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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.
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified for twelfth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. After a three-race absence, Tony Stewart has returned to the track at Atlanta. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualified for fourth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Newman is 9th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualified for third position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Larson is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, won the Pole position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. It was Harvick`s sixth pole win of the 2014 season. He is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, talks to Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS, finished ninth and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Great Stuff Chevrolet SS, finished 28th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS, finished eighth and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, finished 35th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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