Former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne returns to sprint cars; set to race at River Cities Speedway
Outlaws set for back-to-back nights in Grand Forks and West Fargo
Kasey Kahne raced sprint cars before his NASCAR career -- one that saw the Enumclaw, Wash., native win 18 Cup races, including the Coca-Cola 600 and the Brickyard 400.
Kahne isn’t racing Cup cars anymore, but he’s still heavily involved in sprint racing.
He owns his own World of Outlaws team that includes 2020 series champion Brad Sweet.
However, he became a full time driver earlier this week when he agreed to drive the Roth Motorsports No. 83 car for the remainder of the World of Outlaws season.
That means Kahne will be racing Friday night at River Cities Speedway when the Outlaws make their second stop of the season at The Bullring.
Kahne and Roth have a long history, dating back roughly 20 years. Kahne agreed to run Roth’s car at last week’s Knoxville Nationals, and he finished eighth in the country’s most famous sprint feature.
He’ll be racing the final 24 WoO races of the 2021 season, starting at River Cities.
“I am really excited and thankful for the opportunity that Dennis and Teresa Roth are providing me to race with a great team for the last quarter of the season,” Kahne said. “It’ll be really fun, and challenging, going to some new places as we work hard to run up front every night with the World of Outlaws. We had a great trip to Knoxville, and I am looking forward to getting back to it and really getting started this weekend.”
Kahne made an appearance at RCS in 2019 when the Outlaws made one of their two appearances in Grand Forks. He didn’t race, however.
Kahne’s driver, Sweet, leads the WoO season points race, coming into RCS with a 140-point advantage over Carson Macedo. David Gravel is third while 10-time series champion Donny Schatz is fourth.
There is a local connection on the Roth Motorsports team, which is based in California. Grant Boyum, who is from East Grand Forks, will serve as Kahne’s crew chief for the remainder of the WoO season, which wraps up in Charlotte, N.C., in early November.
Roughly 30 sprints are expected for Friday night’s WoO event. The last WoO race at RCS was a classic as Kyle Larson nipped Logan Schuchart at the flagstand for a dramatic win last August. The Outlaws were scheduled to race at RCS on June 4, but were rained out -- the first time that had happened since the country’s top sprint car circuit began racing in Grand Forks in 2007.
There will be roughly a dozen full time WoO drivers who will race Friday night and they will be complemented by 15 to 20 RCS and regional sprint drivers.
Mark Dobmeier, the career leader in wins at RCS, again will be one of the top local drivers to challenge the Outlaws.
Dobmeier has three career WoO wins, including a preliminary feature win at the Knoxville Nationals -- regarded as the toughest weekend of the year in sprint racing.
Another RCS regular, Austin Pierce, comes into the WoO race with plenty of momentum, having won the last four sprint features at The Bullring.
Pierce also will break out a new car to run with the Outlaws.
“We’ve got another car with a better engine,” said Pierce. “I’ve never really run a great engine against those guys so hopefully we can qualify and start in the middle or toward the front in the feature and put on a good race.
“Everything is based on your qualifying time.”
Also Friday night, the NLRA late models will race. Those will be the only two classes racing.
On Saturday night, the Outlaws and NLRA late models will race at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.
Friday night’s WoO race
Where: River Cities Speedway
When: 7:30 p.m.
Feature: 40 laps
Top prize: Winner will receive $10,000
Last year’s winner: Kyle Larson
Of note: The track speed record was set in 2009 by Jason Meyers, who qualified with a one-lap time of 9.269 seconds on the quarter-mile track.
Past WoO winners at RCS
2020 – Kyle Larson on Aug. 21
2019 – Logan Schuchart on June 7, Donny Schatz on Aug. 16
2018 – Donny Schatz on June 15, Donny Schatz on Aug. 17
2017 – David Gravel on June 16, Donny Schatz on Aug. 18
2016 – Donny Schatz on June 17, Donny Schatz on Aug. 26
2015 – Donny Schatz on June 19, Donny Schatz on Aug. 21
2014 – Donny Schatz on June 20, Daryn Pittman on Aug. 15
2013 – Cody Darrah on June 21, Donny Schatz on Aug. 16
2012 – Kraig Kinser on June 15, Sammy Swindell on Aug. 17
2011 – Craig Dollansky on June 17, Craig Dollansky on June 18, Steve Kinser on Aug. 19
2010 – Steve Kinser on June 19, Joey Saldana on June 20
2009 – Donny Schatz on June 19, Craig Dollansky on Aug. 21
2008 – Donny Schatz on June 27
2007 – Joey Saldana on June 29