CONCORD, N.C. – Not even Kasey Kahne himself could have predicted the rollercoaster ride that has been his World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series campaign.
It’s been the busiest season of his career and it all happened by accident.
By the conclusion of next week’s NGK/NTK World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Kahne will have made made more than 30 starts in the series this year, his most since 1999 in his pre-NASCAR days.
The year started with Kahne filling in for his own Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9 while Australian James McFadden was overseas for the birth of his son, Maverick. After substantial time off through spring and summer, another out-of-the-blue event brought Kahne back to finish the season in the Roth Motorsports No. 83.
For as unforeseen as his season has been, it’s still been a rather solid and fun year for Kahne. He’s had his moments of greatness such as a quick time and eighth-place finish at the Knoxville Nationals, two pole positions, leading laps at The Rev, a brilliant 23rd-to-fifth run at Magnolia, and a night contending for a Gold Cup title.
“Everything was definitely unexpected this year,” Kahne said. “It’s been a good kind of unexpected, though. I’ve enjoyed racing at this level so much again and I’d like to do more. It was nice to be in my car earlier this year and just get a feel to actually work hand-in-hand with my guys at the track. Finishing the year with a team like Roth, who was a part of my early career, has been really cool.”
In addition, it’s been another banner year for Kasey Kahne Racing.
With four races remaining, the organization is poised to clinch a third consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship.
The NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 remains the flagship program with Brad Sweet at the wheel and Eric Prutzman making the calls, but it was the entirety of KKR stepping up as the Mooresville, N.C., team returned to a two-car operation with McFadden and crew chief Justin Adams on the Karavan Trailers No. 9.
Through 76 events, KKR has collected 18 victories.
As for what’s next for Kahne the driver, it’s hard to tell specifically because of KKR’s monumental success.
“Hopefully, I’ll have some answers on 2022 soon,” Kahne added. “I’d like to figure it out pretty quick, but James has been doing such a great job in the No. 9 car. We’ve put a lot of hard work in to get that car back to being a top-tier team on tour and they’ve really been there these last few months.”
One thing for sure is no answers are needed in the No. 49 camp as Sweet and Prutzman approach a third-straight title.
“The combination between the driver, the crew chief, and the team is so much more difficult to find than people realize,” Kahne continued. “Brad, Eric, Joey [Mooney], and Andrew [Bowman] have hit on something together, they’re a perfect unit. You know Daryn [Pittman] and Kale [Kahne] were able to get that one title and Joey [Saldana] and Willie [Kahne] was so close to it as well, but it’s tough to win these championships.”