Beginning with the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season, Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports after signing a long-term contract with the organization.
"In Kasey, we saw an opportunity to cement a big piece of our future," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "He possesses incredible talent and a tremendous dedication to his craft, and we know he'll be a great fit within our company.
"Kasey has earned the respect of his future teammates by the way he's handled himself on and off the racetrack, and we know he'll be a contributor to the success of Hendrick Motorsports for many years to come. To have someone of his caliber join our team is an unbelievable opportunity for us."
Kahne, who turned 30 on April 10, is an 11-time winner in the Cup Series. Now in his seventh full-time season at NASCAR's elite level, Kahne also has earned 16 pole positions, 43 top-five finishes and 79 top-10s on the tour.
"I have a comfort level with Mr. Hendrick, my future teammates and the culture of the organization," said Kahne, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports will run through the 2015 season. "For me, it's the right fit on every level, and I think it gives me a great chance to win races and compete for championships.
"Determining the next step in my career has been an important process, and I'm excited and relieved to have the decision made and announced. Now it's my responsibility to put all of my energy into winning races and having a successful 2010 with my current team and our sponsors."
Kahne on Tuesday informed Richard Petty Motorsports he would not renew his contract after this season. Kahne has been with the organization, which started as Evernham Motorsports, since he entered NASCAR's top level in 2004. After a tumultuous 2009 season that saw him win two races but finish 10th in the Chase, he said he would let RPM's performance dictate whether he would remain in the No. 9 Ford. Evidently, seven races were enough. Kahne is 26th in points heading into this week's event at Texas Motor Speedway.
Budweiser, the primary sponsor of Kahne's No. 9 car at RPM, said in a statement that it had not yet broached the idea of potentially following Kahne to another organization.
"We have a great relationship with Kasey and he's a tremendous ambassador for Budweiser. We look forward to him continuing to pilot the No. 9 Budweiser Ford through the end of this season," said Mark Wright, vice president for media, sports and entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser's parent company. "There have been no discussions relative to our sponsorship as of yet; we look forward to having those at the appropriate time."
Although 2012 and beyond has been solidified, Kahne is not scheduled to drive a Hendrick Motorsports entry in '11 due to NASCAR's four-car limit. Mark Martin is signed through the '11 season in Hendrick's No. 5 car.
While who he will race for has not yet been determined, Kahne intends to drive a full Cup schedule next season. Various media reports have Kahne linked to Stewart-Haas Racing, which has a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports.
"If this opportunity was going to happen, I knew having some unanswered questions would be part of the scenario at this stage," Kahne acknowledged. "Hendrick Motorsports has a commitment to Mark Martin that they want to fulfill, and that's important. It's part of what attracts me to the team."