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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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Smithfield CEO counters RPM comments

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Smithfield Foods issued a statement against Richard Petty Motorsports criticizing the team’s “subpar performance on the track.”

Kenneth M. Sullivan, President/CEO of Smithfield Foods, Inc. issued a statement in response to comments made by Richard Petty earlier in the day about Smithfield leaving RPM for Stewart-Haas Racing next season.

Petty said in his statement the two sides “recently shook hands on a deal” that carried beyond this season. “I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake. I’m sad to see this is where we are now. This decision is very unexpected, and we are extremely disappointed in this late and abrupt change of direction.”

Here’s the full statement from Sullivan, the Smithfield CEO:

“We are extremely disappointed that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield — its lead sponsor — after five years and tens of millions of dollars of unwavering financial support, despite years of subpar performance on the track.

“RPM’s claims of a ‘handshake deal’ to extend our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false. Smithfield’s numerous discussions with RPM over the past several months focused exclusively around one issue: RPM’s inability to deliver on the track and the organization’s repeated failure to present a plan to address its lack of competitiveness.

“Smithfield is a performance driven company and we demand performance from the people we do business with. For that reason — and that reason alone — Smithfield decided not to renew its contract with RPM when it expires at the end of this year. It is very unfortunate and disheartening that RPM has chosen to disseminate false statements regarding our communications to NASCAR fans who we have supported wholeheartedly with more than a $100 million investment in the sport over the last several years.”

Click here for the full Smithfield statement.

When asked if it would have a counter response to Sullivan’s statement, a RPM spokesman told NASCAR Talk “We have no comment at this time.”

 

Richard Petty Motorsports makes significant sponsorship gains for 2016

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Richard Petty Motorsports made two significant sponsorship announcements Wednesday during NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte.

The team announced that Smithfield Foods will sponsor Aric Almirola for 31 of this season’s 36 points-paying races. Smithfield, which has been with Almirola since 2013, sponsored the team in 29 races last year. Also, Albertsons Companies and Shore Lodge will serve as co-primary sponsors for Brian Scott in 16 races. Both companies will serve as an associate sponsor for the remaining races.

Almirola’s No. 43 is fully funded for the 2016 campaign. Sponsorship for the other five points-paying races will be from the U.S. Air Force, STP and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ “Fresh From Florida” campaign.

Scott’s No. 44 is seeking a primary sponsor for 12 races. Twisted Tea will serve as a primary sponsor for three races, as well as associate sponsor for other races. Other primary sponsors on Scott’s car will include GoBowling.com (number to be determined) and Goody’s (two races).

RPM said it had renewed all existing partnerships from last season, while adding new partnerships for this season.

“It makes me proud that companies continue to see a return on their investment with us and are growing right alongside of us,” RPM CEO Brian Moffitt said in a statement. “We are definitely making big strides to see that winning tradition of the Petty family return today, and I think that can happen this season.”

Also, the team announced that unless additional sponsorship is forthcoming, it likely will not field a team in the Xfinity Series this season. Dakoda Armstrong drove for the team last year.

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