Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kasey Kahne released from RPM, heads to Red Bull Racing effective immediately, but what does the future hold for Richard Petty Motorsports?

As I sit here on a Thursday evening reading some of my favorite blogs, forums and websites, I came across several bits of news that was released not only last night, but also throughout the morning and noon time hours.

Kasey Kahne to Red Bull Racing effective immediately:
Over the past week, one of NASCAR’s rising stars Kasey Kahne has had a tough time. During last weekend’s Charlotte 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kahne crashed on-track and the car went to the garage area. The #9 Budweiser Ford would return to the racetrack, but instead of Kahne behind the wheel, it was JJ Yeley as the team stated that Kahne was sick. During the race on Twitter, it was said that Kahne wasn’t sick, but mad about the car.

However on Wednesday night, Richard Petty Motorsports announced they are releasing Kasey Kahne effectively immediately. It was also announced that Aric Almirola who was scheduled to drive the #83 Toyota, now will be driving the #9 at Martinsville.

It’s also great to see that teams are calling Aric Almirola to drive there cars, he deserves to be able to prove himself in NASCAR.

But it didn’t take long from Kahne to land at another team. Earlier today, Red Bull Racing released a statement that said Kasey Kahne will be driving the #83 for the remainder of the 2010 Cup Series season starting at Martinsville.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Kasey Kahne’s year-plus stay in a Red Bull Toyota starts early and he’ll begin driving the No. 83 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Red Bull Racing Team announced Thursday.
Kahne was released from Richard Petty Motorsports on Wednesday night, paving the way for the 30-year-old to drive the No. 83 in the final five races beginning with Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Kahne will drive a Red Bull Toyota full-time in 2011 before moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

“With our agreement only being for one year, there is a great sense of urgency to get started on 2011,” said Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing Team’s vice president and general manager. “With Kasey coming earlier than planned, we are excited to have a five-race head start.”

For Kahne, the Martinsville weekend allows him to get acclimated with Red Bull Racing Team cars and personnel. He, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and the No. 83 crew open the weekend with practice Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET. (Source: Red Bull Racing)
Now of course, I will be interested in seeing how the chemistry is between Kasey Kahne, his new crew chief Jimmy Elledge and the rest of the #83 team starting this weekend at Martinsville and throughout the rest of the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Can Kahne be successful in his new ride especially with this early start?
I think so and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kahne make the chase (if there is one) in 2011 and be a contender. And maybe win a race or two in 2011. Kahne has the talent to win races and championships, he just needs a good team with good equipment behind him.

What is the future of Richard Petty Motorsports?
In and among all of the Kasey Kahne news online and on Twitter, several news reports said that according to sources, Richard Petty Motorsports might not make it financially past this weekend’s Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway and that Roush-Fenway Racing has repossessed engines and chassis's from RPM over no payment. At the same time, it was also rumored that one reason why RPM released Kahne was that they owned him back pay.

Now, none of this has been made official or confirmed and for anybody who knows me, I hate dealing in rumors and speculation. So on that note, my opinion is that I’m not surprised that these rumors are coming out especially after last year’s nightmare that RPM put Reed Sorenson went through in that Reed had to drive for free just to keep the team member paid. And I wouldn’t be surprised if RPM didn’t exist next season. But I will say that I feel bad for Richard Petty himself because he is in this mess and his name is on this race team.

If RPM closes up shop, where does Marcos Ambrose go in 2011?
I’m thinking at Roush-Fenway Racing especially if Ford wants him to and maybe even driving the #6 UPS Ford. I know that, that is a bold prediction, however this is NASCAR and just about anything is possible and if a person wants something to happen especially a manufacturer, it might just happen.