It was reported yesterday Kasey Kahne had signed to drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. Today, via a teleconference at 3 p.m. EST, both Kahne and Rick Hendrick addressed some of the fans' questions.
Kahne said he spoke to multiple teams about signing on, though he said Hendrick Motorsports is the place to be:
“It's been on my mind for a long time,” Kahne said. “As a race car driver, Hendrick Motorsports is one of the places you dream of driving for.”
The deal doesn’t start till 2012, however Hendrick has said that it’s his priority to get Kahne a ride as he is under contract.
“Kahne has a contract for 2011,” Hendrick said. “My responsibility to get him in a position to have a ride.”
With that said, nothing has been determined yet.
"We'll figure it out later,” Hendrick told the media. “I'm just telling you. We haven't talked to anyone in detail."
Hendrick says it was priority to get this deal done, as there are not many opportunities to get somebody like Kahne.
“Bottom line, it's the people and their willingness to work hard and work together that has made our deal what it is,” Hendrick said.
He also added that Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all in agreement on this deal. Hendrick spoke of this being a deal that will set up the future of Hendrick Motorsports, as he looks to keep Kahne on board for five, six, maybe even 10 more years down the road.
Though is Budweiser making the jump with Kahne? That has yet to be determined.
“It's been a great partnership with those guys...but I don't know what the future is for myself and Budweiser,” Kahne said.
And who will be the crew chief? Kahne said he’d like to work with Kenny Francis still, but is unsure.
“Hopefully we work together in the future, but personally, I don't know,” Kahne said.
So where could Kahne spend the 2010 season?
JR Motorsports doesn’t look to be an option as Hendrick stated, “Junior's made it pretty clear that he wants to see that a Nationwide organization.” Though he does add that things could change depending on what Danica Patrick decides in the future.
Could he run for Stewart-Haas in 2011? That is an open possibility due to their technical alliance and it’d fit within NASCAR’s rules.
“I have no ownership whatsoever in that team.” Hendrick said, in reference to the four drivers per owner rule.
A lot of people have been saying that Hendrick is taking over NASCAR. He says that his choice of aligning drivers and teams is like other teams out there who share resources.
"There are organizations out there with eight-to-10 guys who share information,” Hendrick said. “That's what we're supposed to do."
Another scenario, though, is could he move to the No. 5 early? That looks to be a no, due to the commitment that Hendrick has to Mark Martin.
“Mark has said he wants to drive the 5 car in 2011 and that's the way we're headed right now.” Hendrick said.
When the deal came together, a lot of people questioned the deal due to Martin currently running in that ride and how it would affect it. Hendrick addressed that issue, stating that Martin told him he didn’t want to run the full schedule past 2011.
“Mark made the decision that 2011 would be his last year,” Hendrick said. “He came to me a year ago suggesting Kahne for the five.”
Though whatever is decided, two things are known for sure: he'll be in a Chevrolet and it'll be decided within 90 days.
Hendrick wasn’t ready to comment on the issue, saying that he’s only addressing the issue now due to Marty Smith breaking the story yesterday.
“Marty's such a bloodhound,” Hendrick commented. “The ink is not yet dry and he is out here reporting it.”
Knowing the fact that Mark Martin already stated he wasn’t going back to full season driving next year, it gives me comfort that all aspects have been addressed.
It’s also comforting to know that Rick Hendrick is in Kasey Kahne’s corner in helping him find a ride for 2010. Most likely, it’ll be at Stewart-Haas, though there’ll be some interesting dynamics in what possibly NASCAR may have to say due to the ownership rule.
A lot of people have also said that Hendrick has created an interesting working relationship with Stewart-Haas in how the teams share resources. However, this is the same setup that Jack Roush developed first with sharing resources with Yates Racing, which is now apart of Richard Petty Motorsports.
All teams are looking for an advantage and this is one way to get it in a world where you can’t expand your own personal ownership past four cars.
Rick Hendrick has also shown that he is a smart businessman, as he has now signed arguably the top four most marketable and money-grabbing drivers in the business. Hendrick Motorsports was said to be the richest team, according to Forbes Magazine.
Well, look for the amount to increase with this deal. He also shows his business-savvy skills by being able to line himself up with four drivers who can drive for his team for multiple years now and have potential to keep the winning ways going.
So what happens to Richard Petty Motorsports now? Well, their value goes down and how they’re seen throughout NASCAR Nation, probably making it harder on them to gain sponsorship.
They also need to worry about the fact they’ve got three other contracts up and need to decide the right things to do. If you want money, keeping Paul Menard would be the right way to go, as he comes with backing from the family business and has been running this year better than past years.
Also, I’d keep A.J. Allmendinger, as he’s one of the sport's rising stars as he has shown signs of improvement from where he started and looks to continue to improve.
What happens with Budweiser? Tough to say as it depends where they want to dish out their pennies. I’d say sticking with Kahne would be a good idea, as Kahne is a highly marketable driver who can appeal to a wide variety of fans.
However, Bud is under new ownership and the new owners have been declining other sports’ contracts that have come up. Could they be doing it to save their money for Kahne? Or will they be leaving Kahne also?
Either way, Kahne will have a sponsor for 2011 and beyond, as Kahne has the ability to get sponsorship with who he is and now the team he is with.
Thanks to TheDalyPlanet, Jeff Gluck, Tom Bowles and Jenna Fryer for quotes via twitter.
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