Kasey Kahne's Trek To Mystery Ride at Hendrick Motorsports

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IJune 1, 2010

CONCORD, NC - MAY 21:  Kasey Kahne (R), driver of the #9 Budweiser Ford, talks with crew chief Kenny Francis in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Whitmore/Getty Images

The mid-April announcement that Kasey Kahne was under contract to Hendrick Motorsports for 2011 and beyond, dashed any plans Richard Petty Motorsports had for their star driver.

Kahne and his crew chief Kenny Francis have struggled this year at RPM with erratic performance.

The driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford has not had a win this season, and only two top-10 finishes in the last 10 races.

Presently, Kahne rests at 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings. His teammates, Paul Menard and AJ Allmendinger, are 22nd and 23rd in points respectively, followed by Elliott Sadler in 28th position.

Kahne and Francis have proven to be a strong driver/crew chief combo, but it is not known if Francis will get an invitation to the Hendrick organization.

Kahne was optimistic going into Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, having secured wins on 1.5 mile tracks. He started in fourth position and finished in 12th place. It was actually one of his better finishes this year.

The driver of the No. 9 Ford for RPM would like nothing better than to leave the organization by at least making the Chase. It appears that is no longer an option.

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Indeed, it must be the summer of Kahne's discontent, as he waits for his stint to end with Richard Petty Motorsports.

Though he has great comfort from the contract signed with Hendrick Motorsports, he must wonder about the unknowns existing with the deal.

He claims he doesn't know what car he will drive, who will sponsor him, or where he will be driving. About all he does know, is that he will be behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

It has been my theory since Kahne signed with Hendrick that he would be driving the No. 5 at HMS next year. Many question that opinion.

Mark Martin still insists he is driving the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports next year.

So the odyssey of Rick Hendrick signing a top-tier driver without having a place for him to drive still unfolds.

An announcement should be made in July due to sponsorship and merchandising plans that need to be in place by the end of the year.

Kahne finds himself slipping and sliding around with RPM due to the lack of consistency, thus blowing his chance for making the Chase, and perhaps even winning a race.

Disappointment clearly exists with his season so far, yet excitement relating to the potential with HMS clearly overrides it.

Kahne has a secure future lined up, so it really does not matter to him that he does not know his car number, crew chief, sponsor, or team location for 2011.

The talented and popular driver finds himself on a strange trek to his future. He will continue to put forth maximum effort at RPM, as he awaits the end of the 2010 season despite the unknowns of 2011.

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