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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.
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A large incident occurs on the backstretch during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. With him are Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finished second, and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, waves to fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, picks up the victory flag Sunday, May 3, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Sponge Bob Square Pants Ford, wreck during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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