Kasey Kahne explains his current health situation following Darlington Raceway
Kasey Kahne: “At Darlington, about a hundred 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. I basically just kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners.”
On Thursday night, Kasey Kahne announced that he had pulled himself from the car ahead of this weekend’s event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Regan Smith will pilot the #95 for Leavine Family Racing this weekend.
The Brickyard 400 is a race that the driver won just a year ago. However, he was so beat up after winning that race that he could hardly celebrate. Kahne sat by his car in victory lane while giving interviews.
A year has gone by, things have gotten worse. Following a more in depth explanation, the driver has absolutely made the right call to step out of the seat.
Kahne engaged in a conference call on Friday to give more details on his situation. The NASCAR driver is currently seeking medical answers and has pulled himself from the car while that takes place.
Kasey Kahne comments on his situation at Darlington Raceway
First, Kasey Kahne gave a walkthrough the events that transpired at Darlington Raceway on Sunday night:
“Basically since last year, you know, since last year, the start of this year, each race I get a little bit worse by the end of the race with my hydration. It just got to where at Darlington I had been to the care center a few times.”
“Darlington I had to go to the care center again. It’s been the worse that it’s been this time. It’s kind of lingered all week, stuck with me. I just need to figure out how to make it better.”
“I’ve been working hard on it. One thing I did going into Darlington was I was very hydrated the four days leading up to the race, ate very clean, very good foods for hydration.”
“I knew it was going to be a really hard race on me because I just understand between the heat and the dew point degrees, if either one of them is high, I really struggle any more. So I was super hydrated. I was in really good condition going into the race. Had a great practice on Friday.”
“About halfway through the race, I started getting to the point where I couldn’t drink any more. Once I can’t drink any more, I’ve already lost a lot more at that point in time fluids than what I was able to put in.”
“That’s why I can’t drink any more, it will start coming back out. I keep drinking the most that I can throughout the rest of the race, but it just gets super hard. My body keeps sweating so much that I have, like, absolutely nothing left by the end of the race.”
“At Darlington, about a hundred 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. I basically just kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners.”
“I had to just control the car just to try to do as little as possible so my heart rate would go down because it was so high. At that point all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health, not on what I should be actually focusing on and that’s racing.”
“After the race, I went to the care center. I threw up all the way there. A lot of fans seen it. Threw up in the care center. They got IVs going in both arms. At that point I got to where I wasn’t sick any more. Sick all the way on the drive home.”
“It’s just been a rough week. That’s where I’m at today. Not racing Indy. Really tough decision. I would much rather be there than not. At this point I have to just figure out how to finish these races, how to be able to go that long in a hot car in the environment that we’re in, between the air temp and the dew point degrees, just to control it all.”
“It’s been really tough. It’s getting worse as the season has been going. Just been struggling with it. Have to figure it out before I get in there again and do it.”
NASCAR drivers are in shape, all of them. Long gone are the days where NASCAR drivers climb into the seat unfit.
“I work out three, four days a week. I run, I bike, I lift, I do interval work, whatever it may be. I feel great doing all that stuff. I’m in really good shape. That’s not the issue at all. 30 minutes to an hour workouts and I’m fine. Just like in the Cup race I’m fine for the first hour, two hours probably. Then it starting going downhill from there.”
What tests have you done?
“We just did blood work. The doctor had a few different tests that we did this week. So we’re just going through that stuff, trying to find a way to, you know, be able to put together a whole race and not hurt my body internally by the end of each race when they’re this hot right now.”
“I think it depends on everybody. I’ve been basically the same size, the same person for 15, 16 years in NASCAR. I didn’t start having problems until the last year, two years. I don’t really know why that is.”
“We’re still trying to figure that out. That’s why I’m not racing this weekend, because I don’t want to create any more damage to myself, to my body, until I understand it better.”
“Just taking it one race at a time. My whole reason for doing this is because I know that Indy is a tough one, the dew point is always up there. I just know that I’ll be in that same situation there.”
“For the full race, I’d be in the same situation. I can’t go through it again, so I’ve had to not go there, you know, learn more by the next one, decide from there.”
“The reason I pretty much barely drove the end of the race was because my heart rate was pumping so fast, I was having a hard time breathing and keeping up with it. I get done with the race, laying on pit wall. After basically not trying for an hour, the doctor still can’t get my pulse because it’s pumping so fast. I just can’t control it. I need to figure out how to control it.”
Why can’t you drink anything past a certain point? Is it because you’re so nauseated that you can’t keep it down?
“Yeah, that’s accurate. Basically by the time I left for the care center, got to the care center, I had nothing in me. I had no fluids. I’d thrown up everything that I had either drank or eaten that day. I’d sweated everything out that was in my system. I just basically had nothing left at all until they got the IVs in both arms.”
“From that point, I’m just so cramped up because my chest and neck and my arms are so cramped during that time, during the end of that race. I’m so cramped up, they’re trying to hold me. Actually a complete mess, so yeah.”
“Yes, I feel like it’s slowly, you know, progressing, slowly getting worse. Darlington was definitely the worst I’ve ever had it. Kentucky this year was rough. Indy last year was rough. Bristol this year was pretty rough. There was others, as well. Darlington is definitely the worst that it’s been to this point.”
Did this play a role in your retirement decision?
“I mean, it’s been on my mind, for sure. Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely part of that decision, for sure.”
Does this happen in sprint cars?
“I think the open air helps a lot. I also think just 30-, 40-lap races, you’re talking to 20- to 40-minute races, just a completely different situation between the open cockpit and the shorter races.”
“I haven’t had issues at all there. That’s kind of to me more like a four-, five-mile run, 15-mile bike. I feel great when I do that stuff. I always have. I still do.”
“It just seemed like it’s more like the heat, that heat for three to four hours straight inside the car without all the air coming through, coming past you, whatnot, to keep you cooled down.”
What is the medical treatment going forward? Do you have appointments scheduled?
“That was kind of this week, I had some this week to try to learn more about what’s going on, if it can actually hurt me longer term or anything like that, the effects and stuff. So we’re still waiting on some of those answers which will be early next week. So that’s basically where I’m at right now. I met with three different doctors this week. We’ll learn more early next week.”
Has NASCAR reached out or tried to help you with this?
“This week, basically Monday, they got on the phone with my team right away trying to figure it out because they hadn’t seen anything quite like that before. They were part of working with Lisa and our group here to come up with a plan, come up with doctors to visit, just try to get a better handle on the situation.”