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NASCAR Mailbox: Where Will Kasey Kahne End Up?

As silly season continues, nothing is surprising at this rate.

No one should be shocked Matt Kenseth, who isn’t fully sponsored, was sent packing at Joe Gibbs Racing. Who was stunned that William Byron got a Cup ride replacing Kasey Kahne, especially when Byron comes with money? No one.

So it shouldn’t come as a breaking news moment when any one of the many free agents lands a ride. Not only is it a hyperbole when people make the biggest deal of Kenseth being jobless, but it is misleading to those who follow his career and are hoping he lands somewhere that he can compete for wins.

Q: What are potential landing spots for Kasey Kahne? – Justin L., Seattle

A: Look, Kahne is still a viable option for many Cup teams. At 37, he is still a valuable driver at the Cup level.

Not only did Kahne win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the biggest — if not the largest — triumph of his NASCAR career, but he is still someone who is well-respected in the garage area. While he has struggled at Hendrick Motorsports, it doesn’t mean he will do so at another organization.

When Kahne first arrived at HMS in 2012, he won a pair of races and finished fourth in the standings. That was a mere five years ago. But since then, Kenny Francis stopped working with him and Keith Rodden took over as crew chief. When Rodden took over, the No. 5 team went from a contender to a pretender.

In two and a half years with Kahne, Rodden led him to just eight top fives and 27 top 10s prior to the 2017 Brickyard 400. That is simply unacceptable for HMS. It’s amazing that Rodden and Kahne didn’t get the boot sooner with that performance.

However, with a fresh team and a different crew chief (maybe a reunion with Francis for the third time?), Kahne can compete for a title once again.

Rumors say GMS Racing is going to Cup, putting Kahne in one of its cars with help from Hendrick. That option is one that has been floated around since June, but GMS has yet to confirm or deny any truth to it.

Should Kahne compete for GMS next year, it could be a major step down, just like Clint Bowyer working with HScott Motorsports in 2016. Even with Hendrick support, it is going to take a while for GMS to build a solid team at NASCAR’s top division. This is the top of the mountain, and to get to the top, you need to do well in the middle first.

Clearly, GMS is not ready for the Cup level. Its XFINITY Series team is struggling. Lead driver Spencer Gallagher, the team owner’s son, sits 20th in the standings behind drivers like Jeremy Clements and Joey Gase, who have a fraction of GMS’ budget. Yeah, it’s not too impressive.

Ben Kennedy, who runs the team’s second part-time car, has three top 25s in five starts. That is not promising enough to bring the organization to Cup unless HMS makes GMS a true satellite team like Joe Gibbs Racing has done with Furniture Row Racing.

For Kahne, the opportunity to race for GMS could be there. However, with openings at Richard Childress Racing, Furniture Row and possibly Roush Fenway Racing, it would make sense for him to take them up on an opportunity should he be offered one.

At this point in time, though, it seems like GMS is his best bet if he wants to stay at the Cup level.

Q: The Bristol truck race is on Wednesday night. What are the benefits of having weeknight races? – Sara M., Louisville

A: It’s really great to see NASCAR holding multiple weeknight events for the last few years, but there needs to be more of them.

Friday night races don’t fly for the demographic NASCAR wants to hit, which includes ages 18-35. Who is going to sit home to watch a NASCAR event on a Friday night? No one I know, that’s for sure.

It’s 2017, folks, and people aren’t willing to give up their entire weekends anymore for NASCAR. How nice is it to get home from work, watch qualifying, crack open a beer and watch a good ‘ol NASCAR race? Yeah, it’s pretty sweet, and that’s what the sport experiences each year when the Camping World Truck Series heads to Eldora Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway in the summer.

Not only is it a nice change of pace, but it enables people who normally wouldn’t watch a Truck Series race to do so. With a great start time of 8:30 p.m. ET and qualifying being held at 4:35, there aren’t many excuses for you to miss an action-packed race at a short track, something fans always ask for.

Bristol’s race this week not only has a stacked entry list with 34 trucks attempting to qualify, but it also has a plethora of young guns aiming to become the next big thing. Holding this race on a Wednesday evening rather than Friday night could be critical, with the potential of gaining more exposure to people who are actually home rather than being out and about.

