Kasey Kahne signs three-year extension with Hendrick
Although it was announced Wednesday that the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will have a new crew chief in 2015, it doesn't appear the car will be getting a new driver anytime soon.
Hendrick announced Thursday morning that Kasey Kahne, who has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup and won at least once in all three of his seasons with the organization, has agreed to a three-year contract extension to remain the driver of the No. 5 car through the end of the 2018 Sprint Cup season.
"It's extremely gratifying to work with a driver like Kasey," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "I think the world of him both as a driver with championship-level talent and an overall terrific young man. Our whole organization has a great deal of respect for how hard he works, the professionalism he displays with our partners and the way he carries himself every day. We're committed to winning races and competing for titles with him for many years to come."
Kahne, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire following the 2015 NASCAR season, made the Chase in 2014 by virtue of his win on Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The season was largely a disappointment, however, as Kahne finished 15th in the standings after failing to advance beyond the Chase Contender Round along with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
Kahne, a 17-time winner in NASCAR's top series, will have a new crew chief next season with the arrival of Keith Rodden, a former Hendrick engineer who spent this past season as crew chief for Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing. Kenny Francis, Kahne's crew chief since the final race of 2005, has been reassigned within the Hendrick organization.
The re-signing of Kahne should put to rest some of the speculation that the 34-year-old driver could be replaced in 2016 by Chase Elliott, an 18-year-old Hendrick Motorsports development driver who turned major heads this past season by becoming the youngest champion of a major NASCAR series.
"I've found a home at Hendrick Motorsports," said Kahne, who joined Hendrick in 2012. "We have incredible people and partners supporting us, and I couldn't be more excited about the direction we're headed as a team and a company. It's the right place for me, and I'm looking forward to being here for a long time."
In other team news, residential garage door opener company LiftMaster will be Kahne’s primary sponsor in three Sprint Cup races annually and an associate-level partner in all other events for the next three seasons.
In 2015, the No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS will appear in Sprint Cup Series races May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 11 at Kentucky Speedway and Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway.