Kasey Kahne says his decision not to compete this weekend at Indianapolis was made because he needs to figure out how to improve his hydration during races. The ongoing issue came to a head last Sunday at Darlington, where Kahne required treatment at the infield care center following the race.
On a teleconference Friday morning, Kahne explained that there were periods last year that have carried over into this season with his hydration getting worse deep into races. Kahne has gone to the care center a few times after races, but he said last weekend at Darlington was the worst he’s felt. The effects lingered to where Kahne sought out doctors to try and figure out what he needed to do to finish races in a hot car.
Going into Darlington, Kahne said he knew it was going to be hot so he had worked to stay hydrated. Coming after an off weekend, Kahne said he’d felt good and the two practice sessions on Friday went well which had Kahne optimistic.
“About halfway through the race I started getting to the point where I couldn’t drink anymore, and once I can’t drink anymore I’ve already lost a lot more (fluids) at that point in time than what I was able to put in — that’s why I can’t drink anymore,” said Kahne. “I keep drinking what I can throughout the race but it gets super hard and my body keeps sweating so much that I have nothing left by the rest of the race.
“At Darlington with 100 to go it was really hard to keep my eyes open and see. I was struggling to do that. I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high that I basically kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners. Had to just control the car doing as little as possible so that my heart rate would go down, and at that point all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health and not on what I should actually be focusing on, which is racing.”
After the race Kahne made his way to the care center where IV’s were inserted in both of his arms. That helped him feel better but he says he was still sick the whole drive back to North Carolina.
“Just been a rough week,” Kahne said.
After consulting with doctors, and knowing this weekend at Indianapolis would be another tough, hot race with a high dew point, Kahne opted not to compete in the Brickyard 400. Last year after Kahne won the Indianapolis race, he was visibly exhausted in victory lane, where he sat down with cold rags around his neck.
“Last week with 100 to go I definitely shouldn’t have been in the race car anymore,” Kahne admitted. “I stayed out there and just put my body through it and brain and head, and it was really difficult. It’s better for me to stay home and figure out how to help the situation before I get back in the car.”
Kentucky and Bristol were also races that Kahne specifically mentioned as being “rough” on him. Kahne says he feels fine the first hour or two of races. He also doesn’t have problems working out, as he does during the week.
“(I’m) trying to find a way to put together a whole race and not hurt my body internally by the end of these races when there are this hot right now,” he said.
Kahne doesn’t know why his hydration problems have developed in recent seasons and that is part of what he and the doctors are trying to figure out. He admitted that it played a part in his decision to retire from Cup Series competition at the end of the year. The issue “has been on my mind for sure, so yeah, it’s definitely part of that.”
However, Kahne said there has been no discussion about him not finishing out the season. He plans to compete at Las Vegas on September 16 — where temperatures are expected to be upward of 100 degrees — if doctors come up with a solution.