Kasey Kahne is losing another major sponsor at the end of the season.
Great Clips has exercised an option to end its deal with Kahne and Hendrick Motorsports once the season concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway this November. The haircut company currently backs Kahne for 10 races a season and has been a part of his No. 5 team since 2013.
The move, first reported by ESPN, was defined as a change in marketing strategy by Great Clips President Steve Hockett. It ends an on-and-off partnership between the company and Kahne that’s lasted since 2003, when he drove in the XFINITY Series with Brad Akins’ No. 38.
The news comes at a time when Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports team remains mired in a long-term slump. The veteran has not won at the Cup level since Atlanta in the fall of 2014, a span of 95 races. He sits 20th in the current point standings, leading just seven laps since the 2016 Daytona 500. Missing the NASCAR playoffs the last two seasons, he’s currently trailing sophomore Ryan Blaney by 64 points for this year’s final cutoff spot.
Great Clips joins Farmers Insurance in not returning to the No. 5 team in 2018. That creates a total of 22 races for Kahne that now need funding for next season. No other company in 2017 is backing the team as a primary for more than three events.
Kahne is signed with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2018 season, but it’s possible lack of funding could force a change. The team already has an opening for next year with Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring.
Should HMS choose to make a change, William Byron and Alex Bowman are among the young drivers HMS has under its umbrella. Bowman, last year’s sub for Earnhardt, is a prime contender to take over the No. 88 ride. Byron, meanwhile, has funding from Jeff Gordon’s former sponsor, Axalta. That’s paired with Liberty University as he runs for a championship in XFINITY.
The team had no comment Wednesday on the sponsorship news.
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