Red Bull Racing has officially welcomed the hottest free agent of the Class of 2010, Kasey Kahne, into its ranks. Early Tuesday, the team announced that Kahne would run for Red Bull for one year, filling the gap between Kahne's last year at Richard Petty Motorsports and the start of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to hire a very talented driver for the 2011 season and we took it," Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing Team vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "This is a unique situation that doesn’t happen every day. Kasey is a perfect fit for our company, team and Red Bull." He's right, you know. Chase-level drivers with one free year of availability really don't come around every day. It's true. I checked.
Kahne, for his part, delivered all the right soundbites in his statement: "I have great respect for Red Bull, so to have the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing Team in 2011 is a great fit for me, both personally and professionally," Kahne said. "It feels good to be able to finally put this to rest and focus my energy on finishing the season strong for the 9 team and our sponsors." Still to be determined are the specific team makeup and number for Kahne, as this was apparently a relatively quick deal once it got rolling.
"Of everything we looked at, he and I agree it's the best opportunity for him to be successful in 2011, which was always our number-one priority," Rick Hendrick said in a statement of his own. "The process went on longer than any of us anticipated, but I'm glad that we took our time to make sure it was right. And although I'm not looking forward to racing against him next year, I'm comfortable knowing this is the best situation for Kasey."
This news does calm the waters at Hendrick, since it means Mark Martin will now run another year in the 5 without being encouraged to surrender the seat a year early. However, it muddies matters over at Red Bull. Their lineup is in flux, as Brian Vickers' return from the blood clots that sidelined him this season remains uncertain. (Would this give him the option to sit out 2011 too in order to recover?) And in potentially ominous news -- if you happen to be Scott Speed, that is -- the team added that "Red Bull Racing Team’s final driver lineup for 2011 will be confirmed later this year."
Finally, this gives us the opportunity to create a new beverage: The Kasey Kahne. Half Budweiser, half Red Bull. Who'll drink one with me?
- Red Bull Racing
- Red Bull
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- Hendrick Motorsports
- Kasey Kahne