Kasey Kahne’s gig as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver is officially over. He announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he hasn’t been medically cleared for the six remaining races of the 2018 season, thus forcing him to cut his final campaign short.
Kahne, one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR, announced his retirement from full-time competition in August, effective at the end of the season. However, a health issue related to dehydration and heat exhaustion has prohibited him from finishing out his final races behind the wheel. He last raced at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2 and has missed five Cup Series rounds since then after the Dover playoff race.
Following the Darlington race, Kahne was treated in the track’s infield care center for extreme heat exhaustion. Prior to the next weekend’s race, the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, Kahne announced he wouldn’t be able to defend his 2017 win of the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because of persisting symptoms of his heat exhaustion.
"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 revealed. "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.”
Kahne then revealed in a press conference during Indianapolis race weekend that he had been having trouble keeping himself properly hydrated late in NASCAR races since 2017.
“I just can’t control the temperature in my body and my heart rate,” Kahne said. “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 also revealed that the issue factored into his decision to retire from NASCAR.
After the Brickyard 400, Kahne announced that he’d miss the first three races of the 10-race playoffs. He hoped to return to the driver’s seat in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet for the contest at Dover International Speedway on Oct. 7, but after a test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 2 didn’t produce the desired outcome, he was denied medical clearance.
Regan Smith has filled in for Kahne throughout his absence. Leavine Family Racing has indicated it would make some sort of official announcement on Wednesday. The team already has been on a driver search to replace the retiring Kahne and has been exploring a manufacturer change from Chevrolet to Toyota ahead of the next year.
The 2018 season was Kahne’s only one with Leavine Family Racing, but he previously raced for teams including Hendrick Motorsports, Red Bull, and Evernham Motorsports. The last of his 18 career wins in NASCAR’s top series was his victory of the 2017 Brickyard 400. He competed in 529 Cup Series races, running full-time in the series since 2004.