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.