Kasey Kahne may be headed to Red Bull Racing in 2011, that according to the Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com. Kahne would take over one of the team’s Toyotas as he awaits to jump into Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Sprint Cup Chevy in 2010.
RBR may be in the market for two drivers next season, as rumors are surfacing that Scott Speed may be out at the end of the season. Brian Vickers’ status is also up in the air, as he recovers from blood clots that sidelined him for the season.
Mark Martin would continue to pilot the No. 5 in 2011, the final year of his contract with HMS. Ironically enough, Martin’s name has also been linked to RBR in recent weeks. But that was denied by Martin’s representatives and RBR GM Jay Frye.
Frye would not confirm or deny whether his organization has had discussions with Kahne or Hendrick Motorsports. Frye said:
Kasey is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports next year. That is a question for Hendrick.
Sources said that the deal is not complete, however. Still, they say that this is the most viable option for Kahne.
HMS and Kahne representatives have declined to comment.
Kahne was signed by HMS earlier this year, despite having a full stable of drivers under contract for next season. Since then, rumors have persisted of where Kahne, whose contract with Richard Petty Motorsports expires at season’s end, will end up in 2011.
Thus far, he has been linked to Phoenix Racing. But, that rumor was denied by James Finch, Phoenix Racing’s owner. He was also linked to Stewart Haas Racing, but the team said that there have been no discussions. He was also said to be considering staying at RPM for one more season.
Update: According to SceneDaily, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Kahne would indeed drive for Red Bull Racing in 2011. It’s unclear at this time which car he would drive, as Brian Vickers’ health status is unknown, and the team has not decided whether or not it will keep Scott Speed in its second car.
Update 2: Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, issued a statment saying:
Kasey [Kahne] is going to a competitive organization that made the Chase last season and has great leadership and resources. Of everything we looked at, he and I agree it’s the best opportunity for him to be successful in 2011, which was always our number-one priority. The process went on longer than any of us anticipated, but I’m glad that we took our time to make sure it was right. And although I’m not looking forward to racing against him next year, I’m comfortable knowing this is the best situation for Kasey.