Kasey Kahne hopes to have plans for 2018 set soon

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Kasey Kahne hopes to know soon where he’s racing next season, but he says he’s pondered a schedule that could include sprint cars, IndyCar and NASCAR.

Kahne, though, is not counting on the No. 10 Cup ride at Stewart-Haas Racing.

I don’t really think the 10 is an option,’’ Kahne said Wednesday at NASCAR’s playoff media day at the Hall of Fame. “It hasn’t seemed to be throughout. I’ve talked to them and things, but they’ve obviously been working in other areas. 

“I don’t know exactly what I’m doing yet, but I hope to figure it out pretty soon.’’

Asked about the No. 95 car at Leavine Family Racing, which is piloted by Michael McDowell, Kahne said: “I think the 95 is still an option.’’

NBC Sports reached out to a spokesperson for Leavine Family Racing for comment but had not heard back from the team.

Kahne said he doesn’t believe he has to bring sponsorship for a Cup ride for next season.

The 37-year-old admits he’s intrigued about the idea of racing in different series. He owns a World of Outlaws sprint car team. He has always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500 but that never worked out with the NASCAR teams he was with at the time.

Kahne’s focus remains on NASCAR, saying “I don’t want to get too far away from it because I think I still have some strong years left in me racing in the Cup Series.

“I’ve looked at everything and I’ve talked to everybody. There was a good bit of interest in different areas, but it’s all up to the teams and manufacturers and how they want to align and what all they can do and want to do.’’

His tweet Tuesday night supporting Smithfield Foods, which is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing from Richard Petty Motorsports next season, made it appear as if he was angling for a ride at SHR. Not so, said Kahne.

“People kind of think whatever they want, but I thought that I was supporting Smithfield for staying in the sport,’’ Kahne said. “And I thought that was cool that they are still in NASCAR. Me and (son) Tanner do eat bacon a couple of days a week and it’s Smithfield, and I think that is how it should be. 

“Just with all of our sponsors in the sport … if I see them and I’m at the store to get something I’m going to go to that sponsor. That was really it. I thought people might take it that way (trying for a ride), but I knew that the No. 10 was not my car so it wasn’t about that. It was about thanking Smithfield for being a part of NASCAR.”

While he tries to sort through his future, Kahne also will prepare for the playoffs. He qualified with his Brickyard 400 win in July — his only top-10 finish in the last 16 races.

He and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates — Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — have struggled this summer. Johnson, Kahne and Elliott, who are all in the playoffs, have combined for four top-10 finishes since the Brickyard 400.

Kahne has no concerns about being viewed in a lame-duck situation heading into the playoffs and his final 10 races with Hendrick Motorsports.

“We talked last week, myself and every guy on my team and they all want to do the best they possibly can in my final 10 races, and I want to do the best I can for them during my final 10 with them,’’ Kahne said. “Yeah, I feel like we have as good of an opportunity to run well in these final 10 that we’ve had all season long.

“Excited to go to Chicago and get it started.’’

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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