Kasey Kahne Racing Looking for Win at The Dirt Track As Team Owner Tries to Defend Race Wins Across the Street
As defending race winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600, all eyes will be on Kasey Kahne and his Budweiser Dodge this weekend and next at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, his Kasey Kahne Racing team will be focused on the four-tenths-mile dirt track across the street for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 22.
Growing up in Enumclaw, Wash., Kahne dreamed of racing on the half-mile clay oval in Knoxville, Iowa, in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. He dreamed of winning the most prestigious events and competing against sprint car racing legend Steve Kinser. Dirt track racing was what he knew.
"When we grew up, our dreams were to be World of Outlaws racers,"
Kahne's cousin Willie Kahne said. "You watch the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 and you know that is cool, but times were different for us then.
"We never sat at home and said 'Let's go stock car racing.' We just wanted to run Outlaws. If we could have raced against Steve Kinser, we would have been the happiest kids in the world. Once Kasey got to stock cars, it was icing on the cake."
And the opportunity he needed to build a team in the series where he dreamed of racing.
With help from his sister Shanon, brother Kale and cousins Willie and Kole, Kasey Kahne Racing hit the dirt full-time in 2006 with Joey Saldana behind the wheel.
"Being in NASCAR and doing what I do, it gives me an opportunity to give back to short track racing and still be involved in the World of Outlaws," Kahne said.
Though Kahne's NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule in the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports limits the number of sprint car races he can attend each year and the number of hours he can dedicate to the team, the 29-year-old owner's influence on the operation is evident.
"He's the best owner that I've had in that he's not only an owner, but a driver, too," Saldana said. "So he can relate to what I feel in the car. As an owner/driver, he relates feedback back to me from what he feels in the car."
Kahne has enjoyed considerable success with his sprint car team the last few years. For the 2009 season, the team made a few changes - adding veteran World of Outlaws driver Craig Dollansky and switching to Maxim chassis to go after the championship.
"For me, I knew it would be special to be part of this team," said Dollansky. "They work real hard at their teams and they have good strong teams and good technology. The ultimate goal is to go out and win a championship."
Now in their fourth full season, Willie Kahne, who serves as crew chief for Saldana, believes that time is now.
"I think we've got as good a shot as anybody to win the championship," he said. "We've been let down and we've struggled and we've done everything other than win a championship. We just need to go and get it done."
After all, it's what the Kahnes dream about. It's what they know.
"It's what we are passionate about," he continued. "It's what we love doing. It has changed. Our dreams and what we do haven't ever changed.
We just wanted to win sprint car races. Kasey has a lot of other stuff on his plate, but we still get as big a kick out of winning a sprint car race as anything else."
Saldana got an early start on this year's championship goal by taking his No. 9 Budweiser to Victory Lane in one of the season-opening races at Volusia (Fla.) Raceway Park in February. He's since followed that up with four more A-Main wins. The wins plus six top fives and 10 top-10 finishes have Saldana ranked third in the point standings.
Dollansky is currently 38 points behind his teammate in fifth. He's scored five top fives and 12 top-10 finishes in his No. 19 DIRECTV entry so far this year.
As the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series invades The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 22, both Dollansky and Saldana will be in search of their first win at the four-tenths-mile facility.
And since the Sprint Cup Series is competing just across the street at Charlotte Motor Speedway, team owner Kahne will get the rare opportunity to see his teams compete.
"I always enjoy going to The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway,"
said Kahne. "It's not too often that we're all able to get together for a race and with it being in Charlotte, it gives most of us the opportunity to get over there."
Gates for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Showdown open at 4:30 p.m.
Drivers will participate in an autograph session from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. on the main concourse and opening ceremonies are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
FASTRAK Crate Late Models will also be in competition and more than 50 cars are preregistered for the event. Reserved seats are just $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
Tickets for the May 22 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Showdown can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.
A limited number of tickets will also be given away at the new Kasey Kahne Racing headquarters at 265 Cayuga Drive in Mooresville, N.C., on Wednesday, May 20, from 4 - 6 p.m. Kahne, Saldana and Dollansky will all be in attendance.