- Date of Birth:
- April 10, 1980
- Enumclaw, WA
- Mooresville, NC
Driver, No. 4, Red Bull Racing Team (2011); Chase for the Sprint Cup participant (2006 and 2009); 11-time Sprint Cup race winner (2005-09); 20-time Sprint Cup pole winner (2004-2010); Richard Petty Motorsports and Red Bull Racing Team (2009-10); Evernham Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports (2004-08); NASCAR Nationwide Series (2002-03); USAC National Midget champion, National Midget Driver of the Year (2000); various open-wheel series (1994-2002).
Red Bull Racing Team - Drivers - Kasey Khane
Racing World, Meet Kasey Kahne
A Northwest Mini-Sprints championship and track title at Hannigan Speedway were nice, but if Kasey Kahne were going to make it in sprint cars he’d have to go to the competition.
At age 17, only three years after he first strapped into one of father Kelly’s cars, he left his native Washington state for the Midwest — a region just as famous for sprints and midgets as the Southeast is stock cars. From 1998 to 2002, Kahne sharpened his skills in the winged sprinters of the World of Outlaws, All-Star Circuit of Champions, Gumout Racing Series and Northern Sprint Tour.
Kahne, as they say, arrived in 2000.
He opened with an upset victory at Williams Grove Speedway and closed with the USAC National Midget Series championship and National Midget Driver of the Year honors. A year later, Kahne won four USAC midget races — including the Belleville Midget Nationals — on top of 10 top-five finishes in 11 starts. He also matched sprint car-turned-NASCAR star Jeff Gordon by claiming his second consecutive victory in the prestigious Night Before the 500 at O’Reilly Raceway Park.
Like many young and talented American open-wheelers, Kahne soon was plugged into the NASCAR pipeline.
In 2002, as a part-time driver for an outmanned and underfunded No. 98 car at Robert Yates Racing, Kahne managed only one top 10 in 20 starts in the NASCAR Busch Series. The next season he earned full-time status in Akins Motorsports’ No. 38, totaling a pole, four top fives, 14 top 10s and a breakthrough victory in the Homestead finale.
THE STEP UP TO CUP
Enter Ray Evernham, an ex-champion crew chief who, when Dodge returned to Cup racing in 2001, formed a team of his own. After veteran driver Bill Elliott downgraded to a part-time role at the end of 2003, Evernham Motorsports had a vacancy in the No. 9 and the owner always had his eye on the kid from Enumclaw.
It’s fair to say Kahne adapted quickly to the Cup level. In two of his first three races — at Rockingham and Las Vegas — Kahne finished second to then-defending series champion Matt Kenseth. He ended 2004 as the Rookie of the Year with four poles and 13 top fives. He just missed the Chase, too, by a mere 28 points. In 2005, he led 242 laps to win his first Cup race in May at Richmond and had an impressive second-place run at Indianapolis, but nine DNFs spelled doom and a 23rd-place finish in points.
Kahne emerged as a championship threat in 2006, winning a series-high six races and earning an eighth-place finish in points after racing his way into the Chase as the 10th and final qualifier. Statistically, 2006 ranks as Kahne’s best: six wins (including a sweep at Charlotte), six poles, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s and 744 laps led.
The next two seasons were largely disappointing. He was shut out of victory lane in 2007, and in 2008 an All-Star/600 sweep at Charlotte and a victory at Pocono could only partly make up for missing the Chase for the second consecutive season.
Kahne got the chance to work alongside longtime mentor and seven-time champion Richard Petty after Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises merged to form Richard Petty Motorsports prior to the 2009 season. He earned his first road-course victory at Infineon Raceway (the Pettys’ first victory since 1999), followed up with a win at Atlanta and made the Chase for the second time, finishing 10th overall.
After a tumultuous 2010 season for Richard Petty Motorsports, Kahne got a head start on 2011 by driving the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota for the final five races. He started strong in his new job, finishing 14th at Martinsville and 13th at Texas. And in the finale at Homestead, he won the pole and finished sixth.
As one of the longest standing driver-crew chief tandems in the Sprint Cup garage, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis are in their sixth season together in 2011. The two have combined for 10 wins, 30 top fives and 12 poles. They also own non-points victories in the 2008 All-Star event and 2010 Duels at Daytona.
FROM KKR TO THE KKF
Even when Kasey Kahne’s not racing, he’s racing.
In 2005, he formed Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) and four years later opened a 26,000-square-foot shop in Mooresville, N.C. He ran a limited schedule in the team’s inaugural season and now fields entries in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series for drivers Joey Saldana, Brad Sweet, Cody Darrah and Paul McMahan (in conjunction with Roth Motorsports). In 2010, Saldana won a series-high 13 A-features, led in laps led and tied for the most top-five finishes with 38.
Kahne can hardly hide off the track, as three women from an Allstate commercial were once known to stalk the 30-year-old. He also made People Magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Bachelors” list in 2004. When he does get time to himself, he unwinds by skiing, boating, snowmobiling, fishing and watching a football game or two on TV.
He’s also passionate about his philanthropic involvement, which includes the Kasey Kahne Foundation. He created the foundation as a way to give back to chronically ill children and their families as well as disadvantaged youth. Every year, the KKF raises funds for these causes through several events including sprint car races, benefit concerts and even the “Five Kahne,” a 5K charity run through Charlotte.