Kasey Kahne met with the media Friday at Martinsville Speedway to talk about his early departure from Richard Petty Motorsports and move to Red Bull racing, beginning this weekend.
How excited are you for this new opportunity?
I’m excited. It’s a big change for myself. I’ve been doing really the same thing for six and a half years. To make a change like this is -- it’s new people, it’s new cars, manufacturer, sponsor -- everything is different. It’ll be a big change for myself. Just starting to work with new people, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to next year and now we have a little bit quicker start on that. I was with the guys yesterday putting seats in the cars and just trying to get prepared as well as we could for today and for this weekend. The atmosphere and the excitement up at Red Bull right now, it’s nice to be part of that. I’m looking forward to the last five races and getting started this weekend.
How did the decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports come about?
Really, to me I was leaving. I was going on starting next year and it made sense for RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) to start working on their things for next year and for myself to get with the Red Bull guys at this point. It’s kind of a jump start on next year, is what I see it as. That’s the biggest thing. It’s been kind of a crazy week. There’s been a lot of different things going on and maybe different opinions on what happened or what’s going to happen and that kind of stuff. I’m looking forward to this weekend and I’m happy that I’m in the Red Bull car. Hopefully, I can work well with this group of guys and go pretty fast at times.
Are you still owed money from Richard Petty Motorsports?
On that side, I’m paid up to date from RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports). I’m paid up to date. They’ve met their commitments there and that’s been really good that they have. I thank them for that.
Are you relieved to leave Richard Petty Motorsports?
I don’t know if it’s relief, but it’s my future and it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to was next year. We get started a little bit earlier. Last weekend, Saturday night, to have a problem like we had on lap 30, that just doesn’t happen at a track that you don’t use very much brake at. And then to happen before. We’d had things go on throughout the season. At that point in time, it was difficult and I think the timing of all this made sense. It was nice for me when it happened and I think it’s good for RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) when it happened.
What have you heard about the status of Richard Petty Motorsports?
I’ve heard a lot. I think everybody has. It’s just speculation. I think it’s a lot of talk. For me, I certainly hope that RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) keeps rolling. I hope that they finish out this season and put together another great season next year. That’s what I want them to do. I want that team to keep going. There’s a lot of good people there that deserve to have job and deserve to be working on these race teams. For me, I hope they keep rolling for sure. You’d have to ask RPM about some of the other stuff to get the right answers because I think a lot of it could just be speculation.
What have you heard about the financial situation at Richard Petty Motorsports?
I’ve been able to stay out of it and start working on the Red Bull side. I’ve talked to Kenny (Francis, former crew chief) and talked to the guys there, but as far as that stuff goes, I really have stayed out of it, so I’m not sure on that.
How were you released from Richard Petty Motorsports and will Kenny Francis (former crew chief) join you this year?
It was a mutual release and for me, I think that’s a good thing for both sides. They’re happy about it and we’re happy about it. On the Kenny Francis thing, he’s gonna stay there throughout the rest of the year. That’s his deal and next year he’ll come over to Red Bull. He’s gonna stay there and I’m gonna work with Jimmy Elledge (crew chief) the rest of this year and I look forward to it. I think it should be fine.
How do you respond to a driver calling you a ‘prima donna’ after Charlotte?
On the things that have happened in the past, that’s the past and we’ve gotten through them. I’ve worked hard to get through them. Everybody has that’s worked for Evernham, Gillett, RPM, that was part of it that time. I don’t know who the driver was, but it’s what happened. I put a commitment in. Anyone that questions my commitment doesn’t know me very well and doesn’t know how much I love this sport and how much I put into racing. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that puts as much in it as I do throughout a week. Some guys may, some guys may not. I feel like I do everything I do to make myself the best I can be and we kept having problems. And I was sick to my stomach. It was time for me to just call it a day and that’s what I did. I’m happy I did it and ready to go onto this weekend.
How did this situation come about this week?
It just started Monday and we just put it together and got it figured out and we went our separate ways. I think there’s a lot of things on both sides that made it make sense. For me, next year’s going to be, it’s one year and it’s going to be a short year and I’m happy to be prepared and get prepared a little bit early, knowing a little more about the company, about the cars, the engines and the things that I’m going to be driving next year. I want to come out and win next year and the only way to do that is to be prepared and get off to a great start at the start of the season. Hopefully this will help in some of that and we will be a little quicker when we start at Daytona.