Woody: Raising Kahne Was Unnecessary
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
It was good to see someone finally get the horse back in front of the cart before any more damage was done by the Kasey Kahne confusion.
It has been announced (belatedly) that Kahne will drive next season for Red Bull Racing while waiting for Mark Martin to vacate his ride at Hendick Motorpsorts for Kahne in 2012.
Too bad the announcement was a tad late in coming. It could have spared some chaffed feelings.
Hendrick announced earlier this year that he had signed Kahne, even though he already had the NASCAR max of four drivers under contract for next year. That raised an obvious question:
What’s Kasey going to do during the 2011 season, sweep the shop and run out for coffee?
It had been speculated from the outset that Hendrick would find some other team to keep Kasey on ice for him next year, but when no such announcement was forthcoming speculation began to swirl and tensions rose.
Things boiled over last month when a TV commentator suggested that Mark Martin should step aside and let Kahne have his ride next season. It was a goofy statement, even by TV commentator standards. (And, typically, the commentator tossed it out without bothering to ask Mark or Kasey to respond). Martin was steamed.
The normally mild-mannered Martin bristled at the suggestion that he step aside. He took the media to task for asking him about it, instead of singling out the individual who made the comment.
It was not one of Mark’s finer moments, but it’s understandable that he would be a tad sensitive over a suggestion that he be put out to pasture.
Meanwhile, nobody seemed especially concerned that all this was happening while Kahne still had almost a full season of driving commitment to Richard Petty Motorsports. You figure it didn’t enhance team morale for its driver to announce that he’s leaving, even though he had no idea were he was going.
As we’ve said before, nobody can blame Rick Hendrick for wanting to add a hot young talent like Kasey Kahne to his stable of superstars.
And it’s impossible to fault Kasey for jumping at the opportunity to join the best operation in NASCAR.
The only blunder, by both parties, was the clumsy timing. It remains to be seen if there’s any scars left behind.
– Larry Woody can be reached at email@example.comOne Comment