SPEEDWAY, Ind. – As last weekend’s Southern 500 progressed on a hot evening, Kasey Kahne quit taking fluids in his car.
He couldn’t drink any more because he was nauseous. With about 100 laps left in the 367-lap race, Kahne said “it was really hard to keep my eyes open and see. I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high.
“At that point, all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health and not what I should actually be focusing on and that’s racing.”
After finishing 24th, Kahne vomited on the way to the infield care center. He threw up after he arrived there. Kahne received IVs in both arms.
Even an hour after the Southern 500, Kahne said “the doctor still can’t get my pulse because it’s pumping so fast. I just can’t control it. I need to figure out how to control it.”
Darlington was the worst it has been for Kahne but he said Friday that the issue has gotten progressively worse the past two years and he doesn’t know why. He said Kentucky this year was “rough,” Indy last year “was rough”, Bristol this year was “pretty rough” on him. He said there were other races as well.
“I just can’t control the temperature in my body and my heart rate. Once it gets to that point, there’s nothing I can do until I get out of the car. We’re still trying to figure that out. That’s why I’m not racing this weekend, I don’t want to create any more damage to myself or my body.”
Regan Smith will drive in place of Kahne this weekend at Indianapolis for Leavine Family Racing.
While Kahne said doctors are hoping to have some answers early this, he has looked ahead to next weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and seen the forecast for temperatures near 100 degrees all weekend.
“It definitely worries me,” Kahne said on a conference call with reporters Friday morning. “But if we can come up with a solution to stay hydrated throughout the race prior to them and we feel really comfortable with it, then I’ll be in Las Vegas.”
Kahne admits this issue this was “definitely” part of his decision to decide not to run full-time in NASCAR beyond this season.
The problem is Kahne can’t replace the fluids lost sweating in the car. Practices aren’t as bad because he isn’t in the car as long as races. He said he knew Darlington would be hot and was “very hydrated” four days going into the race.
“At this point I have to just figure out how to finish these races, how to be able to go that long in a hot car in the environment that we’re in, between the air temp and the dew point degrees, just to control it all,” Kahne said.
“I work out three, four days a week. I run, I bike, I lift, I do interval work, whatever it may be. I feel great doing all that stuff. I’m in really good shape. That’s not the issue at all. Thirty minutes to an hour workouts and I’m fine. Just like in the Cup race I’m fine for the first hour, two hours probably. Then it starting going downhill from there.
“We just did blood work. The doctor had a few different tests that we did this week. So we’re just going through that stuff, trying to find a way to, you know, be able to put together a whole race and not hurt my body internally by the end of each race when they’re this hot right now.”