Aftermath, Charlotte II: Is Kasey Kahne A Quitter?

Kasey Kahne is looking forward to ending the 2010 season after mechanical troubles have plagued him repeatedly at Richard Petty Motorsports.

We still don't know the true motivation behind Kasey Kahne leaving Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night without finishing the race.

The driver says he was physically ill and vomited. But he also says he was sick with anger about his car and the way he's been treated by Richard Petty Motorsports.

Before hearing Kahne's side of the story, I wondered whether he simply turned his back on his team. If he abandoned them, like Kyle Busch did at Texas a few years ago, I was ready to rip Kahne for being a quitter.

But how can you quit on people if they've already quit on you?

Kahne has had more mechanical failures than any top-level driver should be expected to deal with this season, and it's appeared from an outsiders' view that he's gotten lesser equipment and support than RPM teammates AJ Allmendinger and Paul Menard.

And maybe that's to be expected when someone gives six months' notice that they're leaving for greener pastures. Despite the problems and frustration, though, Kahne has tried to stay above the fray and hasn't thrown RPM under the bus as much as he could have this season.

Then came Saturday night. Kahne experienced yet another brake problem – which he called "a joke" and "a mess" – and was infuriated that no one at RPM seemed to be willing to fix it.

On top of all that, Kahne said someone with the RPM organization told him the driver "needed to start doing his part."

Seriously?

Now imagine for a moment if you're at work, and you depend on your company-issued computer to do your job. One week, the keyboard breaks. The next week, the screen freezes up and you lose the files you've been working on. The next week, the company e-mail goes down.

You're frustrated, pissed, on edge. You're trying to do your job, but your unreliable computer is making it difficult on you. But since you're a professional, you keep pushing through the adversity.

Then, just at the moment where you're about to snap, someone with the company comes up to you and says, "Hey – you really need to start pulling your weight around here."

What?!

I don't know about you, but I would be incensed. If I was already trying as hard as I could through difficult circumstances and someone told accused me of slacking, I'd just about lose my mind.

I might even walk out. And I certainly wouldn't feel like going the extra mile (or driving the extra miles, in Kahne's case) if I was already feeling sick, especially if it had no consequences for my future.

Kahne has done the best job he can this season, even though he's likely faced resentment from those in the RPM organization for choosing to drive for a better team.

Did he fail to take the high road on Saturday night?

It's easy for all of us to sit here now and say, "Well, Kasey is getting paid millions of dollars, so he should have gotten back in the car unless he was truly incapacitated by his illness."

And maybe now that he's had a chance to calm down a bit, Kahne would have handled things another way – even if it would have meant turning the other cheek toward the person who told him to "do his part."

But in order to condemn Kahne for letting another driver finish the race in his car, I'd have to feel like I would have made a different decision than he did.

As it turns out, I can't sit here and say I blame Kahne one bit. Can you?

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