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Kasey Kahne says he is relieved his difficult spell with NASCAR juggernaut Hendrick Motorsports has ended, despite having to fall back on a drive with minnow Leavine Family Racing.
Kahne spent the past six years of his NASCAR career with the 12-time Cup championship-winning Hendrick team, yet won only six races during his spell in the #5 Chevrolet before losing his drive for 2018 to rookie William Byron.
He qualified for the playoffs on points alone only once during that period, banking on his number of victories to make it through in 2012, ’13 and ’17, and had a 31-month winless streak before Indianapolis in August.
Kahne admitted his departure from Hendrick was a weight off his shoulders.
“I’m glad that I moved on because what we were doing there was not working for me,” said Kahne.
“So to have that part of it over with is great.
“I told all my guys that I wish the results would have been better the last three years there.
“If the results were better, I would still be there.
“I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on and that’s all perfectly fine. I don’t have any bad feelings at all.”
After losing his seat at Hendrick, Kahne quickly secured a drive at the small Leavine outfit, which runs customer Chevrolets built by Richard Childress Racing.
Leavine will be entering its eighth Cup season next year, but has scored only a single top five finish in NASCAR’s top flight.
Despite Leavine’s lack of past success, Kahne is looking forward to starting with a clean slate.
“It’s a fresh start all the way around. It’s not just a different owner, or different manufacturer,” he said. “I think it’ll be really good for me.
“It’s probably the first time, maybe ever, that it’s fresh, completely new in all aspects.”
Kahne was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of his new single-car team in his first weeks there.
“What I see out of them and the process of getting the new Camaro ready, working with [Childress], I just feel like it’s better than I expected when I signed up, and I thought it was going to be pretty darn good when I signed up,” he said.
“I don’t think I will have to adjust my expectations at all.
“As far as a team that’s working strictly for me and my needs, I haven’t had that in years. I can’t wait to get started.”