Kahne kicks off 2011 season in Daytona

After years as the Budweiser No. 9, Kasey Kahne fans will have to get use to looking for the Enumclaw NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota.

The No. 4, Kahne’s sprint car number, was borrowed for this season, while he waits to join the Hendrick Motorsports Team. During the one-year stint with Red Bull Racing, Kahne will be teaming with Brian Vickers in the No. 83. Kahne and Vickers went head-to-head in 2004 for Rookie of the Year honors.

The Rookie of the Year honor Kahne picked up will land him a spot in Saturday’s non-points race Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, where he will be joined by a lineup that features former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, last year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, past Budweiser Shootout champions, past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola champions and other top rookies from past seasons.

The annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona with the green flag set for 8:10 p.m. Saturday. FOX will broadcast the event live. It marks the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on the track’s repaved surface.

The race distance will again be 75 laps, consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments.

Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party Friday.

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