Number 9 Dodge
April 10, 1980
Smart, friendly and media savvy Kasey Kahne is the perfect example of the new breed of NASCAR driver. Though a rookie in 2004 he has a ton of talent
and drives wiser than his years of experience would suggest. He caught the eye of Ray Evernham before he ever had a Busch Series victory and took over
the #9 Dodge in 2004 when Bill Elliot retired. He splashed on the sport immediately with two second place finishes in his first three NEXTEL Cup
races, losing those two races by a combined .03 seconds. Kasey has as much potential as any rookie the sport has seen in the last 20 years.
It didn't take Kasey Kahne long to prove his skills behind the wheel of a race car. Like most of NASCAR's finest, Kasey comes from a grass roots
background. His first competitive laps came on dirt tracks in his home state of Washington. He won four races in his first season running Micro
Kahne's progression was anything but gradual. He won 11 of 14 races in 1996 to win the Hannigan Speedway championship and the Northwest Mini-Sprint
Car championship. By 1998, Kasey was running full-size sprint cars. He visited Victory Lane a dozen times in his first season.
Steve Lewis, who has employed the likes of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, offered Kahne a sprint, midget and Silver Crown deal that would run the full
United States Auto Club (USAC) schedule. In his first season, Kahne garnered the USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year award, and both the USAC Midget
Series Champion and Driver of the Year honors.
In 2002, Kahne signed with Robert Yates to run a limited NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division schedule. His best finish was a 10th-place effort
at Michigan International Speedway. Kahne got his first Busch Series win in the 2003 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For Kahne, who had
quick success in every other stop in his career, was surprised it took so long to get a Busch Series win.
"I really didn't think it would take so long. It did take a while, almost two years, but I did learn a lot in all that time and it actually felt that
much better when we finally did win a race.
"It was more a relief than anything, I think."
In late 2003, Kahne was pegged to take over the No. 9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports after its driver, Bill Elliott, announced intentions to run a
"I couldn't think of a better way to grow as a driver than working with a leader as great as Ray Evernham," Kahne said.
[Edited on 24/5/05 by TRD]