Kasey Kahne: ‘I don’t want to be done yet’ with NASCAR career

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Kasey Kahne is following every possible lead that could result in having a Cup ride in 2018.

“I think I’ve lived a great part of the sport,” Kahne said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. “I don’t want to be done yet.”

Kahne had his first press conference since it was announced this week he would not return to Hendrick Motorsports next year after six seasons with the team. Kahne began working toward finding a new ride even before the announcement was made.

“I started basically Sunday night, Monday talked to some different owners, personnel at different teams and just trying to show that I really want to still be in the Cup Series,” Kahne said. “Everybody is nice and talked about their programs and was really cool to have those conversations. Also, Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has been really supportive and making sure that … you know he wants me in a car as well.

“It didn’t work out in the No. 5, but he wants me in another car, and he wants me to be out there racing next year. Between all that, I just really think I will be able to come up with something that will be very competitive and be able to be in the Cup Series for a while to come.”

Following the news that William Byron would replace Kahne next season, Hendrick said he was helping to find the 37-year-old driver a ride for next season. 

“I know there are several situations that we’re talking to, kind of an alliance, which would be good for everyone,” Hendrick said earlier this week. “We’re working on it. We’ve been working on it and we’ll just see how it develops.”

Kahne said having Hendrick in his corner going forward “means a lot” to him even though he won’t be under the Hendrick roof once the season ends.

“To have him behind you is a really good thing,” Kahne said. “I respect that. I respect him a ton. Yeah, I hope we can build something out of that, but I also have been working in my own direction as well on certain things to make sure I just check out everything that is out there for sure. I don’t want to miss anything.”

Kahne said he only wants to race in the Cup Series, which he has been full-time since 2004. Kahne has earned 18 wins in 490 starts. The most recent victory, last month’s Brickyard 400, broke a 102-race winless streak.

But Kahne knows “not a ton of opportunities” are waiting for him.

“There are some really good drivers that don’t have a deal done at this time that will probably end up in cars I would think,” Kahne said. “I just feel like the opportunities are pretty slim, but I’ve always tried to be really respectful and when I’ve had the opportunity to go fast and win, we have been able to win some races. I would always like to win more, but we have some wins and have done a good job with the people in the garage and our partners over the years.

“So, I really think that I can come up with something good and come up with something that will be fun to be a part of and also try to work hard to make that team better than it’s ever been and myself better than I’ve been. I still have that mindset, and I really hope that something works out to where I can be in a strong car next year and enjoy racing in this series.”

The final 14 starts for Kahne at Hendrick begin with Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. Kahne will start 23rd.

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Truck practice report at Atlanta

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Justin Haley was the fastest in the first of two practices Friday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He had a top lap of 178.029 mph.

Daytona winner Johnny Sauter was second with a lap of 177.040 mph. He was followed by Myatt Snider (177.040 mph), Stewart Friesen (176.995) and Noah Gragson (176.589).

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Truck practice will be from 4:05 – 4:50 p.m. ET.

Click here for Truck 1 practice

Police investigating vandalism, theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway

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The Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of vandalism and theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the track, which last hosted a NASCAR Cup race in 1996, suffered damage of about $10,000 when several trespassers were on the grounds last weekend. No arrests have been made.

The report states that several windows were broken and other damage was done to the structures. Also, large amounts of electrical wire and circuit breakers were reported missing.

The investigation continues.

North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR Cup races from 1949-96. Winners included Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, who won the final race there.

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Others’ predictions motivating Austin Dillon after Daytona 500 win: ‘I guess they don’t believe it yet’

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Fresh off the greatest victory of his NASCAR career, Austin Dillon already has motivation to win the next.

The Richard Childress Racing driver heard others predict this week that the Daytona 500 would be his only victory this season.

“I think on Race Hub, Brad (Keselowski) and Chad (Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson) saying that we weren’t going to win again,” Dillon said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “So, that was good to hear. That was something to get me fired up a little bit more and our team, get those competitive juices flowing again. So, we will just keep rocking it however we can. We still have a lot to work on.”

Prior to Daytona, Dillon’s lone win in four seasons as a full-time Cup driver came in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600. His No. 3 Chevrolet qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, but his top 10s (13 to four) and average finish (15.9 to 18.6) slipped demonstrably from 2016 to ’17.

“So yesterday in my group text with my buddies they watched Chad Knaus and Brad Keselowski, and it was like, ‘All right, it’s time to keep knocking them down, I guess they don’t believe it yet,’” Dillon said. “We’ve got to step up though at RCR. We’ve still got a lot to prove. It’s a speedway race, even though it’s the biggest race in our deal, it’s a speedway race.  We’ve got a lot more to prove.

“(Competition executive) Andy Petree and all the guys are RCR are working hard. I think coming down to a two-car team move is big for us. We’ve got to take advantage of that. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired right now, but we are going to kick butt this weekend and get back regrouped and get in the groove and try and gain as many bonus points as we can.”

But qualifying for the playoffs by winning the season opener should be a morale booster that avoids any letdown.

“The one thing they don’t have right now that we have is a win,” Dillon said. “So, we are on top right now, and no matter what they can’t take that away, and we are going to keep working.  I don’t expect us to lay down at all. I feel like now more than ever we need to go head on and go after it.”

Xfinity practice report from Atlanta

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Christopher Bell posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity practice sessions Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bell posted a lap of 178.447 mph. He was followed by Joey Logano (177.323 mph), Cole Custer (175.933), Ryan Reed (175.688) and Kevin Harvick (175.487). Daytona winner Tyler Reddick (175.388) was sixth on the speed chart.

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Xfinity practice will be from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET

Click here for practice 1 report