Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers set for '11

Updated: October 22, 2010, 11:47 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Red Bull Racing will field only two teams next season with Kasey Kahne in the No. 82 car and Brian Vickers in the No. 83, general manager Jay Frye said on Friday.

Vickers' spot is contingent on his health. He has missed the last two-thirds of this season after being diagnosed with blood clots.

If Vickers is healthy, No. 82 driver Scott Speed will become a free agent. Speed has a performance clause in his contract that relieves Red Bull Racing from financial responsibility past this season if he doesn't finish in the top 16 in points. Speed is 28th in points with five races remaining.

"We're still monitoring Brian's health,'' Frye said. "So far everything looks really good.''

Frye said speculation that the No. 82 car would be changed to the No. 4 for Kahne next season is premature, noting there is an issue with Morgan-McClure, which retains the rights to the number.

Meanwhile, Frye is looking forward to getting a head start on 2011 with Kahne driving the No. 83 for the final five races, beginning this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Kahne was released from Richard Petty Motorsports on Wednesday night, freeing him to move to Red Bull immediately.

Kahne said RPM has met all its financial responsibilities to him, dismissing rumors that the decision to split early made sense for both sides. Red Bull Racing will pay Kahne's salary the rest of the season.

"It made sense for RPM to start working on their things for next year and for myself to get with the Red Bull guys at this point,'' Kahne said. "It's kind of a jump start for next year is what I see it as.''

Kahne said talks about a split began on Monday, two days after the brakes failed on his car for the second time in three races (and third time this season), leaving the driver frustrated.

Kahne defended his decision not to return to the race after repairs were made, saying he was sick and unable to continue. He was offended that an RPM official questioned his commitment, saying he needed to do his part to help the team.

"Anybody that questions my commitment doesn't know me very well,'' Kahne said. "I don't know if there is anybody out there that puts as much into it as I do throughout the week.

"I was sick to my stomach and it was time for me to call it a day. I'm happy I did it and ready to get on with this weekend.''

Kahne said the decision to split was not based on speculation about financial difficulties concerning RPM. He said he wished the team well the rest of the season.

Kahne said he has agreed to maintain his commitments to sponsor Budweiser for the remainder of the season, including all meet and greets. He added this was not the way he wanted to end his relationship with Budweiser or RPM, but reiterated it was best for all parties.

"I feel like I've done what I need to do there,'' Kahne said. "I've told them I'll do whatever I have to the rest of the year [to meet obligations], but that's not what this is all about. It's about me moving on and getting ready for next year. It's about them moving on and getting ready for next year.''

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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