Kasey Kahne’s hopes to do more sprint car racing again

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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.”

Click here to read Bob Pockrass’ full story on Kahne and his sprint car exploits at SportingNews.com.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).