CONCORD, N.C. – For 10 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series races two names have appeared on the Wicked Energy Gum No. 9 car – Kahne on the body and McFadden on the wing.
That could change after the Jackson Nationals this week. Or remain unchanged until August.
Kasey Kahne said he’ll find out Thursday if he’s cleared to return to sprint car racing, after an accident at Williams Grove in March forced him to step out of the car.
If he is cleared, the 41st annual AGCO Jackson Nationals at Jackson Motorplex – Thursday, June 27, to Saturday, June 29 – could be his fill in James McFadden’s last ride in the No. 9 car. If not, Kahne said McFadden will be in the car through the Knoxville Nationals before heading home to Australia.
“It’s all dependent on Kasey. I don’t have a plane ticket, yet,” McFadden said.
Since stepping in the car for Kahne at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, the two-time World Series Sprint Car champion has entertained fans and impressed his car owner with the ambitious runs he’s put together in his 10 starts, so far.
“He drives really hard, but really under control,” Kahne said. “He takes care of the engine and the car and all of that stuff. So, it’s been a lot of fun working with him and watching him go. We haven’t won yet, but he’s been capable at more than one race. We just have to keep working at it.”
His first two races with the Kasey Kahne Racing team resulted in a top-10 and a runner-up finish. Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway was a struggle, getting involved in accidents he didn’t cause both nights of the event. But McFadden rebounded the next two nights, putting on an epic duel with Kyle Larson and teammate Brad Sweet for the lead at Fairbury Speedway, before spinning late in the race due to a lap car, and then securing another runner-up finish at River Cities Speedway.
Another strong top-10 run came at Granite City Speedway. Knoxville Raceway was a challenge finishing 16th and 13th, respectively. And he was en route to a hard charging run into the top-five at Beaver Dam Raceway before an accident took him out of the race.
“I think there’s still a bit of work to do, but pretty excited with the speed we’ve had,” McFadden said. “Looking forward to more.”
He’s excited to get the 4/10-mile Jackson Motorplex. It’ll be his first time at the speedway, but his record on 4/10-mile speedways this year is a top-10 and runner-up finish.
“It’s another track I get to tick off the list,” he said. “From all accounts it’s pretty cool watching the videos on DIRTVision. Excited to tick another one off the list and hopefully we can get the 9 car to victory lane.”
While McFadden has raced with the World of Outlaws in years prior – which includes one Series win at Williams Grove Speedway – there are some tracks on his schedule with KKR he’s never been to. That’s a challenge he’s enjoyed, he said, along with the intensity of racing with the World of Outlaws.
“You know, racing with these guys, they’re the best,” McFadden said. “If you win a race or finish top-three or five, you have to be on your game from Hot Laps.
“To not make this sound bad, you can get a little complacent when you’re racing home all of the time. You know, you race the same people. You know what everyone is going to do and how it’s going to happen. Racing with these guys for the first time in 40 races for me, you’ve got to learn them as quick as you can. And that’s kind of the funnest part.”
It’s experience he hopes to utilize back home. Since joining the team, McFadden said Sweet – who is the current points leader and has the most wins this season, so far – has been good with helping him out and the entire KKR team has been open with sharing car set ups and knowledge. In return, he said he can help with their motors, being a motor builder himself.
Although, he acknowledged the team has a decent handle on their motor program already.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve brought anything,” McFadden said. “Just a different opinion. There’s no right or wrong way to do things in this sport. Sometimes a different opinion can help. Sometimes it doesn’t. Their stuff is pretty dialed as it is.”
McFadden has been grateful for his opportunity to drive for Kahne and hopes to get a win with KKR before it’s over. His last opportunity could be during the three-day Jackson Nationals event, with $41,000-to-win on the line Saturday. Or possibly later.
For now, he’s holding off on that ride to the airport.