CHARLOTTE – Kasey Kahne can be persuasive, but he might have met his match with his boss, Rick Hendrick.
After racing sprint cars in Australia and a midget at the Chili Bowl Nationals in the offseason, Kahne said Friday that he’s looking to run between six to 10 winged sprint car races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
It would be the first time since 2012 that Kahne has raced winged sprint cars during the NASCAR season. He admits it has been a challenge to convince Hendrick to let him do so.
“It’s been … two-and-a-half years of meetings and conversations and finally got it,’’ Kahne told NASCAR Talk
Well, not so fast.
Asked why he’s changed his stance and will allow Kahne to run winged sprint cars during the NASCAR season, Hendrick was surprised he had.
“I think he and I need to talk about that a little bit,’’ Hendrick told NASCAR Talk. “I don’t think we got any further than Australia. I don’t think we crossed into this year yet.’’
Kahne said that he feels racing winged sprint cars helps his NASCAR effort.
“If anything the more I race my sprint car, the better I raced in Cup,’’ Kahne said. “You can look at 2012. That was the last year I raced my sprint car a lot. As far as I see it, I was as good as anyone at (Hendrick Motorsports). I could have ran second in points. I could have easily had five to seven wins that year. I raced my sprint car 14 times that year.’’
Kahne finished a career-best fourth in points that season – his first at Hendrick. He won the Coca-Cola 600 and at New Hampshire that season. Kahne finished 15 points behind Jimmie Johnson, who was the top Hendrick driver in the points and won five races.
The notion of drivers racing in other series, particularly sprint cars, was scrutinized after Tony Stewart suffered a season-ending injury in a sprint car crash in Iowa in Aug. 2013. Kahne’s racing was questioned by some in July 2011 when video emerged of his sprint car flipping over the fence at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Kahne was uninjured in that event.
Kahne said he knows any winged sprint car racing he does would be limited.
“I have too many sponsors, Mr. (Hendrick) and so many people relying on me to run well and perform,’’ Kahne said of his NASCAR effort. “I don’t want to effect that in any way. I don’t want any of that to interfere. To not interfere, there’s just not a bunch of races you can do. I think six to 10 would be a pretty decent number.’’
As to where he’ll race, Kahne said he’s unsure.
“The only weekend I’ve thought about is Easter weekend and there’s not a lot of races to choose from,’’ he said. “I think Pennsylvania might have a couple good shows that weekend.’’
Maybe Kahne will be there. Maybe he won’t.