Kahne back in car after knee surgery

Kasey Kahne enters 2011 with a new opportunity and new-and-improved knees.

On Nov. 23, two days after the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kahne, 30, had arthroscopic surgery to remove plica, folds of skin or muscle, that had gradually become increasingly painful in recent years.

While most drivers spent the offseason vacationing, Kahne spent his time recovering.

“The first week was really good for having knee surgery,” Kahne said. “Then the next four weeks were really, to me, disappointing — it was so slow. I couldn’t move fast. It took me forever to do anything. I was pretty discouraged. By the fifth week, I woke up and felt like I slept all night.

“For six weeks, I didn’t hardly sleep and then ‘boom’ I slept well and they felt great. I’ve done therapy the whole time, since it was both knees. Now, I’m running and biking and training and everything is really good. They’re still sore, but they feel better now than they did prior to getting them done. I was (in) pain for a month, but I’m glad I got it done.”

Kahne, who will drive the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota this year, finished the last five races of the 2010 season substituting for his new teammate Brian Vickers. Last week during a test at Walt Disney World, Kahne jumped in a race car for the first time since the surgery.