The other shoe has dropped at Hendrick Motorsports, and Kasey Kahne will move on in 2018, in favor of William Byron. Open seats are opening up right and left, and yet just as quickly, they’re filling up. In most cases, the fannies filling those seats have less mileage on them.
In looking over the free agent market, Kasey Kahne is an interesting case. While he didn’t set the world on fire racing for Rick Hendrick, he was far from horrible. Hey, this is the most recent winner of the Brickyard 400 we’re talking about here. 18 career wins doesn’t place him among the immortals, but Kahne is no back marker either.
If wasn’t obvious before, sponsorship money talks. Though he’s 37, Kasey Kahne still has that boyish charm sponsors love. He can still pull off hawking energy drinks, soda pop, and consumer electronics. He’s not the stereotype of the old racing redneck, and while he’s not exactly the clown prince of racing, Kahne seems to have the persona of a fun guy away from the track.
All this is to say that Kasey Kahne has some advantages other free agents don’t have. Matt Kenseth is 45, and though he has a decorated resume, he doesn’t quite have that “wow” factor. While it seems more logical that Kurt Busch will stay at Stewart-Haas for less money, the 2004 champion carries around some baggage that is a turn off to sponsors.
You know where he seems like a perfect fit? In another Stewart-Haas ride- the number 10. Now before you Danica fans beat me over the head, come on, there’s no comparing her career to Kahne’s. What’s more Danica Patrick has had PLENTY of opportunity to prove her worth, and on the track, she’s just not getting it done. Realistically, Kasey Kahne is a top 20 driver, and if he re-discovers the magic, maybe even a top 10. Other than a few fleeting moments of brilliance, Patrick is mired around 25th to 30th.
To answer question posed in the title, Kasey Kahne would seem to have at least five more years in him. If things go well at his next stop- and he will get one- he could go longer.
Don’t write this guy off, not just yet.