Budweiser Taps Kasey Kahne As Next Driver of its Legendary Race Car
ST. LOUIS. – Labonte, Waltrip, Elliott and Earnhardt. In addition to being among the most celebrated names in motorsports, these drivers share in the proud tradition of racing for one of NASCAR’s most successful sponsors – Budweiser. Today, Budweiser announced Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne will become the next world-class racer to take the wheel of the iconic red Budweiser car when the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season kicks off in February.
“Budweiser has a long and storied history with NASCAR and some of its most successful drivers. We’re excited about Kasey’s ability to add to that outstanding lineage,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president, global media and sports marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “Along with team owners George Gillett and Ray Evernham, we feel the pieces are in place for the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge to contend for NASCAR Sprint Cup championships for years to come.”
Kahne was NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year in 2004 after closing out the Cup season 13th in the points standings. In 2006 he won six races and six Budweiser Pole Awards – more wins and poles than any other driver – and qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup in just his third year in the Cup Series.
“The fan in me is thrilled because driving for Budweiser is the kind of opportunity you dream of when you break into this sport. I’m excited about getting behind the wheel of a car that’s been driven by some of the best this sport has seen,” said Kahne, who has seven wins, 31 top-fives and 46 top-10s in three and a half years on the Cup circuit. “We’ll be out to win races and championships, and everyone involved with our organization feels we can do that.”
“If Kasey’s proven anything in his young career it’s that he has the talent to be one of our sport’s most consistent winners,” said Gillett Evernham Motorsports co-owner Evernham.
“He’s already one of the most popular drivers on the circuit and only stands to benefit more from Budweiser’s track record for helping develop drivers with sponsorship activation that’s second to none,” added Gillett.
Kahne began his NASCAR career in 2002 running 20 Busch Series races with one top-10. In 2003 he recorded his first victory in the series finale at Homestead, finishing the year with four top-fives, 14 top-10s and a seventh-place ranking in the final points standings.
Kahne excelled during his rookie year in 2004 in all three of NASCAR’s top series. He had 13 top-fives, 14 top-10s, and four Budweiser Pole Awards in his first full season racing Cup, nine top-fives and 14 top-10s in 30 Busch races and won both Craftsman Truck races he started. Kahne picked up his first career Cup victory in 2005 before recording his breakthrough 2006 performance.
Budweiser first sponsored a team on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit in 1983, and in 1998, Budweiser became the “Official Beer of NASCAR,” cementing the brand’s place among stock car racing’s elite sponsors. Budweiser is also the sponsor of the Bud Pole Award in all NASCAR divisions, the title sponsor of the annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, the exclusive beer and malt beverage advertiser of the Daytona 500, and the “Official Beer Sponsor” of Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona 500 and the Pepsi 400. Throughout its history in NASCAR, the iconic Budweiser car has been driven by Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Gillett Evernham Motorsports is a leading team in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series. Founded by CEO Ray Evernham in 1999, the team is in its seventh season of competition at the highest level of NASCAR racing with drivers Kasey Kahne in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger, Scott Riggs in the No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger, and Elliott Sadler in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Gillett Evernham Motorsports also fields the No. 9 Ultimate Chargers Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Busch Series, driven by the three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers, Boris Said and Chase Miller. The team is campaigning Dodge Chargers driven by Erin Crocker in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
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