Hendrick said Monday that Darian Grubb would serve as Kahne’s crew chief for the rest of the 2017 season. Keith Rodden has been Kahne’s crew chief since the beginning of the 2015 season. He’s been reassigned to a different capacity at Hendrick Motorsports.
Kahne finished Sunday’s race at Chicago in 21st. He’s 15th out of the 16 playoff drivers following the first race of the third round. Twelve drivers move on to the second round and Kahne is five points behind the cutoff line.
Grubb was Tony Stewart’s crew chief as Stewart won five of 10 playoff races in 2011 on his way to the championship in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards. Stewart’s title was a surprise given the way his team struggled during the middle of the season. Not long after the checkered flag flew at Homestead, Grubb revealed that he wouldn’t be returning to the team at the end of the season.
Grubb, now a competition systems director at Hendrick, returned to the team in 2016 after he was a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing for four seasons. Before becoming Stewart’s crew chief, Grubb worked at Hendrick Motorsports and was the interim crew chief for Jimmie Johnson when Johnson won the 2006 Daytona 500.
In two seasons and 27 races, Kahne and Rodden’s only victory came in July at the Brickyard 400. The win got Kahne into the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Kahne’s 2018 plans haven’t been announced. Hendrick Motorsports is promoting William Byron from the Xfinity Series to take his place, though Byron will drive the No. 24 car as Chase Elliott’s car becomes the No. 9 in 2018.
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