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October 22nd, 2010
Kasey Kahne (left) and Jeff Burton suddenly have a lot of things in common. Both drivers have left teams early during their careers in order to get a head start on the upcoming season. (HHP/Gregg Ellman Photo)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — It’s always helpful to get a head start.
That is the belief of Kasey Kahne and Red Bull Racing, who are working together for the first time this weekend after Kahne was released from his contract at the financially unstable Richard Petty Motorsports earlier this week.
“I’m excited. It’s a big change for myself,” said Kahne, who was scheduled to join Red Bull next season. “I’ve been doing really the same thing for six and a half years. To make a change like this — it’s new people, it’s new cars, manufacturers, sponsors — I mean everything is different.
“It’ll be a big change for myself, just starting to work with new people. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to next year and now we kind of have a little bit quicker start on that,” Kahne added. “I’m looking forward to the next five races and getting started this weekend.”
Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton knows what Kahne is going through. In 2004, after spending most of his Sprint Cup career with what is now Roush Fenway Racing, Burton moved to RCR with 14 races left in the season.
“I think the best thing is for practice to start,” Burton said. “When that thing starts, the best way I know how to describe it, is when the buzz starts, it is like there is so much attention, there is so much anxiety, there’s no way that people leave each other without there being hard feelings.
“You want to watch what your old team is doing. You want to make sure you are doing better than them. Everybody is going to be comparing,” Burton said. “There is a lot of buzz that goes on around that.”
Burton said that the best thing Kahne can do is to climb into his new ride, the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, and focus on getting the car into race trim.
“The best thing is when [you start] practice and you can get in the car and now start focusing on the performance,” Burton said. “The questions begin to go away and the thought process is beginning to go away about the transition. Now, it is no longer a transition, you are doing it.
“I honestly believe that for the Red Bull group in particular, it is a great opportunity for them to start working. I’m not sure how it benefits the other group [Richard Petty Motorsports], but for the Red Bull group, it certainly puts them in position to get five races under their belt and go into the Daytona 500 without the buzz. Now you are going into the Daytona 500, you are already a race team. You are already a group. You are already together and I think that makes that transition a lot easier for Kasey.”