NASCAR's Kasey Kahne makes early move to Red Bull Racing team
A frustrated Kasey Kahne moved to the Red Bull Racing team earlier than planned Thursday and will climb into Red Bull's No. 83 Toyota starting Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville, Va.
RPM said Aric Almirola would take over that car Sunday, and its driver lineup beyond that would be announced later. There are five races remaining on this year's Cup schedule.
The changes are a tumultuous bridge to Kahne's previously announced plan to drive for the Hendrick Motorsports team starting in 2012. In the meantime, he agreed to drive for Red Bull next year.
But his switch to Red Bull was accelerated by Kahne's rapidly deteriorating relationship with RPM, which hit a low point Saturday night at the Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kahne, 30, was angry when his brakes failed and, citing illness, refused to get back in the car after it was repaired. He also complained that an unidentified RPM employee questioned his effort that night.
A fan favorite in NASCAR, Kahne has won 11 Cup races in his career, including two victories last year when he qualified for NASCAR's 12-driver Chase for the Cup title playoff. But Kahne is winless this season.
"With Kasey coming earlier than planned, we are excited to have a five-race head start," Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing's general manager, said in a statement. "With our agreement only being for one year, there is a great sense of urgency to get started on 2011."
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Driver Kasey Kahne prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Oct. 10, 2010. Credit: Todd Warshaw / Getty Images