Kasey Kahne has admitted to being surprised by Richard Petty Motorsports' move to the Ford camp. which marks his return to the manufacturer after a previous acrimonious split.
Kahne, who used to be a Ford driver earlier in his racing career, believes the move will be a positive one for the long-term future of his team, although it is yet another major change in the organization he joined back in 2004 as Evernham Motorsports.
"I was a little bit surprised with that, but I think that it's better for Richard Petty Motorsports in the long run," Kahne said. "They're trying to build our company and make it stronger and I think that it will be a good thing."
The 29-year-old broke into the Sprint Cup scene when the squad was owned and controlled by Ray Evernham and he then saw it change to Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2007, as the Gillett family took equity in the outfit.
This year, he saw the team become Richard Petty Motorsports and now he is set to go through a manufacturer change as it merges with Yates Racing, a team for which he drove in the Nationwide Series back in 2002.
Kahne's departure from the Ford camp to join Ray Evernham's team was not an amicable one, and the manufacturer even sued him for trying to break his contract with Ford in order to get a ride elsewhere in the Sprint Cup Series. Kahne says driving for Ford will be different this time due to the circumstances that surrounded his departure to Dodge and Evernham's team, although he hopes time has healed any wounds left from their legal battle.
"I think that it will be a bit different, because of the way that our relationship ended last time," said Kahne. "We'll have to figure out how to get through that and go on with it.
"What Ford's done in racing has been really good with Roush and Yates over the years. I'm happy with Dodge and what we've done here, but it will be a bit of a change next year.
"I think it's going to be beneficial for RPM. I think we're going to help them out too. We have some things that I feel are better than Roush-Yates have. I think their engines are really strong and they have a lot of people to work hard on both programs. If we work hard, it could be a pretty cool deal."
Kahne, who has won two races this year and is close to making the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year, says he hopes the impending manufacturer switch does not affect this year's campaign.
"It's not going to hurt us in the context of support," said Kahne. "The people that we have that have worked hard to put us where we're at - putting the No. 9 car where we're at – are a lot of good people.
"They still want to win races. I want to win races and we want to run as well in the Chase as we can. Hopefully, it doesn't affect us. It could, hopefully it doesn't."
Kahne is currently the best-placed Dodge driver in the drivers' standings, having scored two of the manufacturer's victories this season.