Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that Kasey Kahne will drive the organization’s No. 5 Chevrolet beginning with the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. He has signed a long-term contract with the team. Mark Martin, 51, the current driver of for the No. 5 team, will complete the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
"In Kasey, we saw an opportunity to cement a big piece of our future," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "He possesses incredible talent and a tremendous dedication to his craft, and we know he’ll be a great fit within our company.
"Kasey has earned the respect of his future teammates by the way he’s handled himself on and off the racetrack, and we know he’ll be a contributor to the success of Hendrick Motorsports for many years to come. To have someone of his caliber join our team is an unbelievable opportunity for us."
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Kahne, 30, has won 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in his career. Now in his seventh full season, the driver has earned 79 top-10 finishes, including 43 top-fives. "I have a comfort level with Mr. Hendrick, my future teammates and the culture of the organization," Kahne said. "For me, it’s the right fit on every level, and I think it gives me a great chance to win races and compete for championships.
"Determining the next step in my career has been an important process, and I’m excited and relieved to have the decision made and announced. Now it’s my responsibility to put all of my energy into winning races and having a successful 2010 with my current team and our sponsors."
Where Kahne will drive in 2011 has not yet been determined, according to a Hendrick release. Hendrick has four drivers under contract for next season and cannot add another team because of NASCAR’s team limit. He does intend to drive a full schedule in 2011, though he is parting ways with his Richard Petty Motorsports team at the conclusion of this season. He has signed with Hendrick through the 2015 season.
"If this opportunity was going to happen, I knew having some unanswered questions would be part of the scenario at this stage," Kahne said. "Hendrick Motorsports has a commitment to Mark Martin that they want to fulfill, and that’s important. It’s part of what attracts me to the team."