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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Tony Stewart gets engaged

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Tony Stewart tweeted on Thanksgiving that he had proposed to girlfriend Pennelope Jimenez and she said yes.

No date was announced.

Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, posted a picture of Jimenez wearing the diamond ring. Stewart, 46, retired from Cup driving after the 2016 season. He finished as a three-time series champion.

Christopher Bell nips Kyle Larson for Turkey Night Grand Prix win

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Newly crowned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Christopher Bell added to his trophy case Thursday night by holding off Kyle Larson to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC midget race in Ventura, California.

The former USAC regulars battled throughout the 98-lap feature.

“Oh my god, it’s so much fun,” Bell told USACracing.com. “I just told Kyle that if he would’ve beat me, I would’ve been, maybe not just as happy, but still happy because it was just that much fun.  That race was one of the most fun races I’ve run in a long time.”

This marked the second time Bell won this event. His previous victory in the event came in 2014.

Bell and Larson, who started on the pole, exchanged the lead multiple times in the race. Larson made one last bid to pass on the final lap but couldn’t get by.

“I definitely had to work harder for this one,” Bell told USACracing.com. “This one was even more fun and more special.”

For more on the race and results of the event, check out USACracing.com’s coverage.

Cup drivers with most speeding penalties in 2017

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In his final Cup season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a series-high eight speeding penalties on pit road.

Earnhardt was penalized for speeding on pit road at Atlanta, the spring Martinsville race, the spring Richmond race, the spring Kansas race, the spring Dover race, Sonoma, the second Pocono race and the second Talladega race.

Trevor Bayne, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth were next with seven speeding penalties each. New Cup champ Martin Truex Jr. had four speeding penalties.

Last year, Denny Hamlin had the most speeding penalties with 10.

Here’s a look at drivers with the most speeding penalties in Cup this year.

8 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7 — Trevor Bayne

7 — Kasey Kahne

7 — Matt Kenseth

6 — Matt DiBenedetto

6 — Michael McDowell

6 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

5 — Aric Almirola

5 — Clint Bowyer

5 — Kyle Busch

5 — Derrike Cope

5 — Denny Hamlin

5 — Corey LaJoie

5 — Joey Logano

5 — Ryan Newman

5 — Reed Sorenson

4 — Austin Dillon

4 — Timmy Hill

4 — Brad Keselowski

4 — Martin Truex Jr.

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Pacing the field: Martin Truex, Kyle Busch lead the way

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Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch each led more than 2,000 laps this season, the first time that has happened since 1989 when Dale Earnhardt (2,735 laps led) and Rusty Wallace (2,020) topped that threshold.

Truex led a career-high 2,253 laps this season. Busch was next with a career-high 2,023 laps led. Combined, the two drivers led 40.4 percent of the 10,581 laps run this season.

Also, Truex led the most miles (3,508) since 1990 when Earnhardt led 3,205 miles.

Here’s a look at who led the most laps this season and how Truex’s season-high total compares to previous years.

Lap Led This Season

2,253 — Martin Truex Jr.

2,023 — Kyle Busch

1,362 — Kyle Larson

   850 — Kevin Harvick

   778 — Brad Keselowski

   710 — Denny Hamlin

   560 — Chase Elliott

   421 — Matt Kenseth

   376 — Joey Logano

   310 — Erik Jones

   301 — Ryan  Blaney

   217 — Jimmie Johnson

Most Laps Led in Last 10 Seasons

2017 — Martin Truex Jr. (2,253)

2016 — Martin Truex Jr. (1,809)

2015 — Kevin Harvick (2,294)

2014 — Kevin Harvick (2,137)

2013 — Jimmie Johnson (1,985)

2012 — Jimmie Johnson (1,744)

2011 — Kyle Busch (1,455)

2010 — Jimmie Johnson (1,315)

2009 — Jimmie Johnson (2,238)

2008 — Jimmie Johnson (1,959)

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