One of the most burning questions in NASCAR today, at least if you're a Kasey Kahne fan, is "Where will Kasey go for the 2011 season?" The party's definitely over at Richard Petty Motorsports; relationships there have begun to stink like old cheese, and the contract at HMS doesn't start till 2012.
The answer may be closer to Hendrick Motorsports than not. Rumor has it — and remember, this is just a rumor — that a deal is in the works that puts Kasey in the 09 car of James Finch's Phoenix Racing. This would be in partnership with Rick Hendrick, who as we know cannot own a fifth team since NASCAR capped ownership at four teams max. But Rick can supply engines and chassis to Finch or anyone else he pleases. And with Kasey in the seat, he's sure to continue to be pleased with supplying them to Finch.
Phoenix Racing is a one-car team at the Cup level that hasn't been on anyone's radar recently. Brad Keselowski did some time in that seat, taking the team to its first and only win at the Cup level in 2009, and this year Aric Almirola was expected to drive the whole season. But the loss of the long-standing Miccosukee tribe sponsorship, combined with Aric's failure to qualify for three of the first seven events, including the all-important Daytona 500, prompted Mr. Finch to offer the company up for sale and start talking about retiring from the sport just last April.
"I will probably be the last independent to ever win a Cup race," he was quoted as saying earlier this year. "Joe America can't afford to race any more ... if I can graciously get out, I will go on down the road. I'm in the business to have fun and I'm going to go where I can find fun."
Well, maybe he can continue to find fun in Sprint Cup for another year, after all. Kasey and his people refuse to confirm or deny this story, saying only that there are "several things" on the table as possible homes for the odd year out. But my money says this one sounds pretty solid, assuming they can arrange a decent sponsorship deal.
Meantime, in an interesting twist, the same rumor says that Mark Martin is looking to buy Phoenix Racing himself in 2012, after he vacates the 5 as his contract ends and Kasey's begins. Again, no confirmation from Mark, but a lot of these things have a way of panning out, don't they?
And just in case Mark doesn't buy Phoenix, the asking price is reported to be $12 million. Y'all get your checkbooks out!