The crosswinds were strong at Petty Motorsports yet Kasey Kahne remained focused, finishing 10th in the Chase.
The tumult of ownership from Gillett-Evernham Motorsports to RPM to Petty-Yates may be a series of futile exercises in trying to turn negatives to positives. Ford has replaced Dodge as race vehicle of choice.
Kahne and his crew chief, Kenny Francis stayed the course. They maintained a rapport that led them to thirteen top 10 finishes including 2 wins.
With Dale Jr. unable to take the Budweiser sponsorship to Hendrick, Kahne became their poster boy. Some might question if the boyish, clean cut good looks of Kasey best serve Budweiser.
Budweiser committed 20-25 million per year with reports they would up the ante to more than they paid Earnhardt Jr.
The year 2010 has to be one of discontent for Kasey Kahne. Rumors abound saying he will leave for another team in 2011.
Stewart-Haas Racing could easily field a 3rd car. Kahne would be the logical choice to fill that position, but would Budweiser make the move with him?
If Kahne joins Stewart-Haas Racing would Kenny Francis be in tow? Perhaps Steve Addington would leave Busch, matching his temperament to that of Kahne as his new crew chief.
In another scenario Hendrick Motorsports could slide Kahne in Mark Martin's slot. Martin would retire after 2010. Is it possible Budweiser could return to Earnhardt Jr. with wrangling of sponsorship negotiations?
Kasey Kahne has much to offer any team providing he has first class equipment. He is talented with a proven race record of wins and good finishes. Having a winning record with USAC Midgets has to endear him to Tony Stewart.
The continued flipping of ownership and drivers with Petty Motorsports in it's varied forms may never yield an HMS or JGR caliber group.
At present, Kahne is by far the brightest star at Petty-Yates. His teammates Sadler, Allmendinger and Menard will continue with sub -mediocre performance.
Petty-Yates needs Kahne and Budweiser. Kahne does not need Petty-Yates. If he has a choice more than likely he would certainly want Budweiser as his sponsor.
Ray Evernham saw great potential in Kahne which was verified with him being 2004 Rookie of the Year. Now in his seventh season, 29 year old Kahne needs to make a decision.
Stewart-Haas Racing fielding Kahne makes good sense. Another red car with Budweiser on it may or may not be part of the equation.
Kahne could become a golden boy should the stars align. It is early in the year, but one thing is certain............Kasey Kahne is looking.
Photo credit David Yeazell