Richard Petty Motorsports announced late Wednesday evening that Kasey Kahne would be released from the team effective immediately. Aric Almirola will take over the No. 9 ride at Martinsville this weekend with a driver to be named replacing Kahne for the remainder of the schedule.
Almirola was originally scheduled to race the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota for Reed Sorenson, who is in Gateway for the Nationwide Series race with Braun Racing. Red Bull Racing officials confirmed Thursday afternoon that Kahne will finish the season with the No. 83 team.
“With our agreement only being for one year, there is a great sense of urgency to get started on 2011,” Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing Team’s vice president and general manager, said. “With Kasey coming earlier than planned, we are excited to have a five-race head start.”
While no reason was given in the two-sentence press release from RPM, it is believed that last weekend’s incident between Kahne and an unnamed team official sparked the decision. The team’s bad chemistry surfaced when Kahne said that a team official told him he was laying down on his team when the Washington-native did not return to race the damaged No. 9 car, complaining of an illness. Kahne said he vomited once after exiting his car after a late-race crash but did run in a 5K charity run the next day.
Kahne became frustrated when his brakes failed for the second consecutive race last weekend at Charlotte and third time this year.
“I lost it,” Kahne said. “I was just mad. I came into the race thinking we had a shot to win, thinking we had a good car in practice, we had a good shot. It went green. We were a little bit tight, but still actually passed cars and really felt good and then boom, my brakes are gone.
“It’s not like you have half-brakes, like you can pump them. Your foot goes to the floor. It bottoms out. It’s a joke.”
Kahne has gone winless so far this season and sits 21st in the Sprint Cup Series driver points standings. Kahne’s struggles come a year after he won two races and made the Chase despite the financial issues of the George Gillett Jr. and RPM’s communications within the race teams.
Kahne announced this summer that he would leave Richard Petty Motorsports and move over to Red Bull Racing for 2011 and then to Hendrick Motorsports for 2012.