Kasey Kahne has been released from his driving duties with Richard Petty Motorsports effective immediately, the team announced. Aric Almirola will drive the No. 9 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The team's driver lineup beyond Martinsville remains to be determined.
Almirola originally was scheduled to drive Red Bull's No. 83 Toyota at Martinsville. Kahne, who will drive for Red Bull next year before taking over Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 car, will now take over the No. 83 for the final five races of the season, the team confirmed has now confirmed.
Kahne's release comes just days after the driver and his RPM team allegedly argued following the race at Charlotte (ABOVE). Kahne, who was already suffering from illness that night, had brake problems that led to an accident, causing damage to his car that took several laps to repair. Kahne subsequently refused to return to the track, however.
"I was told that I needed to start doing my part, is what one [RPM] guy told me last night after the race," Kahne told reporters at Charlotte last Sunday. "I told him he needed to start doing his part."
Red Bull Racing Team announced in August that they had agreed for Kahne to drive for the team in 2011 before he takes over from veteran Mark Martin at Hendrick. Kahne announced last April that he was leaving RPM at the end of the season after signing a multi-year deal to drive for Hendrick Motorsports from 2012.
Kahne has not enjoyed a good 2010 season with no wins to his name despite three pole positions. He currently ranks 21st in the Sprint Cup standings behind RPM teammate AJ Allmendinger.