Bass Pro Shops and Kasey Kahne don’t seemingly have a lot in common, but with the season now in full swing the two are about to have a very similar decision to make: do they stay where they’re at or look for greener pastures elsewhere.
It’s well known Kahne and Bass Pro are in contract years, and given the tension they’ve had with their respective organizations in the past their futures might seem clear; but with recent success and transition both could make surprise moves.
For Bass Pro the transition from DEI to EGR was less than a happy one. It was quite apparent last year that they weren’t putting much into their long standing deal. Even worse, when Martin Truex Jr. left, EGR had to do a lot of convincing to get the company to sign off on Jamie McMurray.
In just a matter of a couple of months though Bass Pro went from skepticism of their new driver, to celebrating with him in victory lane at the Daytona 500. As a sponsor do you stick with the current iteration of a team you’ve been with for years or go elsewhere? Arguably McMurray isn’t the best representative of the company, but if he continues to perform is there any reason for them to move on?
For Kasey Kahne the decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports is equally murky. He joined Evernham Motorsports in 2004 and in that time racked up 11 wins, including two last year. Since 2004 though, the organization has gone through two mergers and all but lost Ray Evernham’s guidance.
In September, Kahne was among those publicly and privately questioning who was in charge at RPM.
“There are not a lot of answers out there right now. I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the middle of a lot of things, we just don’t have a person in that position. I think Robbie Loomis is supposedly going to be that guy, but I don’t think that he is yet. Is it Foster? You can’t get anything out of Foster. So it’s hard to say who that is, and I think that’s because we’re in a lot of different things right now. But when you’re in things, you still need to keep your team and your guys, your company behind you knowing what’s going on, and we don’t have that. Hopefully, we’ll get it soon. The sooner we get that, the better everybody will be.”
Since that time though Kahne seems like a guy much happier with and much more sure of his situation. That said as one of the sport’s most popular and talented drivers, does he stick with a team that needs him more than he needs them? If Kahne enters free agency he’s sure to be the hottest driver on the market. He’ll likely be able to write his own ticket.
Certainly continued success is going to be important for all parties involved to consider staying where they’re at, but if that does happen is there a reason to move on? And how much success do Kahne and McMurray need to have?
No matter what happens from here on out, I think both have to consider the options available to them. Either one may choose to stay where they’re at, but with plenty of teams looking for sponsors and the likelihood of any number of available seats, Kahne and Bass Pro would be crazy to not see who’s interested.
So what do you think? Will Kahne and Bass Pro stay put? What will it take for their respective teams to keep them? If they do move on where do you think they’ll they go?