Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – WEEDSPORT, NY – Kasey Kahne’s job may have taken place with the World of Outlaws in Weedsport, but the best part of his day occurred in the morning.
The former NASCAR Cup Series driver spent the morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, returning for the first time since his 2017 Brickyard 400 win. IMS is hosting the third-ever doubleheader featuring NASCAR and IndyCar in one weekend. A photo was taken at the yard of bricks featuring 44 past winners in the series, including Kahne.
Kahne spoke with Race Pro Weekly in an interview after his race at Weedsport to talk about the moment.
“It was a really good day. I enjoyed that and the reunion. It was cool to go back and visit with a lot of the other winners over the years. Unbelievable to be part of that and to hang out with Mario Andretti and ride in the two-seater before the IndyCar race started, which was an absolute highlight. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Kahne said.
The grandmaster of open-wheel racing, Andretti, drives the Honda two-seater before the start of every IndyCar race and brings a special guest behind his seat.
Kahne was honored to be selected.
Kasey could absolutely feel the difference between a NASCAR and an IndyCar.
“In the corners, [it’s much faster],” Kahne laughed. “It’s a road course, but in the corners, it’s quick. I’ve never rode with someone like that. To feel the forces is so different than me doing it myself.”
Kahne spent the day chatting with defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, the successor to the #5 car at Hendrick Motorsports. The number wasn’t in action from 2018-2020 after Kahne was released in ’17.
“I know Kyle at the dirt track. Once in a while, we’ll go out and eat. It was cool to see him at the track. He’s doing a lot of racing this week, not just at Indy, but other tracks as well.”
He also got a chance to watch the Nextgen car in person for the first time during the practice/qualifying before leaving for his flight to Weedsport.
Some have wondered how life has been for Kasey since moving away from NASCAR and making a more significant commitment to owning his Sprint Car team and driving it.
“It’s been good,” Kahne commented. “It’s been a big commitment. It’s not easy to do the traveling at a lot of these tracks I’ve never seen before. Even the ones I’ve seen is far from easy. Just trying to get the hang of it. I have enjoyed the season. Had some big wrecks that hurt for a minute but recovered well. I just need to keep doing it and keep getting better.”
Kasey finished 15th with the Outlaws, and is expected to race Sunday night, too.