DRIVER, NO. 5
Birthplace: Enumclaw, Wash.
Resides: Mooresville, N.C.
Background: Driver, No. 5, Farmers Insurance, Quaker State, HendrickCars.com Chevy (2012); Chase for the Sprint Cup participant (2006 and 2009); 11-time Sprint Cup race winner (2005-09); 20-time Sprint Cup pole winner (2004-2010); Richard Petty Motorsports and Red Bull Racing Team (2009-10); Evernham Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports (2004-08); NASCAR Nationwide Series (2002-03); USAC National Midget champion, National Midget Driver of the Year (2000); various open-wheel series (1994-2002).
Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolets for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. Although he’s the newest member to the four-car stable, Kahne brings with him considerable racing experience that should serve him well as he takes over the driver’s seat in Hendrick’s original Cup entry.
Kahne began his racing career by winning a Northwest Mini-Sprints championship and a title at Hannigan Speedway in 1996. Four years later, he made his first real racing statement, scoring an upset victory at Williams Grove Speedway and winning the USAC National Midget Series championship and National Midget Driver of the Year. In 2001, Kahne won four USAC midget races — including the Belleville Midget Nationals — on top of 10 top-five finishes in 11 starts. He also matched sprint car-turned-NASCAR star Jeff Gordon by claiming his second consecutive victory in the prestigious Night Before the 500 at O’Reilly Raceway Park.
Kahne soon was plugged into the NASCAR pipeline and began to work his way onto the Sprint Cup scene.
Kahne emerged as a championship threat in 2006, winning a series-high six races and earning an eighth-place finish in points after racing his way into the Chase. Statistically, 2006 ranks as Kahne’s best, and he earned six wins (including a sweep at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway), six pole positions, 12 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s. He also led 744 laps that year.
As one of the longest standing driver-crew chief tandems in the Sprint Cup garage, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis are in their seventh season together in 2012. The two have qualified twice for the Chase and overall have combined for 10 wins, 38 top-five finishes and 14 poles entering the 2012 season. They also own non-points victories in the 2008 All-Star event and 2010 Duels at Daytona.
Kahne’s racing efforts aren’t limited to the Sprint Cup series. In 2005, he formed Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) and four years later opened a 26,000-square-foot shop in Mooresville, N.C. He ran a limited schedule in the team’s inaugural season and, in 2011, he fielded entries in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series for drivers Joey Saldana, Brad Sweet, Cody Darrah and Paul McMahan (in conjunction with Roth Motorsports). In 2010, Joey Saldana won a series-high 13 A-features, led in laps led and tied for the most top-five finishes with 38.
Philanthropic involvement is a key focus for Kahne, who created the Kasey Kahne Foundation as a way to give back to chronically ill children and their families as well as disadvantaged youth. Every year, the KKF raises funds for these causes through several events including sprint car races, benefit concerts and even the “Five Kahne,” a 5K charity run through Charlotte.