NASCAR nuance? Talk of 3rd team, Kahne 'informal'
Sunday, May. 16, 2010
Stewart Haas Racing competition director Bobby Hutchens said on Sunday that he has had no formal discussions with Hendrick Motorsports about adding a third team for next season to accommodate Kasey Kahne.
Though such decisions are usually finalized by late summer, he’d prefer to have a decision on a new program – including driver and sponsor – by June 1 to avoid disrupting the programs of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman and “not be in a panic” in building cars and purchasing equipment for 2011.
Kahne has signed to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick, but Mark Martin, the current occupant, is contracted through the end of 2011. Hendrick is working to outsource Kahne to a Chevrolet team under the premise that his current lineup will not change before 2012.
“We have not had what I call permanent discussions with Mr. Hendrick or anybody at Hendrick Motorsports to zero in on (Kahne),” Hutchens said. “Kasey Kahne was definitely a possibility back when we started looking at this thing for ourselves in the middle of last year, so we’re going to just see how all this shakes out.”
Though not “diluting” the efforts of Stewart’s No. 14 and Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet teams is a priority, he said, current performance levels will not be the determining factors.
Stewart began Sunday's race 18th in points. Newman, the winner at Phoenix, was 14th. Both qualified for the Chase last season.
Hutchens said that in the current sponsor marketplace – neither existing Stewart Haas team is fully funded for 2011, and Old Spice announced last week that it would not return after this season – a new driver would almost certainly have to bring a sponsor.
Like Kasey Kahne and Budweiser?
“Yeah,” Hutchens said. “There’s some kind of balance there already. Can that happen? Who knows?
"(SHR executive vice president) Brett Frood and everyone in that group is working furiously to try and answer some of those questions so we can make some plans moving forward.”
Those would include replacing Kahne and possibly his sponsor after one season. Budweiser’s deal with his Kahne’s current team, Richard Petty Motorsports, ends after this season, as does Kahne’s personal deal with the brewer for his World of Outlaws team.