Richard Petty Motorsports have released Kasey Kahne from his driving duties with immediate effect in what has rapidly become an acrimonious relationship between the driver and his team.
The saga started in April when it was announced that Kahne would become a driver for Hendrick Motorsports, taking over the #5 car from Mark Martin, but not until 2012. At the time it was open to speculation what Kahne’s plans were for 2011 but by August it was announced that he would be placed out on loan by Hendrick to the Red Bull team for next year.
That was followed by questions over the future of Kahne’s crew chief at RPM, Kenny Francis. There were stories that Red Bull were not prepared to have him act in that role for Kahne for one year and then take any knowledge gained from Red Bull on to the Hendrick team should he follow the driver there in 2012. That was recently resolved with the announcement that Francis would indeed go with Kahne from RPM to Red Bull although there is no official word about where he goes after 2011.
As this season has progressed Kahne has become increasingly vocal about his unhappiness with the preparation of his car. Last year Kahne won races at Sonoma and Atlanta and made The Chase, finishing the year in tenth place in the standings. This year he languishes back in 21st with nine top ten places to his name but no wins. He had previously complained about brake issues with the #9 Budweiser Ford so was most definitely not impressed when brake failure led to him hitting the wall at Charlotte on Saturday night.
The car was taken behind the wall to the garage for extensive repairs and made ready to go back out but Kahne refused to drive it citing vomiting as his reason not to. He was incensed too that he had already been told that evening by one of his crew that he should start to pull his weight. The #9 did eventually return to the track but with JJ Yeley at the wheel to record a 38th place finish. The following day Kahne turned up and ran 5km for the charity he runs, “5Kahne”.
Yesterday the decision was taken by the team that enough was enough and they announced that Aric Almirola who was scheduled to drive the #83 Red Bull car at Martinsville on Sunday will now drive the Budweiser Ford for RPM instead.
There has been no announcement about what car, if any, Kahne will drive this weekend nor from Red Bull on who will drive the #83 car, originally meant for Brian Vickers who has been sidelined since May following the discovery of blood clots in his legs and chest.