Monday, March 2, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

In the Pits: Kahne knows he’s got to step it up for Hendrick

By
June 18, 2014 |

Hendrick Motorsports likes things neat and clean and organized. NASCAR’s top team works hard to avoid drama, and its way of doing business is a huge part of the organization’s success.

It’s fairly standard for Hendrick to tie its sponsors, drivers and crew chiefs into tidy packages of concurrent contracts.

That didn’t happen, though, last week when the team announced Farmers Insurance had signed a three-year extension of “its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.” There was no mention of the driver also getting a new deal tied to a sponsor that will be on the car through the 2017 season.

Kasey Kahne’s contract runs through 2015, about the same time Chase Elliott will be ready for a promotion from the driver development program to the big leagues. Hendrick Motorsports has got to put Elliott somewhere, and there’s no guarantee Jeff Gordon is going to smile his way into retirement and hand his seat over to Elliott. Gordon may be about to turn 43, but the four-time NASCAR champion is currently leading the Sprint Cup standings and has 11 top-10 finishes through 15 races.

It’s easy to read too much into Kahne being left out of the Farmers announcement, to turn a simple sponsorship extension into much ado about nothing.

But there are some obvious facts that make it hard not to wonder just how safe Kahne is with the organization:

— A seat eventually has to open for the 18-year-old Elliott, who has two wins and is thick in the Nationwide Series title race.

— The team eventually must put a plan together to replace Gordon, occupant of the No. 24 since the 1992 season finale.

— There could be a crop of free agent drivers coming available in the next few seasons, including Kyle Larson, a budding superstar that Hendrick could try to lure away from Chip Ganassi Racing. A matured Kyle Busch could be interested in returning to Hendrick, where he started his career, and Denny Hamlin has always been interested in being Gordon’s replacement.

— Most glaring, though, is Kahne’s performance: Four wins in 87 races dating to 2012. He was a career-best fourth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in that debut season with Hendrick, but he was 12th last year. Kahne is so far winless this season and is 19th in the standings. His teammates, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., have combined for six victories, rank 1-2-3 in the standings and are all locked into the Chase.

Nobody at Hendrick Motorsports has given any indication Kahne is on the hot seat. But he’s not talking about a contract extension with management just yet, either.

“Mr. Hendrick is always trying to help me as a driver; as a person and he gives us every opportunity. So, I want to be there a long time,” Kahne said last week at Michigan International Speedway. “We still have a year-and-a-half before my deal is up. So I think (it’s about) performance, and sponsors that want to be part of them, and just getting our team back where it needs to be. We’ve struggled some this year for really no reason. We can’t have that. If we can get rid of some of those struggles, I would hope that I would be at Hendrick Motorsports for a long time.”

Kahne had a fifth-place finish Sunday at Michigan. It was only his second top-five of the season, but it came on a day that Hendrick Motorsports routed the field. Johnson won for the third time in three weeks, Gordon was sixth and Earnhardt seventh as all four HMS entries landed inside the top seven.

Asked after the race if his finish silenced his critics, Kahne was blunt.

“Probably not all of them,” he said. “And they probably don’t all need to be silenced after one good run. We were way too bad the first 14 or 15 races, and hopefully this will get us going and we can get strong from here and make some points up and get in the Chase.”

Team owner Rick Hendrick tried and failed to get Kahne into his cars early for the 2011 season. It landed him at Red Bull Racing to wait out the 2011 season. Although he won once for Red Bull and finished 14th in the standings, it was never before than a holding place until he could finally execute the Hendrick contract he’d signed almost two years earlier.

Amid much fanfare, he finally joined the organization. But it’s tough to shine at HMS, where Johnson has been the most dominant driver of the decade, Gordon is an icon and Earnhardt gets the lion’s share of the attention no matter what.

And Earnhardt is winning right now, which really makes Kahne lost in the shuffle.

He wants to stay at Hendrick and is ready to discuss a future with the organization.

“I don’t know when that date is, but I think we have a lot of really good things going on, and with a little bit of performance here and there, maybe it will come up sooner than later,” he said. “I would love to be there for a long time, so we will kind of have to see how that works out.”

