Has it ever happened to you? Have a ever landed a job you knew you wouldn’t keep? This observer has, and if you have, then you know it gets tempting to mail it in, especially when you know the next big thing career-wise is right around the corner.
It takes a certain amount of character to strive for excellence in a short-tem gig, but that’s what Kasey Kahne has done in his one year run at Red Bull. He gets props from this corner of NASCAR nation for earning his soon-to-be former employer a victory in his next-to-last race with the organization.
Suffice it to say, Kahne fans saw it coming. If you knew that the Enumclaw, Washington native had the best average finish in this year’s Chase behind Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, then congratulations, you get an “A” for the day. a commendable run for the four team considering all the early season misfortune that left Kahne on the outside looking in for the 2011 Chase. If you exclude Martinsville, Kahne has finished in the top ten in every race since New Hampshire, including a third place run at Texas last Sunday.
It was a marriage of convenience: Kahne left Richard Petty in a messy motorsports divorce, and it’s safe to say Red Bull was looking for a driver who could delivery better results than what they were getting with Scott Speed. Kahne delivered, going in to Homestead with eight top fives and 14 top tens to go with the victory. Both sides can walk away knowing it was fun while it lasted.
Better days lie ahead for Kasey Kahne. Next season, after years of languishing with the Evernham/ Gillett/ Petty organization and a season with Red Bull, Kahne will assume the number five ride for Hendrick Motorsports, the New York Yankees of NASCAR. It will be interesting to see how the winner of 12 Sprint Cup races will do with some of the best equipment in the business. It’s not a move that’s worked for everyone, but Kahne has more than his share of folks who truly believe in him. He’s earned it, having labored for years against a backdrop of instability with the other teams he’s driven for.
Congratulations to Kasey Kahne. He’s finishing up his Red Bull run on a high note. I can remember as a younger man being advised not to burn my bridges with former employers, because I never knew if I would need them again. In this wild and wacky economic environment, you never know. Granted, it looks as though Red Bull Racing is finished, but stranger things have happened. Whether you call in brownie points, karma, or whatever, Kahne should pick up a nice score with this as a character win.
Other articles by Jim McCoy include: