Kasey Kahne's Roller Coaster Week Ends With a Top-15 Finish at Martinsville

Dustin ParksAnalyst IOctober 25, 2010

Kahne's first race with Red Bull Racing resulted in a 14th-place finish.
Kahne's first race with Red Bull Racing resulted in a 14th-place finish.John Harrelson/Getty Images

To say the week for Kasey Kahne has been chaos would be an understatement. At Charlotte, he wrecks out and refuses to get back in the car, citing illness as his reason.

A day later, he runs his 5K charity event, and opens up that a Richard Petty Motorsports employee told him to start "doing his part." Wednesday, the drama continued as RPM and Kahne agreed to part company five races early, putting Aric Almirola in the No. 9 car for Martinsville.

Kahne then made his move to Red Bull Racing on Thursday, jumping in the No. 83 car that Almirola was originally to drive in place of Brian Vickers, who has been out of action since May.

With all the focus on Kahne and the drama outside the track, how would that translate to performance on the track?

Kahne would qualify 33rd in the Red Bull Toyota, and seeing that it was his first time in the car, and equipment for that matter, struggles were to be expected. However, as the weekend progressed, the team worked on the car to get it more to his liking, and ended up running relatively well.

Sure, they fell behind a bit early, falling a lap down. However, with the help of all the caution flags and a bit of strong driving, Kahne brought home a 14th-place finish, and on the lead lap.

It's obviously not a finish that under normal circumstances a driver would be happy about, but for Kahne the run had to be a relief.

Let's face it, Kahne's season has not been a good one. His only victory came in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, a race that wasn't for points. All it did was set the field for the Daytona 500, giving Kahne a fourth-place starting spot.

Since then, wrecks, parts failures and many things that were out of his control have cost him strong finishes.

ESPN's Brad Daugherty said it best on NASCAR Countdown, remarking that Kahne was giving "110 percent every week." He is a strong talent, but has experienced a lot of unfortunate circumstances that he had no control over.

It is only one race after the RPM-Kahne split, but this is more a mental victory for Kahne.

After a season of struggles and frustration, a 14th-place finish in his first race out with the Red Bull team had to feel good. And it leaves everyone wondering how well he will do come 2011.

Remember, Kahne's crew chief at RPM, Kenny Francis, opted to stay with the No. 9 team through the end of the season. However, he will move over to Red Bull Racing in 2011 to be with Kahne. Whether he will move early is yet to be seen, but Kahne has worked well with Francis and wants that to continue.

We shouldn't jump to conclusions just from one race, but it appears as though Kahne is extremely happy now that he's away from the RPM team.

Kahne is ready to move on, and he seems to be ready for the next chapter in his racing career. The Red Bull commercials say "Red Bull gives you wings." In this case, Red Bull is giving Kahne happiness.