. Now, that could be an option.
“I drove an Indy car a couple of times, I really enjoyed it and I’ve talked about doing the Indy 500 a few times,” he said. “It’s always been something on my mind. It just hasn’t worked with the NASCAR deal and the teams and owners that I’ve driven for and it just hasn’t ever been able to put it all together.
“If I wasn’t racing full-time Cup that would be like top priority — how can I figure out how to be part of a couple of races there?”
Meanwhile, Patrick’s name also could emerge as a possible Indy 500 candidate.
She won an IndyCar race in 2008 and is the highest finishing female driver in Indianapolis 500 history with a third-place run in 2009. She’s also the only woman to lead laps in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500.
Patrick has been firm in not returning to Indianapolis since she moved to NASCAR, but that could change if she doesn’t have a driving job next season.
“I know it’s one race she’s always been very passionate about and always thinks every time she shows up she has a good opportunity to win,” said longtime boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“So I know that her racing side and competitiveness side would say, ‘Hey, I want to go back and run that,’ but I don’t really know exactly if she wants to or not.”