For his first time back at the Tulsa, Oklahoma crown jewel in two years, Kahne was pleased with his performance and pleased with how the event continues to grow in stature and prestige.
“The Chili Bowl was great. It always is. It’s kind of an exciting week. It’s a fun event and it feels like it keeps growing and it’s a building,” said Kahne.
“We had a great time and just came up a little short of the big show … but I feel like it’s a breath of fresh air because we’ve got a couple of months off where you want to get back in a race car, and that’s the perfect spot to start the year.”
With the Chili Bowl behind him, Kahne now looks ahead to both his time on the dirt and his team’s pursuit of a championship. Pittman will return to the No. 9 full-time, despite only a partial season of confirmed sponsorship, while Sweet will pilot the No. 49 with complete backing from NAPA Auto Parts.
Kahne said that he was committed to both drivers, even amid looming questions about sponsorship at the end of last season.
“When we lost Great Clips, that put us in a tougher spot … but I was committed to Daryn Pittman and told him that he had a two-year deal with me, and this year was part of that,” explained Kahne. “We came into this year with zero sponsors for his car, but I knew I was running him regardless because I made that commitment to him. And to get ionomy on his car now, for [about] 40 races, is awesome. We’re excited. The car looks great. They’re excited and Daryn is in a great place. Hopefully we can build something from here [for him].”
“The NAPA deal with Brad … it’s unreal to have that and know that they’re going to be with us for a couple more years,” Kahne added. “That’s such a neat deal. [The Outlaws] race all over the United States in a lot of places that NASCAR and NHRA don’t go to, so that helps a lot of the [NAPA] stores and the guys that come to North Dakota or South Dakota and to these different race tracks that they normally wouldn’t get to see racing.”
Kahne also confirmed that his car will carry branding from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in the races that he runs during the year.
“We’ve been great friends with (Ollie’s President & CEO) Mark Butler for a long time,” said Kahne. “I opened up a lot of Ollie’s grand openings. Those stores are growing like crazy and I’m looking forward to running the yellow paint scheme all year.”
And with plans for all three team cars largely set for the season, Kahne added that he would like to hold on to both Pittman and Sweet for as long as he can.
“I really do like the pairing, having both Daryn and Brad on the team,” Kahne told Race Chaser Online. “They’re both really great guys and their families … I feel like there’s a lot of parallels between them and my own family and we all get along great. As long as the right pieces are there to do it, I definitely want to have both of them keep driving our cars and winning races for us.”
Kasey Kahne Racing will kick off its 2018 season during the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, Feb. 7-11.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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