CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Kasey Kahne, the 2018 season will mark a return to where it all started on multiple planes.
For one, he’ll be back with a smaller team in Leavine Family Racing, much like when he drove for the then-single car Yates Racing operation part-time in the NASCAR Busch (now XFINITY) Series during the 2002 season.
But for another, Kahne will return to his racing roots by competing in 20 to 30 dirt track events through the year in addition to his NASCAR duties, a stark contrast from his previous tenure at Hendrick Motorsports.
Kahne will kick off his extracurricular schedule with five winged sprint car races during the annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, competing with both the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions and the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
In addition, he’ll continue to field both Daryn Pittman and Brad Sweet full-time on the Outlaws trail, as the pair fights to deliver Kahne his second title as a car owner and first since 2013.
“I’ve always had the two World of Outlaws teams we’ve raced, and I love that stuff,” said Kahne during the 36th annual NASCAR Media Tour on Wednesday. “It’s that type of racing that I came from and learned. I have Daryn and Brad doing that full time, but I plan on racing 20 to 30 races myself as well this year.”
“I’m going to do the first five in Florida, as long as it fits. We’ll start there but the No. 95 is priority for me. I make sure that’s all priority and then from there, I build my schedule as I go and I hope to get 20 to 30 races, depending on how they all fit in at the right times of the year.”
Kahne said recently on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive that he is looking forward to getting back to his dirt roots, especially given that in recent years, he hasn’t been able to do so because of contract restrictions when he was driving at Hendrick Motorsports.
“When I signed up, I wasn’t (restricted) at all. They said I could do whatever I wanted and enjoy it,” Kahne explained. “A year later, I was restricted from everything and wasn’t able to do that anymore. Last year, they were pretty cool about it. But it always felt like you were making somebody mad.”
“I won’t have that because Leavine knows that’s what I love to do and that’s what I want to do. I don’t want it to affect the No. 95 in any way. That’s the first priority. When we’re not doing that, it’s OK. Nobody is going to be mad if I try to do a little racing. It’s good to be in that situation again.”
“I’ve always tried to stay close to the type of racing I learned from and the type of car I learned how to race in, and those fans and racetracks I’ve spent a ton of time at and have really enjoyed over the years. I’m still a huge fan of that type of racing, because that’s where I came from and that’s where I want to be for a long, long time.”
The revelation of Kahne’s dirt plans comes on the heels of his recent participation in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, where Kahne fell three positions short of making the 55-lap championship A-Feature on finale night.
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