Kasey Kahne is the latest high profiled NASCAR driver to be without a secured ride in 2018 after Hendrick Motorsports confirmed that he will not drive for the organisation next season.
The news comes despite Kahne winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. had also announced his retirement from NASCAR at the end of this season.
It means that Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott are the only returning drivers; while Alex Bowman had already been confirmed as the replacement for Earnhardt.
In making the announcement of Kahne’s departure, Hendrick Motorsports only confirmed that they will field a #5 car, but no driver confirmation at this stage.
Kahne joins Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Kurt Busch (Stewart Haas Racing) as highly experienced drivers without deals for 2018.
“I’d like to thank Rick (Hendrick) and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years,” Kahne said in a team release.
“We won six races together and I’m coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the (No.) 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs.
“We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds.”
The 37-year-old Kahne has 18 NASCAR Cup Series wins in 14 seasons after stints with Ray Evernham’s Dodge team in 2004 which saw six wins.
He also drove for Richard Petty Motorsports and the Red Bull Racing teams before landing at Hendrick in 2012.
“Kasey has worked extremely hard,” said Rick Hendrick.
“He’s a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one.
“I’ve always believed that he’s a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can.”
With the exception of 41-year-old Johnson, the Hendrick line-up takes a much younger look with 24-year-old Bowman and 21-year old Elliott in the squad.