Kasey Kahne (right) accepts the 2017 Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 winners trophy with Car Owner Rick Hendrick (second from left). Also pictured are Scott Borchetta of Big Machine (left) and Brantley Gilbert (left of Kahne) , at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. File photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
Driver Kasey Kahne will end his six-year run with Hendrick Motorsports following the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The 37-year-old Kahne has been released from the final year of his contract, allowing him to immediately pursue opportunities for 2018, Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday.
Kahne, who qualified for the 2017 playoffs when he snapped a 102-race winless streak on July 23 in the Brickyard 400, sits 19th in the points standings.
"Kasey has worked extremely hard," team owner Rick Hendrick said in news release. "He's a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one. I've always believed that he's a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can."
Kahne was signed by Hendrick Motorsports in April 2010, nearly two years before his February 2012 debut in the No. 5 Chevrolet.
Kahne earned six of his 18 career Cup victories with the No. 5 team over his six seasons. His best finish in the standings was fourth in 2012, his first year at Hendrick. He won two races in each of his first two years at Hendrick but won just two races since the start of 2014, and failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2015 and 2016.
"I'd like to thank Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years," Kahne said in the news release. "We won six races together and I'm coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the (No.) 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs. We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds."
Hendrick Motorsports did not name a replacement and continues to seek sponsorship for the No. 5 team as it loses primary sponsors Farmers Insurance and Great Clips at the end of the season. The organization said it will announce 2018 plans for its four-car operation at a later date.