For Kasey Kahne, the decision to retire from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing came down to one primary factor—his inability to commit his full energy and focus to the sport.
It wasn’t that Kahne didn’t have opportunities to continue his career at NASCAR’s highest level. He could have remained at Leavine Family Racing, where he has spent the 2018 season after parting ways with Hendrick Motorsports.
In fact, Kahne already had begun discussions with the team about an extension. But thoughts of his son Tanner and a desire to spend more time with the sprint car team he owns finally came to a head in the decision Kahne announced via Twitter on Thursday morning.
“I’ve thought about this decision for many months, if not longer,” Kahne wrote in a statement over his own signature. “It’s time for me to step away from racing in NASCAR full time.
“I appreciate everything LFR has done for me this season and offering the opportunity to race in 2019.”
Ultimately, it was an option Kahne felt he had to turn down. On Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 38-year-old driver elaborated on his Thursday tweet.
“I had some neat opportunities with Leavine,” Kahne said. “We were working together for the season, and it was going to keep getting better. There was money there. There were a few other offers that I had received over the last month and just options that we could talk about, things like that. It felt really good to have that, but at the same time, it wasn’t necessarily about that anymore.
“I didn’t feel that I could seriously race all of next year and be completely committed 100 percent, and I feel like there are guys out there that can be and that should have those opportunities over me at this point in time, because I don’t feel like I can be that guy from this point on.”
Kahne has accumulated 18 victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but his win in last year’s Brickyard 400 marked his only visit to Victory Lane since the 2014 season and his sixth since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
Kahne’s watershed season came in 2006 with team owner Ray Evernham and crew chief Kenny Francis. He won six races that year and finished eighth in the final standings. All told, he qualified for the postseason Playoffs six times, with a best points finish of fourth in 2012.
Kahne’s decision comes concurrent with his greatest success as a sprint car owner. Brad Sweet, who drives for Kahne, won the marquee Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals on Saturday night. Kahne said he might compete in as many as 50 races in his own cars.
“Not a full deal, because that doesn’t do me much good for backing off a bit,” Kahne said. “But you can do 40 or 50 races in about three months in that deal and still have eight or nine months to do other things.”