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Kahne is newest addition to Hendrick

Kasey Kahne brings new talent to Hendrick Motorsports
In the new, fun game of NASCAR monopoly, Hendrick Motorsports just built hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place with the addition of Kasey Kahne to the driver roster.

After Monday's rain-delayed Samsung Mobile 500, Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings by 108 points over Matt Kenseth, his closest pursuer. Johnson has won the past four Cup titles. Hendrick has claimed nine of the past 15 championships, dating to Jeff Gordon's first title in 1995.

The addition of Kahne will make Hendrick stronger, even though owner Rick Hendrick hasn't announced how he'll fit Kahne into his plans next year, given that he already has quality drivers for all four of his cars. The initial premise was that Kahne would spend 2011 “on loan” to another organization — Stewart-Haas Racing, perhaps — and replace Mark Martin in the No. 5 Chevrolet in 2012.

Nonetheless, Hendrick would have Johnson, Gordon, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kahne all under contract in 2011, concentrating an abundance of talent, star power and merchandising appeal under the control of a single owner.

That's a scary thought for the rest of the Cup garage. Jeff Burton sees it as a clear indication of owner Rick Hendrick's relentless commitment to excellence.

“Adding Kasey to the mix sends a clear signal to everyone in the sport that he, moving into the future, intends on winning championships,” Burton said. “It's an eye-opener. I know that every team in the garage wanted Kasey, and Hendrick ended up with him, and it is what it is.

“It's the same reason that Jeff Gordon went there, the same reason that Mark Martin went there, same reason that Jimmie Johnson went there, same reason Junior went there—because people believe that, right now, he gives them the best chance to win championships.”

Hendrick may have an embarrassment of riches at this point, but there is much that remains unsettled. Though Martin approached Kahne about driving for Hendrick in September, a story both drivers confirmed at Texas, news of Kahne's signing took almost everyone — including Martin — off guard. Clearly, it came before Hendrick, who is obligated to find Kahne a ride for next year, had settled the driver's status for 2011.

Crew chief Chad Knaus, an inseparable part of the equation that added up to four straight championships for Johnson, has not signed a contract extension with Hendrick. It's difficult to imagine a better situation could exist for Knaus, but he is a man who craves a challenge, and his market value has never been higher.




Related Pictures

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Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne (center) talks with current Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) at Texas Motor Speedway while Greg Biffle (right) looks on.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS stops in the pits on his way to his win Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, spins out after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy, driver of the #11 Local Motors Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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