CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday marks the end of an era for Hendrick Motorsports.
Kasey Kahne is set to make his last start for the organization this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and after the checkered flag waves to end the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports will no longer field the No. 5 Chevrolet.
“Kasey is one of the best people you’ll ever meet, and he’s contributed so much to our organization,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “He’s won big races like the World 600 and Indianapolis, competed for championships, and added a lot to the legacy of the ‘5’ team.”
It was the No. 5 that started it all for Hendrick Motorsports as the organization’s first car number.
Having been run full-time ever since the team was founded in 1984, the No. 5 was raced to Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory by Geoff Bodine at Martinsville Speedway during its inaugural season, and Terry Labonte drove it to a Cup Series championship in 1996.
Seven drivers have piloted the car full-time since 1984 – Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Labonte, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, and now Kahne, who first took over the ride in 2012.
“It's special to drive the 5,” Kahne said. “I think to drive any Hendrick Motorsports car is pretty special with what Mr. H has put into racing. To be part of that at some point in my career is really special.”
Kahne noted that he has gotten to know many of the former drivers of the No. 5, and he has enjoyed being part of that distinct group.
But to him, as important as the number was the chance to race for the organization itself.
“Just being part of this company for a period of time was pretty neat," he said.
The No. 5 car number has amassed 38 wins for Hendrick Motorsports since 1984, with Kahne contributing six to that total including a trip to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this season.
Next season, the organization will field the Nos. 9, 24, 48 and 88 teams. So, Sunday at Homestead, Kahne will be the wheelman for the iconic car number’s grand finale.
“It’s going to be hard not seeing the ‘5’ car on the track next year,” Hendrick said, “but I’m proud that he’ll be the driver to give it one last ride.”