Red Bull confirms Kahne plans
Red Bull Racing confirmed Tuesday that Kasey Kahne will drive for the organization for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
The team did not release any specific details concerning which car Kahne will pilot. FOXSports.com reported Monday that the Kahne would join the team. The driver has already signed with Hendrick Motorsports for the 2012 Cup season.
“We were fortunate to have the opportunity to hire a very talented driver for the 2011 season and we took it,” said Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing Team vice president and general manager. “This is a unique situation that doesn’t happen every day. Kasey is a perfect fit for our company, team and Red Bull.”
Kahne, 30, has 11 Cup wins in his career. He has 84 top-10 finishes, 47 of them top-fives, and 11 pole positions.
“This opportunity places me with an established, competitive team that has proven they can win races and make the Chase,” said Kahne, who is completing this season with his No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports team. “I have great respect for Red Bull, so to have the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing Team in 2011 is a great fit for me, both personally and professionally. It feels good to be able to finally put this to rest and focus my energy on finishing the season strong for the 9 team and our sponsors.”
Rick Hendrick issued a statement on the decision as well, pointing out that as previously announced Mark Martin will continue to drive the organization’s No. 5 Chevrolet in 2011. Speculation has been rampant that Martin would step out of that car at the end of this season to make room for Kahne.
The constant questions had openly irritated Martin, who last fall agreed to a two-year contract extension to drive the No. 5 through 2011. He insisted from the moment Kahne's hiring was announced that he would complete that contract, but the uncertainty over Kahne's 2011 placement led to continued speculation.
"Kasey is going to a competitive organization that made the Chase last season and has great leadership and resources," Hendrick said in a news release. "Of everything we looked at, he and I agree it's the best opportunity for him to be successful in 2011, which was always our number-one priority.
"The process went on longer than any of us anticipated, but I'm glad that we took our time to make sure it was right. And although I'm not looking forward to racing against him next year, I'm comfortable knowing this is the best situation for Kasey."
Hendrick added that the organization is pleased to have another season with Martin in its car as well.
Martin is currently 12th in the Cup standings a year after finishing as the championship runner-up. Kahne is 17th in the standings.
"We're looking forward to another year with Mark Martin, one of the true class acts in racing, driving for Hendrick Motorsports," Hendrick said. "There aren't many things in this world I'd rather do than win a championship with him, and that will be our goal with the No. 5 team for the rest of this year and in 2011."
As to Red Bull, the team plans to make more announcements in the future firming up its plans.
“This obviously all happened very quickly,” Frye said. “Over the next month, we will finalize the specific team details.” Red Bull Racing Team’s final driver lineup for 2011 will be confirmed later this year.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.