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Whiteside ready to take Travis school board seat

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    World War II spy shares tales of work behind enemy lines

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    I love to ‘read’ audiobooks

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    Council to hear budget scenarios

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    Sessions on Suisun water rate increases to start

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield High School celebrates black history

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Warm winter afternoon at Lagoon Valley Park

    By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Free medical series targets senior health issues

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Pena Adobe hosts natural dye-making presentation

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    PublicStuff, an online app, set for Fairfield

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Beginning gardening series starts in March

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Literacy celebration returns this month

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Shell casings, but no victims found on Del Sur Court

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    Vacaville 4-alarm house fIre

    By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    IHOP takes part in National Pancake Day

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Local governments schedule meetings this week

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Weather for Monday, March 2, 2015

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

    Corner Store Gallery schedules open house

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Kerry tries to dampen fuss over Israeli PM’s speech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Hundreds of bills introduced by California lawmakers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Lawmakers tinker with crime measure recently OK’d by voters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Storm brings rain, thunder, hail to Southern California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    California GOP recognizes gay faction of party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Family backs mom of infant found dead along California river

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Survey: Parents increasingly ask doctors to delay vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Newspaper: Nurse who survived Ebola says hospital failed her

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Myanmar captures rare white elephant in western jungles

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Crowd kills girl suspected to be suicide bomber in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    New plane tracking to be tested after Malaysia jet mystery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Iraqi premier gives ultimatum ahead of hinted Tikrit attack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Activists say Islamic State releases 19 Syrian Christians

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Sierra Leone’s vice president in quarantine for Ebola

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    30,000 marchers in Moscow mourn slain Putin foe

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, tricky cable job

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    .

    Opinion

    Your right to work for less

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

     
    Right fight in DC, but wrong reason

    By Colbert I. King | From Page: A8

    Editorial Cartoon: March 2, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    A night with a King

    By Delon Jackson | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: March 2, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: March 2, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Why timeouts only prolong the problem

    By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

     
    Horoscopes: March 3, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    Horoscopes: March 2, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

     
    It’s never a good idea to point out how big a pregnant woman is

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

     
    Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ tops box office with $19.1 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

    TVGrid March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Sports

    Lillard, Aldridge lead Blazers past Kings for 3rd in a row

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Curry scores 37, leads Warriors from 26 down to beat Celtics

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Jimmie Johnson pulls away for another Atlanta Sprint Cup win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants reliever Strickland insists he’s tranquil on mound

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Former Washington basketball star Christian Welp dies at 51

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Sharks trade Sheppard to Rangers for draft pick

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    4,000 attend Jerry Tarkanian tribute in Las Vegas arena

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Garnett buys 1,000 tickets for fans for next T-wolves game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Poulter, Casey share lead at rain-delayed Honda Classic

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Blatter concerned by Russian soccer racism before World Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Broadcasters propose FIFA election debate to Blatter, rivals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Major league baseball’s 1st black Latino star Minoso dies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Seller’s market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Andy Sullivan wins Joburg Open for 2nd title this year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    South Korea’s Amy Yang wins Honda LPGA Thailand

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Hannah hurls Bulldogs to 2-0 win over Campolindo

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

     
    Oregon women upset No. 19 Stanford 62-55

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Indians open season with 12-4 win over Falcons

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

     
    Oregon beats Stanford 73-70, clinches bye in Pac-12 tourney

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Process gets underway to carve up $60 million Sandusky fine

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Cal’s big run lifts Bears past Oregon State 73-56

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for March 2, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez nearing 1st spring game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Fast and furious: Rousey looks to future after 14-second win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Samsung ditches plastic design, adds mobile pay in new phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    In Apple’s latest update, emojis get diverse

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Mimi’s adds breakfast items to menu

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Lester Singer

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jacqueline Mendes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Garfield March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Blondie March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baby Blues March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Cryptoquote March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Sudoku March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    For Better or Worse March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baldo March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Pickles March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Garfield March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Get Fuzzy March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Frank and Ernest March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    B.C. March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Beetle Bailey March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Peanuts March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sudoku March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Word Sleuth March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Crossword March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7