Sunday, August 19, 2018

The DIGEST: Issue 2. Retirees, Trophies, Silly Season Hype and More!

There must be something strange in the water as this week three of racing’s big names all announced there departures from the sport. Also, the silly season rumor mill continues to churn as questions arise about the reigning Cup Series Champion’s future. Plus, trophies!

Kasey Kahne to Retire at the end of 2018 Season

The biggest story of the week in the NASCAR world had to be Kasey Kahne’s surprise announcement that he will be stepping away from full time NASCAR racing after the conclusion of the 2018 season.

Kahne moved over to the number 95 Leavine Family Racing stable after six years, and lackluster results, at Hendrick Motorsports. The Enumclaw, WA native has decided that he’s had enough of the Cup Series grind and is ready to pursue other things in life.

“It’s all that I really think about when we are having fun, when we’re — whatever it may be — I’m still there. I’m still thinking about racing, and I think it just gets to be a lot. Twenty-five years later, it’s just a lot, and it will be nice to not have that on my mind full-time. So that’s kind of my biggest reason is just to think more about him (son, Tanner), think about other things in life and things that I want to do, achieve, and just not be so deep into racing for a little bit.”

Aside from time with his family, Kahne is going to be able to spend more time with his World of Outlaws sprint car team. Kasey Kahne Racing recently scored a huge victory with driver Brad Sweet at the Knoxville Nationals.

“I feel like I’ll definitely do a little bit more. Our teams are very good,” said Kahne.

“Last week with Brad Sweet winning the Knoxville Nationals was a huge part for KKR. It was a dream for a lot of us to win that race. It was special to be there and cheer him on.”

“I still love that race. And that’s where I started or where I learned how to drive. I could see myself doing 40-50 sprint car races next year.”

Kahne, a former USAC Champion, began his NASCAR Cup Series career in 2004 with Evernham Motorsports. After winning the Rookie of the Year title that year, he went to score his first victory in 2005 at Richmond before scoring six wins in 2006.

Kahne has won the Coke 600 twice, and won last year’s Brickyard 400.

Elliott Sadler to Retire at the End of 2018 Season

Emporia, VA’s Elliott Sadler announced this week that after a span of over two decades, he will be ending his full time NASCAR career at the end of this season.

Sadler began racing in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1995, running four season before moving up to the Winston Cup Series in 1999 with Wood Brothers Racing. His first Cup Series win came in 2001 at Bristol; the first win for the Wood Brothers in eight years.

Sadler moved to Robert Yates Racing in 2003, picking up a victory at Texas in 2004. He continued to race in the Cup Series for Yates, Evernham, and Petty Motorsports through the 2009 season.

In 2010, Sadler and sponsor One Main Financial began racing for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. After the shutdown of KHI, Sadler continued on under the Richard Childress Racing banner for the next two seasons before taking his sponsor with him to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. Sadler spent the 2015 season racing for Roush Fenway Racing.

In 2016, Sadler moved to JR Motorsports, and has been a championship contender ever since.

Sadler was named the Grand Marshall of the Xfinity Series race at Bristol this past week, and gave one the best commands to start a race seen in recent years.

Truex Switching Teams in ‘19 Possible

As the 2018 NASCAR silly season ramps up, rumors have began circulating around the future of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr.

It was announced a couple of weeks ago that Furniture Row Racing sponsor 5 Hour Energy would be leaving at the end of the year, leaving about half of the number 78 car’s 2019 season open and without sponsorship. FRR owner Barney Visser has stated that he does not wish to once again fund the team out of his own pocket, has he had done since the founding of the team in 2005. However, in a statement released this week, he said that the team will continue in 2019.

"Furniture Row Racing continues to develop sponsorship opportunities for 2019 and beyond. ... Furniture Row Racing not fielding a team in 2019 is not an option and we have every intention of continuing to build on our success for years to come."

Even so, Truex has yet to sign a new contract for next season. When asked about how sure he was about his return to the 78 team next season, he couldn’t answer with confidence.

"That's hard to put a number on," Truex said after practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Honestly, I really don't know. I think in another week or two, I'll have a better answer for you, a better percentage.

"Right now, we need sponsorship. That's as simple as it gets. So it's hard to say. Is there a 50 percent chance we get that in a couple weeks or is there a 100 percent chance or is there 2 percent, I don't know. I can tell you that everything really is based upon that."

Should Truex be unable to come to terms at Furniture Row, there are rumors circulating about where he could land, including the soon-to-be vacated seat in the number 95 at Leavine Family Racing after Kasey Kahne retires at the end of this season.

Regular Season Trophies Unveiled

NASCAR unveiled the trophies to be presented to each series’ regular season champions earlier this week.

The two foot trophies feature an engraved spire for each of the various series’ regular season races. This accolade is presented to each regular season champion alongside the other, more pivotal award, 15 additional playoff points.

The first driver to receive his trophy was Johnny Sauter after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Bristol on Thursday and claiming the 2018 regular season title.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will crown it’s regular season champion at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis while the Xfinity Series will conclude their regular season the following week in Las Vegas.

Glenn Jarrett Signs Off at Michigan

Glenn Jarrett, son of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Ned Jarrett, and brother of NASCAR Champion Dale Jarrett, hung up his microphone following the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan.

Jarrett is a former NASCAR driver himself, having run 10 races from 1978 to 1983. He then moved to the NASCAR Busch Series, making 67 starts from 1983 to 1993.

Jarrett is most well known as a pit report for TNN Motorsports through the 1990s and early 2000’s. Following the end of the TNN era, Jarrett moved on to SPEED Channel. Jarrett was a common go-to reporter when networks needed an extra hand during weekends where the same network carried events in multiple locations.

SEE ALSO >> Jim Noble Leaves Tradin’ Paint >>

Glenn Jarrett finished out his career as a reporter for the Motor Racing Network.

Jarrett offered his appreciation to the racing community on his Twitter account.

Low Entry Count Forces Cancellation of Berlin 251

The week started without the annual Battle at Berlin 251. This event has traditionally been contested the Monday following the Cup race at Michigan but this was canceled due to a low entry count.

Berlin Raceway officials cited the low entry counts to the abundance of other races in the area, including the Kalamazoo Klash, and the upcoming championship runs causing teams and drivers to rethink making the trip to Marne, Michigan this year.

The event is planned to return in 2019.

MORE >> Looking Back at My Trip to the Berlin 251 >>

“Thanks to everyone for all the comments and well wishes last night...the fans, the drivers and team members,my comrades at MRN and everyone involved in our sport made this an incredible ride...I'm a lucky guy..I will miss all of you.”

The Digest is a weekly recap of top stories and tidbits from the previous week in the world of motorsports. If you've made it this far into the post, thank you. Please consider sharing this content on the interwebs and following PixelatedSPEED on Facebook and Twitter and joining in on the conversation.

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