Uncertain Futures Result In Focus On Playoffs

Logan Whitton/Harrelson Photography Inc.

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

With 2018 plans uncertain for drivers like Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, and Kurt Busch, the focus has to be on the playoffs, but having to worry about plans for next season are in the back of their heads.

For Kahne, it was announced that he was out of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2018 in August to be replaced by William Byron. Despite not being with this same team for 2018, Kahne and his team are focused and motivated on having a great rest of the season going into the playoffs.

“Well, I think the thing that I kind of figured out a week ago is that it’s really what I want to do and it’s what I want to do with the group of guys that I have.  They have put a lot into it, I’ve put a lot into it and we still can have a great season because of these final 10 races.  So, I just feel like I talked to them and all of us agreed that we put everything that we have into it and if we finish first, fifth, eighth, wherever that is, as long as we all put it in the final 10 races we are going to feel good about it.  So, that is where we are at.”

In July at Kentucky Speedway, Matt Kenseth spilled the news that he would not be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018. A few days later, the organization announced that Erik Jones would be taking Kenseth’s spot. Kenseth believes that his crew is performing at its highest level and is focused, despite him not returning next season, going into the playoffs

“I think if you have to keep your team focused, then you have issues. So, I mean, I think everybody’s focused on trying to win. It’s a really competitive sport. They certainly all have all the incentive in the world to perform at the highest level. They’ve been doing that,” said Kenseth. “Especially on pit road the last three weeks, they’ve been killing it. I feel pretty good with where we’re at, to be honest with you. Obviously we didn’t have the finish this week, had problems, kind of got off a little bit in the middle of the race. But honestly I feel pretty good with where we’re at right now.”

At the beginning of August, Stewart-Haas Racing as announced that they would not pick up the option in Busch’s contract for the 2018 season. For Busch, the trust is there with Stewart-Haas and Ford Performance in the playoffs

“You hire good people, and I have a great staff around me with my agency and the trust that I have I people that work for Ford Motor Company, people that work for Haas Automation and the people that work for Monster Energy.  It’s having the trust I them and the right people around you in a situation like this,” said Busch.

Despite all three drivers not having solidified plans in 2018, they all have a common thread: remaining focused at the task of competing for the title of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

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