And now it's official: Red Bull Racing has announced that Kasey Kahne will begin driving the No. 83 Toyota starting this weekend in Martinsville. It's the end of a turbulent 16 hours in which Kahne was revealed to be seeking his release from Richard Petty Motorsports and, indeed, got exactly what he was seeking -- though whether it was on the terms he wanted remains to be determined.
Kahne is contracted to drive for one year for Red Bull before moving on to Hendrick Motorsports starting in 2012. "With our agreement only being for one year, there is a great sense of urgency to get started on 2011," said Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing vice president and general manager. "With Kasey coming earlier than planned, we are excited to have a five-race head start."
Kahne will drive the 83 for the rest of this year, and according to AP/Yahoo! Sports' Jenna Fryer, will switch to what is now the 82, which will change its number to 4 (the number Kahne uses in sprint cars). Starting next year, Kahne's RPM crew chief Kenny Francis will man the box, but for the remainder of this year, current No. 83 chief Jimmy Elledge will remain in charge.
The new-look 83 team, including Frye and Kahne, will be speaking to the media Friday morning at Martinsville. And it's going to be an interesting press conference indeed ... though probably not as interesting as one involving the principals of Richard Petty Motorsports would be.