Kasey Kahne will miss at least three of the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races as a result of an ongoing hydration issue. Regan Smith will continue as a substitute driver behind the wheel of Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 Chevrolet in the MENCS Playoffs.
Kahne’s absence from the race car began at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Sept. 10 running of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, a race of which he was the defending winner.
“I just can’t control the temperature in my body and my heart rate,” Kahne said at Indianapolis during his media availability on Sept. 7. “Once it gets to that point, there’s nothing I can do until I get out of the car. We’re still trying to figure that out. That’s why I’m not racing. I don’t want to create any more damage to myself or my body.”
Kahne said he has had ongoing problems remaining hydrated during races since last season. The issue resulted in extreme heat exhaustion during the last race he ran, the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2. It was the first race he had missed since beginning his Cup Series career in the 2004 season-opening Daytona 500.
Kahne announced in August his retirement from full-time NASCAR competition, effective at the end of 2018. Last weekend, he revealed that his ongoing health issue played a major part in that decision.
Kahne posted a tweet Wednesday explaining why he is waiting until the season's end to retire.
The Brickyard 400 was Regan Smith’s first Cup Series race since filling in for an injured Aric Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports last year. His most recent race in any NASCAR national series was the 2017 Camping World Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished 20th at Indianapolis on Monday.
Ten races remain in the 2018 Cup Series season. The plan of having Smith in the No. 95 for the next three races has him driving the car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16, Richmond Raceway in Virginia on Sept. 22, and Sept. 30 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval in North Carolina.
Smith has one career Cup Series win, coming at the 2011 Southern 500. In 214 career series starts, his stats also include four top-fives and 13 top-10 finishes.