Kasey Kahne to end 6-year run with Hendrick after 2017 season

— -- Kasey Kahne won't return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2018, as the organization will release him a year before his contract ends.

Kahne qualified for the playoffs when he snapped a 102-race winless streak last month in the Brickyard 400, but he sits 19th in the points standings. The team announced Monday that they would end their relationship after six years.

"Kasey has worked extremely hard," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a news release. "He's a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one.

"I've always believed that he's a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can."

The team did not name a replacement Monday as it continues to seek sponsorship for the No. 5 team, which loses primary sponsors Farmers Insurance and Great Clips at the end of the season.

The most likely replacement for Kahne is Hendrick Motorsports development driver William Byron, who has won three Xfinity Series races as a rookie this year for JR Motorsports. If the team lands significant sponsorship, 2003 NASCAR Cup champion Matt Kenseth also could be a possibility.

The 37-year-old Kahne has 18 career Cup wins in 490 career starts. His best finish in the standings was fourth in 2012, his first year at Hendrick Motorsports. He won two races in each of his first two years at Hendrick but has won just two races since the start of 2014. He failed to qualify for the NASCAR playoffs in 2015 and 2016.

"I'd like to thank Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years," Kahne said in the news release. "We won six races together and I'm coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs.

"We still have a lot of racing left in 2017, and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds."