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Cup Notes: Kahne Facing ‘Lot of Unknowns’

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 14 2009
Kasey Kahne hopes that next season, he will be still be signing autographs with Kenny Francis as his crew chief. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Kasey Kahne hopes that next season, he will be still be signing autographs with Kenny Francis as his crew chief. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Avondale, Ariz. – When asked to look into his crystal ball and predict how Richard Petty Motorsports’ merger with Yates Racing will impact him, Kasey Kahne made it clear Friday that he wants to continue working with crew chief Kenny Francis and keep his team intact in 2010.

But he also painted a picture of uncertainty over the actual merger.

“From the sounds of it, talking to all the guys, everybody wants to stick together,” Kahne said. “I feel like we’re going to have the same team.

“As far as next year and testing and all that planning, I don’t know.  I know that we’re trying to win races and do everything possible to win. But as of right now, that deal is not done.  To me, there are still a lot of unknowns.

“For me to go over (to Yates’ shop)…I doubt that they want me over there and I don’t know if I should be over there.  I don’t drive for them yet.  I don’t know how all that’s going to work.  I know it’s not done.  I know that I’m going to have the same team and that’s all that I can ask for, sticking with Kenny Francis and our guys that we have.”

Five days after being wrecked on the third lap at Texas Motor Speedway by Sam Hornish Jr., Chase for the Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson admitted on Friday that he originally placed more blame on the former open wheel driver than might have been necessary.

“I guess it was easy for me to blame (Hornish) because he was the guy that came up inside and got into me,” said Johnson, whose title lead over Mark Martin shrunk to 73 points heading into Sunday’s next-to-last race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway. “I think he was the one kind of holding up the line. It’s just easy to blame him.

“But it did take two cars. And I think Sam had some handling issues. He wasn’t going all that well. As he got into the turn, he checked up more than (David Reutimann) thought. (Reutimann) made contact and off it went.  So there were a lot of ingredients to what went on.”

Carl Edwards offered some insight Friday on how much longer he’ll compete in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series on a full-time basis.

“I plan on doing it for the next two years,” Edwards said. “That’s my plan right now. That could change, but I enjoy it. It seems like a grind when you’re not running well.

“So, as long as we’re winning races and able to compete for the championship, I’d like to keep doing this. On Fridays, sometimes there’s a lot of running back and forth.

“If I could just show up for 30 minutes and then race on Saturday, then it would be the perfect situation. That is an idea I had for the Cup drivers, is that we should be allotted only a small bit of practice. I think that would help the series and it would save us some time.”

Mark Martin believes Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, has a lot in common with a driver who launched his NASCAR career in the 1980s.

“I see a lot of myself, younger self, in Chad Knaus, although I wasn’t a crew chief,” Martin said. “He is very, very intense. He pushes really, really hard. He leaves no stone unturned.

“He’s insanely driven. That reminds me a lot of my younger self.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 14 2009
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