Kasey Kahne has tentatively penciled in his next sprint car race for 2017 or 2018.
Well, kind of.
Kahne, who made his early mark in racing in sprint cars in and around his native Washington state, temporarily stopped racing them in 2012 when his boss, Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick, stopped approving Kahne’s extracurricular activities.
Hendrick’s move was understandable. He was merely protecting his investment in Kahne, who had been in a bad wreck in 2011 at Williams Grove (Pa.) Raceway, flipping end over end and off the racing surface (see video below).
Fortunately, Kahne wasn’t severely injured. But after allowing Kahne to continue for a few more sprint car races, Hendrick pulled the plug in 2012, according to a story by Bob Pockrass at SportingNews.com.
After a more than two-year layoff, Kahne was able to convince Hendrick to let him get back behind the wheel of a sprint car at the recent five-day inaugural “Winter Heat” event at Arizona’s Cocopah Speedway over the past two weekends.
“It took what, two-and-a-half years, three years?” Kahne told Pockrass about finally getting Hendrick’s nod of approval to compete in the Cocopah event. “It took a while. He finally said, ‘Yes.’ I think he just realized it’s one of my passions.
“It’s something I’ve done my entire life since I started racing. It’s hard not to do something that you enjoy doing, especially during the offseason. I was really happy and fortunate he let me do it.”
Kahne eventually finished 10th overall in the event. Not bad for a guy who’d been out of a sprint car for more than two years.
He must especially eat his heart out, particularly since Kahne owns his own sprint car race team (but doesn’t drive for it).
Now, as for Kahne’s next time behind the wheel of a sprint car?
“I definitely won’t be waiting two-and-a-half years again,” said Kahne, who will be 35 in April. “I’m not sure when that next time will be. I think it’s definitely better to do it sooner than later so you can kind of keep with it and understand things.
“Me and Mr. H just talked about these five races and doing them. We did them and now I’m just focused on the Cup car. I would hope to get back in one (a sprint car) at some point within three years.”
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