The Dawg House
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     Some surprising NASCAR news was announced today as Richard Petty Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne announced that he has signed a multi-year deal to drive for Hendrick Motorsports beginning next season. Kahne, the hottest 2011 free agent, appears headed to Hendrick after spending 7 seasons with RPM, formerly known as Evernham Motorsports. Although the deal has been confirmed by Richard Petty Motorsports, the fact that he's leaving RPM is pretty much the only sure thing.

    Hendrick Motorsports currently houses the maximum 4 Cup teams: the #5 driven by Mark Martin, the #24 driven by Jeff Gordon, the # 48 driven by Jimmie Johnson, and the #88 driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Because Hendrick cannot add any more teams, a driving change will have to be made. Most speculate that Kahne will replace Martin, either in 2011 or in 2012 after spending the year with Stewart-Haas Racing, a Hendrick affiliate. After all, Martin is currently 51 years old. Surely he'll be ready to retire. However, just in case Martin wants to stick around for a few more seasons, I have another idea of how Kasey Kahne could drive for Hendrick Motorsports.

   If Martin doesn't want to retire after this season, there doesn't seem to be much budge in Hendrick's driving lineup. Jimmie Johnson, the Cup champ 4 years in a row, is signed through 2015, and the chances of him leaving Hendrick are about the same chances of winning the lottery 4 times in a row. Jeff Gordon has a lifetime contract with Hendrick, and if he wanted to leave the organization it would have already happened. The backup plan in my eyes in Dale Earnhardt Jr. Without a doubt the most popular driver, Hendrick would be seen in a negative light if they just got rid of Jr. That's when Earnhardt's Nationwide team, JR Motorsports, comes in.

   JR Motorsports could function identically to Stewart-Haas Racing, getting their equipment from Hendrick without being considered in the Hendrick stable. This could give Earnhardt Jr a chance at owning a team in the Cup Series, give Hendrick the chance to field Kahne a team, and allow Martin to continue driving. If still necessary, Kahne could move to the #5 car, allowing Junior to return to the #88. Earnhardt Jr, still wanting to be a team owner, could then hire another driver to drive his JR Motorsports car. You could call this move crazy, Earnhardt Jr driving for one team while owning another. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure his father did it very successfully.   

  Kahne's move to Hendrick Motorsports puts me in an odd situation. I've disliked Hendrick Motorsports as far as I can remember, and having my favorite driver move to the organization is odd. As much as I hate having Kahne mentioned with Gordon and Johnson, this is without-a-doubt a Grand Slam for Kasey Kahne. He goes from just contending for the Chase with Richard Petty Motorsports to contending for a Championship year in and year out. I see nothing but blue skies for Kahne, and I don't think Mr. Hendrick will be disappointed in the results he sees with Kasey Kahne driving Hendrick Motorsports equipment.    

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