A deal is in the works that could put Kasey Kahne in the No. 83 Toyota for Red Bull Racing as early as this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
Although Kahne has signed a contract to race for Red Bull in 2011, recent circumstances at Richard Petty Motorsports appear to have expedited the driver’s departure.
After Kahne’s brakes failed on Lap 124 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend, he refused to continue behind the wheel of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford. J.J. Yeley completed the race for the team.
Richard Petty Motorsports put out a statement late Wednesday night that Kahne has been released from his ride.
Kahne is expected to sign a deal Thursday morning to race for Red Bull at Martinsville. His status for the rest of the season is unclear.
Sources say he will finish the season with the team.
Aric Almirola, who was originally pegged to drive the No. 83 this weekend, will now fill Kahne’s seat at RPM. While there has been speculation that Marcos Ambrose would move early from his current ride at JTG Daugherty Racing to start his next stint with RPM, a JTGD spokesperson confirmed that the driver will "finish out the season as originally planned."
Kahne’s Sprint Cup career began with Ray Evernham in 2004 at Daytona. In his third start, Kahne put the No. 9 Dodge on the pole. His first Cup win came the following spring at Richmond. Kahne won a career-high six races in 2006, qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and finished eighth.
The following year Evernham formed a partnership with George Gillett in August and the organization was renamed Gillett Evernham Motorsports. In 2009, the company was rebranded Richard Petty Motorsports and Evernham became further removed from the fold.
While Kahne qualified for the Chase last year, he has never regained the magic that existed under Evernham’s leadership. He remained distracted into this season since his contract was expiring at the end of the year. An announcement leaked in April that Kahne would drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, but he was still under the pressure of finding a home for next season.
On Aug. 10, Red Bull released a statement that Kahne would pilot one of its cars in 2011. However, as a lame duck at RPM, Kahne just hasn’t had the chemistry that existed in the past. He is 21st in the point standings, his worst showing since his sophomore season.