Considering Bristol is known to put on thrillers, fans understand that it’s fun to watch and are willing to stay home for a Bristol race no matter what. However, ratings for Wednesday evening’s Truck Series race might be higher than Friday’s XFINITY Series contest, and that could be a sign NASCAR needs to add a few more weeknight races into the mix.

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Dj

I doubt that Kahne nor Kenseth will end up with a Ford team………

Sol Shine

Kahne yes, but not so much with Kenseth. No one could blame him for leaving Roush when he did. He wasted 6 or 7 of his prime driving years being faithful to Ford/Roush while Roush couldn’t deliver equipment capable of winning. I doubt Ford has hard feelings over that, it was obvious they were not happy with Roush’s performance and remain so now. SHR would not have happened if Roush was what it once was. Kenseth’s situation is more a reflection of the money problem in Nascar, that being there is not enough money around any more, thanks to the incompetent leadership at Nascar that just can’t see it’s been heading down the wrong road for 15 year or more.

russ

Think people are overlooking the political battles and jockeying for position by the various Ford teams and the powers that be at Ford.
There is a reason that Roush is no longer the number one ford team.

Bill B

I believe the reason Ford will not consider Kenseth has nothing to do with Roush but instead has to do with the fall Martinsville in 2015.

kb

Matt Kenseth God willing with sane heads prevailing should never sit in a Ford again, ever! What he did at Martinsville for his little moment of revenge, scored huge points with morons who did not understand what had happened the two weeks ago with Batty Matty pulling the same BS with Newman which cost him “points” . I believe he had a DNF or close two it.

Fast forward to the next week, he was blocking all over the place for several laps with Logano right behind him, Logano showed patience..and then decided he was not going to alter his line, he held his line KENSETH made contact with LOGANO and SPUN NOT WRECKED and for his stupid decisions wound up P14. A racing deal, but entitled Batty Matty did not see it that way!

Then because of his bone head moves he makes another insane move which cost many people ALOT! ALOT at Martinsville. I doubt the sponsors and bean counters at Ford are even giving him a passing glance! ! I seriously doubt Ford would hire him to clean their bathrooms. At least I hope so!!!!!! It has nothing to do with Jack..and everything to do with the unstable (IMO) Matt Kenseth! Hope he retires…he is a PAIN IN THE ASS!

russ

Kahne will be sitting at home, like Kenseth and Busch unless he brings money to a mid sized team and is willing to drive for a fraction of what he has in the past.
The realities of the new Nascar.

Steve

I find it hard to believe 2 Cup champions would be sitting home while drivers with virtually no Cup experience get rides….all because of sponsorship. Does anyone see anything wrong with this? Every other sport, its based on performance. In Nascar sponsors have all the control and that should never happen. Another reason Nascars is failing.

russ

unless they change the business model to where team owners are spending their money instead of sponsors it is what will happen.

DoninAjax

Too bad Kahne can’t do commercials anymore.

Kenseth turning into a bulldozer driver at Martinsville will come back to haunt him.

kb

Yuppers! As it should!

Steve

Hard to believe that he is now 37. I still remember those insurance commercials with the soccer moms. Those are much harder to do when you are not in your 20’s anymore

kb

The height of his popularity! Good premise..female stalkers!

Richie

As far as the truck race on Wed. night… there are a lot of NFL preseason games on Thu. night this week. How bad would it look for NASCAR to get beat in the ratings against football games that don’t even count? Convince me that’s not the #1 reason for scheduling nothing at Bristol on Thu. night this week…

Steve

Its already happened Richie. This time of year, Saturday night Cup races get pushed out for NFL preseason games in some areas. Apparently preseason NFL gets more viewers than a Cup race at Bristol/Darlington/Richmond. Pretty sad.

In fairness, my guess is Thursday is reserved for moving Modified/Truck teams out and Cup/Xfinity teams in due to the small size of the infield. Only so much room for cars, transporters, and driver RV’s.

mike

toyota is buying nascar , the toyota truck series you can buy a ride in joe gibbs infinity car an win so much for crew chief bonding ? if you dont think toyota has more hp/torqe your the f…… moron !! in 5 yr toyota nascar racing series what new manufactures would to want to spend that kind of money for what? nascar will never never be back ! over the last 40yr i have taken 30 to 40 people , now i could not get not one of them to go if i drive a had free tickets … its over

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