Heat Exhaustion Keeps Kasey Kahne from Defending Brickyard 400 NASCAR Win

The winner of the 2017 Brickyard 400 won't be in the 2018 edition of the Indianapolis race.

Kasey Kahne is the defending champion of the Brickyard 400, but the NASCAR veteran driver won’t defend his win Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has been sidelined by lingering effects of extreme heat exhaustion suffered in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina Sept. 2.

“Following Sunday night’s race at Darlington, Kahne was taken to the track’s care center where he was treated for heat exhaustion,” a statement from Leavine Family Racing read. “Several days later, Kahne opted to consult with several physicians who recommended that he sit out from this weekend’s events at Indianapolis until further testing and evaluations are completed.”

Regan Smith will fill-in for Kahne behind the wheel of the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet for Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at IMS. Smith has 213 Cup Series starts, most recently racing at Dover International Speedway in Delaware last year as a substitute for the injured Aric Almirola. Smith has one win in NASCAR’s top series—the 2011 Southern 500. Smith’s last NASCAR national-level race was the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November.

According to LFR, a timetable for Kahne’s return has not been determined. The 2018 Brickyard 400 will be the first Cup race Kahne has missed since he made his series debut in the 2004 season-opening Daytona 500.

Kasey Kahne wins at Indy

Kasey Kahne wins at Indy

, Kasey Kahne celebrates after winning the 2017 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23., Getty Images for NASCAR

Kahne announced last month that he would retire from full-time competition in NASCAR at the end of the season. After Indianapolis, 10 races remain in the 2018 Cup Series season. His 2017 Brickyard 400 win is his most recent trip to victory lane. Kahne moved to Leavine Family Racing ahead of the 2018 NASCAR season after being released from the No. 5 Chevrolet team at Hendrick Motorsports.