Kahne Follows Sadler Into NASCAR Retirement

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 16 2018

NASCAR star Kasey Kahne said he is decided to head to exit after current season. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – One day after Elliott Sadler announced that 2018 would be his final season as a full-time NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahne followed suit, saying Thursday he would not return next year.

In a letter released on Twitter, Kahne said he had thought about his decision for many months. He said he appreciated Levine Family Racing offering him the opportunity to race for the organization in 2019, but he felt it was “time for me to step away from racing in NASCAR full time.”

“Racing in Cup full time for a few more years was just something that I couldn’t commit to,” Kahne wrote. “I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I know I’m at ease with the decision that I have made. The highs don’t outweigh the lows and the grueling schedule takes a toll on your quality of life. I need to spend more time doing the things I enjoy and love and that’s spending time with Tanner and my Sprint Car teams.”

The 38-year-old Kahne made his NASCAR debut in 2002 in the Xfinity Series and two years later in the Cup Series. Since then he has competed in 527 Cup races and 215 Xfinity Series events. In 15 years in the Cup Series, Kahne has earned 18 victories, 27 poles, 93 top-five and 176-top 10 finishes, and led 4,678 laps.

His best finish in the point standings came in 2012 when he placed fourth. In 16 years in the Xfinity Series, he ran a limited schedule every year except 2003 when he finished seventh in the driver standings. He won eight of those races, earned nine poles, posted 46 top-five and 87-top 10 finishes, and led 1,378 laps.

Kahne is scheduled to meet with the media at 9 a.m. Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

When Sadler made his announcement Wednesday on Twitter, he said he was stepping away from the sport so he could spend more time with this family.

“It’s time for me to be the full-time Dad that I want to be,” Sadler said.

In a press conference Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 43-year-old Sadler said it was simply time for him to move on to the next chapter in his life.

“I love being around my wife and kids,” Sadler said.  

Wyatt, 8, and Austyn, 6, are heavily involved in school and extracurricular activities.

“I love being Coach Elliott,” Sadler continued. “I’m going to be coaching a lot of baseball in the future.”

The JR Motorsports driver said he was open to running selected races for the Mooresville, N.C.-based team.

Even though Sadler “feels good” about his decision, he admits he’s still hungry for a championship. He’s finished second four times in the battle for the Xfinity Series title, including the last two years.

“If we don’t win a championship, yes, it will bother me,” Sadler said. “There will be some sleepless nights over that, but I feel like I have pursued my dream long enough. I have two kids that are thoroughly involved in different things in their life and I think I’ve been selfish long enough. I want to help them pursue their dreams. My son and daughter’s life is more important to me than what I do on the race track.”

Sadler made his Xfinity Series debut in 1995. In 21 years, he has won 13 of the 383 races in which he has competed, recorded 18 poles, posted 102 top-five and 219 top-10 finishes, and led 2,042 laps. Sadler began his Cup Series career in 1997 and competed in 438 races over the next 17 years. He won three races, eight poles, led 1,251 laps and posted 19 top-five and 69 top-10 finishes.

Sadler said he had been approached by a couple of different teams about next year, but he had respectively declined because of his loyalty to JR Motorsports.

Sadler admitted he began thinking about his retirement at the beginning of the season because he knew it was a contract year. Kelley Earnhardt Miller told Sadler that even though his primary sponsor was leaving at the end of the season, she believed they could still provide him with a full-time ride in 2019.  However, he declined.

“NASCAR is a grueling schedule and I think maybe we’re thinking more about our quality of life these days,” Sadler said. “I felt horrible this year missing my kids’ All-Star games. I was miserable to miss all of that, what my kids were doing at home.”

Just like any driver, Sadler has experienced good and bad days in the sport, but he wants the fans to remember that he was a genuine person from a small town who lived his dream.

“To this day I think I’m the only race car driver that I know of that has had a huge fan party at his house in his backyard with thousands and thousands of people,” Sadler said. “So that’s a pretty cool leg to stand on. Hopefully, that’s how they’ll remember me; a fan himself, who just happened to be on the other side of the fence.”


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 16 2018
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