Confirming reports that first circulated over the weekend, Red Bull Racing acknowledged Tuesday that Kasey Kahne will drive a Red Bull Racing Team Toyota Camry in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to hire a very talented driver for the 2011 season and we took it," said Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing Team vice president and general manager. "This is a unique situation that doesn't happen every day. Kasey is a perfect fit for our company, team and Red Bull."
Kahne, who will join Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, was without a team for 2011 because Hendrick has four drivers under contract for next season – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. NASCAR rules limit an owner to no more than four cars.
Kahne, who is in the final year of his contract with Richard Petty Motorsports, signed with Hendrick in April. Kahne will take over the No. 5 car in 2012, after Martin fulfills his contract with the team.
"This opportunity places me with an established, competitive team that has proven they can win races and make the Chase," Kahne said. "I have great respect for Red Bull, so to have the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing Team in 2011 is a great fit for me, both personally and professionally. It feels good to be able to finally put this to rest and focus my energy on finishing the season strong for the No. 9 team and our sponsors."
It also continues his run of appearances with new manufacturers in NASCAR. Kahne drove a Dodge in 2009. He's driving a Ford in 2010, and he'll be in a Chevrolet in 2012.
"This obviously all happened very quickly," Frye added. "Over the next month, we will finalize the specific team details."
Red Bull Racing currently has two drivers, Scott Speed and Brian Vickers – neither of whom are guaranteed to drive for the team next season. F1 veteran Speed, in his second full year with the team, is 27th in the Cup Series standings. Vickers has been sidelined since May for treatment of blood clots. He will not know until November if he will be able to return behind the wheel of the No. 83 for next season.
Kahne, 30, has a much more impressive Cup Series résumé. He has 11 wins, 17 poles, 47 top-five and 84 top-10 finishes and twice was a Chase participant in 2006 and 2009.
Kahne's future boss, Rick Hendrick, expressed satisfaction with the Red Bull solution for his driver.
"Kasey is going to a competitive organization that made the Chase last season and has great leadership and resources," said Hendrick. "Of everything we looked at, he and I agree it's the best opportunity for him to be successful in 2011, which was always our number-one priority."
"The process went on longer than any of us anticipated, but I'm glad that we took our time to make sure it was right. And although I'm not looking forward to racing against him next year, I'm comfortable knowing this is the best situation for Kasey."