Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Kasey Kahne’s first racing love was sprint cars.

His NASCAR career may be over, but racing sprint cars remains a passion for Kahne, who was at River Cities Speedway on Friday to watch his two teams battle it out with the rest of the World of Outlaws.

It was Kahne’s first time at RCS and he was impressed with what locals call The Bullring.

“I watched videos of racing at this place over the years and I’ve enjoyed them,” said Kahne. “It looks different than what I expected. I didn’t realize it was built up like this. I thought it might be cut down into the ground some but other than that it’s what I expected. And it always puts on a great race. I’m really excited to watch them race here.”

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Kahne is the owner of KKR, which fields the Brad Sweet and James McFadden teams. Both were competing Friday night.

Kahne was scheduled to race at RCS, but an injury during a sprint car race in May has sidelined him. He hopes to be back racing sprints as soon as possible. McFadden, an Australian driver, is filling in for Kahne.

Kahne is a fan of dirt short-track racing and he also understands the importance of the racing venues in their respective communities.

“It’s entertaining, especially if you have a good, little track with a good following on a weekly basis,” said Kahne. “I’ve always thought short-track racing is awesome. And that’s what I started in and we’ve had teams out here for years.

“My dad worked on sprint cars when I was little. So I grew up around it. Really, that’s what I wanted to do. I started racing mini-sprints, then sprint cars. I did that until I started doing the pavement stuff.”

Sweet nearly won the August 2018 WoO race at RCS. The California driver, however, did win last season’s Knoxville Nationals and is in the hunt for a points title this season as he trails only 10-time champion Donny Schatz.

“Brad has been great for years,” said Kahne. “And I think that every year he gets a little better. He’s getting more determined.”

While he couldn’t race Friday night, Kahne was involved with his two race teams in hopes of one of them winning the 40-lap, $10,000-to-win feature.

As he looked out at The Bullring, Kahne was asked how he would handle the track.

“It appears early on, that you attack the track all out,” said Kahne. “But it looks like a track that you can attack at all times.

“I was really looking forward to racing this thing. But that’s not going to happen. So, maybe later in the year.”

Kahne also signed autographs for an hour before Friday’s show. Hundreds of fans turned out to greet the former NASCAR driver.