A lot of bustling is going on over in the Hendrick Motorsports camp.
NASCAR isn’t a full week into the offseason, but the No. 5 team of Kasey Kahne is making changes. Earlier this week, it was announced that Keith Rodden would return to HMS to crew chief Kahne. Rodden left his position as Kahne’s lead engineer to crew chief Jamie McMurray.
The switch severs the driver’s long-running partnership with Kenny Francis, who has been his crew chief since Homestead in 2005. It was the second-longest driver/crew chief relationship, behind the championship-winning duo of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. Rodden joined them in 2006, a crucial part of Kahne’s team until he moved in 2013. Matt McCall will take his place on top of the No. 1’s pit box.
As if that weren’t enough, Thursday brought news that Kahne signed an extension with HMS, tying him to the No. 5 car until 2018. A new sponsor is also joining the mix; Lift Master, who appeared on McMurray’s car since 2012, will become a primary sponsor for Kahne from 2015 to 2017. It will be featured three times next season.
The contract extension puts to rest the rumors that 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott will replace Kahne. After a difficult year for the team, the questions kept rising, and nobody had real answers. The result was a slight overhaul for the team, securing their driver, a new crew chief, and a sponsor in the matter of a few days.