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Much ado about Kasey Kahne

 Once you get past Joey and Tom Logano battling it out with Kevin and Delana Harvick, Jeff Gordon and the funky fuel dustup, and Denny Hamlin taking NASCAR to task for using debris on the track caution flags to keep the field bunched up, the news this past week has been mostly about Kasey Kahne.
The defending champion at Infineon Raceway who has struggled the first half of the season, appeared headed for a rebound with a runner up finish at Michigan and a trip to a track that took him six tries to conquer.
“That was definitely a surprise last year” Kahne said from Infineon Raceway last weekend. “It’ll be a little different with the Ford engine, how it runs, things like that. But I look forward to it. For an oval guy like myself, I think the whole course is where I really need to keep my eyes open. One little mistake there and you lose it all.”

A short time later Kahne went out to qualify and put the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford on the pole. With a victory in last year’s Toyota/Savemart 350 and sitting on the pole last Sunday, you might think Kahne had the tough California road course figured out.
“No, I’m not a wizard or anything at this track,” he said after his pole winning lap at 93.893 mph.
“We’ve had a pole here before and now we have another one,” Kahne said after his qualifying turn. “This whole Budweiser team did a really nice job today. We showed up with a great car and made a few adjustments. We haven’t had a pole in a long time. We’re doing some good things and I’m excited.”
The other big news is Kasey’s plans for 2011. While Kahne knows he is headed to Hendick Motorsports in 2012, his plans for next year remain uncertain.
“I talked to Mr. Hendrick and we just chatted,” he said. “I didn’t even ask anything about next year and he didn’t bring it up either. So I would say there is no news.”
The initial speculation was that Rick Hendrick would cut a deal to put Kasey in a third car for Stewart Haas Racing next season, but that rumor appeared to be going nowhere. The speculation the past few weeks is that Hendrick would set up a deal with James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Racing to put Kasey in the No. 09 Phoenix racing car.
Robbie Loomis, team manager at Richard Petty Motorsports added another twist this past week with the possibility of RPM keeping Kahne for another year. Sounds crazy at first blush, but if you think about it, it has a lot of merit. Consider: Loomis has deep ties to both Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Petty Motorsports. Loomis left Petty Enterprises after many years to become Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. It was Robbie Loomis on the pit box when Jeff Gordon won his fourth championship in 2001.
Kasey Kahne has pretty much been the franchise for the much merged and reorganized race team that is presently called Richard Petty Motorsports. He signed originally with Ray Everham in 2005, when Ray Everham created his own organization and became the primary team for Dodge. Financial pressures forced Everham to partner with George Gillett and the team became Gillett Everham Motorsports. Last year brought a further merger when they absorbed the struggling Petty Enterprises racing organization. For 2010 the team switched to Fords in an alliance with Yates Racing. All these various reorganizations have been brought about by just one thing: Money. The tough economy has created some strange bedfellows indeed.
Through it all Kasey has soldiered on and driven to 11 wins on the Cup circuit. Could there be a Ford in Kasey’s future for another year? Stranger things have happened.
Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first championship winning owner passed away last Sunday morning in his Atlanta home. He was 96. Parks was the last living member of the groundbreaking 1947 meeting to form NASCAR at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. He helped shape the future of the sport and its eventual incorporation in 1948.
Together with legendary mechanic and fellow Atlanta native Red Vogt, Parks produced equipment capable of dominating the sport in the sport’s early years. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France remembered Raymond Parks as “a giant in the history of NASCAR who will always be remembered for his dedication to the sport.”
You may reach Pete Barber at
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