CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kasey Kahne is in the
final stages of completing a deal to drive for Hendrick Motorsports in
2012, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with Kahne's plans spoke to
the AP on the condition of anonymity Tuesday because portions of Kahne's
deal are still being worked out.
Most notably, it's not clear where Kahne will
drive in 2011. HMS is currently at NASCAR's four-car limit, and Kahne is
working out a deal to succeed Mark Martin in the No. 5 car in 2012.
Richard Petty Motorsports announced Tuesday
that Kahne, one of the top free agents this year, will leave the team at
the end of the season.
That means Kahne still must figure out where
he'll race in 2011. Among his options are a potential ride with
Stewart-Haas Racing, which has an alliance with Hendrick, another
Chevrolet team, or, should Martin opt out of the final year of his
contract, Kahne could get the No. 5.
Kahne has been with a version of the team that
is now known as RPM since 2004, when he jumped from Ford's development
program to a Sprint Cup Series ride for then-owner Ray Evernham.
Although he has 11 career wins and two berths
in the Chase for the Cup championship, he has not been satisfied with
team performance for some time. He was openly critical most of last
season, when he overcame a hectic merger between Gillett-Evernham Racing
and RPM and severe financial issues inside the organization to win two
races and finish 10th in the Chase.
He's off to a slow start this year, in large
part to bad luck, and has just two top-10 finishes through seven races.
He's 26th in the standings.
"Kasey is a very talented driver, and I have
enjoyed watching him race," said team co-owner Richard Petty. "We all
wish him nothing but the best and hope he succeeds in anything he
chooses to do."