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Kahne Will Drive Hendrick No. 5 Car in 2012

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 13 2010

Kasey Kahne and Richard Petty will be parting company after the current season. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kasey Kahne will take flight after the current season and land at Hendrick Motorsports – but not until 2012.

RacinToday has been told by a source familiar with the deal that Kahne has signed a contract with HMS and will be in the No. 5 Hendrick car, which is currently being driven by Mark Martin, but not until Martin’s contract with HMS expires after the 2011 season.

The source said that Kahne’s plans for the 2011 season have not been finalized.

A Hendrick Motorsports spokesperson said Tuesday afternoon that the team would not comment on the report.

Offiicials from Kahne’s current team,  Richard Petty Motorsports, acknowledged that they will part ways with the young driver after the 2010 season

“Kasey is a very talented driver and I have enjoyed watching him race. We all wish him nothing but the best and hope he succeeds in anything he chooses to do,” said team owner Richard Petty.

“Drivers like Kasey Kahne are the very reason we got into this sport. Kasey has helped us get to where we are today,” George Gillett, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports said. “We wish him well in his future however we have the rest of this season to race together and we’re looking forward to a successful remainder of the year.”

Kahne began his Sprint Cup career with Evernham Motorsports in 2004. Over the next five seasons, Kahne won eight races.

In 2009, the team merged with Petty Enterprises and became Richard Petty Motorsports. For the current season, the team merged again, this time with Yates Racing.

In 2009, Kahne won twice and had seven top-five finishes.

Kahne’s contract with RPM entered its final year this season. He said he would consider all options.

On Tuesday, he eliminated the option of with staying with RPM.

Hendrick currently fields the maximum number of cars allowed by NASCAR rules – four. The drivers of all those cars – Jimmie Johson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin – are locked into deals for 2011.

Last September, HMS extended the contract of driver Mark Martin through the 2011 season and Martin has stressed that he plans to fulfill that contract.

But, Stewart-Haas Racing, which gets equipment and support from HMS, only has two drivers at this time.

Could Kahne spend next year with Stewart-Haas? Possibly.

The RacinToday source said that “everything is on the table” for Kahne when it comes to his situation for 2011.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 13 2010
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