Kasey Kahne opens up about severe dehydration, heat exhaustion issues

Veteran NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne – who recently announced the 2018 Cup Series season will be his last – is not competing in the final regular season race, Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The No. 95 Chevrolet driver is still suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion following last weekend’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and he shed light on his health issues Friday during a teleconference.

He said that he often gets to a point where he can’t drink more water during a race because his body reaches its limits, and he’ll vomit it back up. He explained:

“At Darlington, about a hundred (laps) 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.”

He said he saw signs of dehydration last year, but his symptoms have been more consistent in 2018. He knew the Darlington race would be challenging for him and tried to hydrate properly, but he’s still not feeling well and doesn’t want to do more damage to his body by racing Sunday – even though he’s the defending winner at NASCAR’s lone Brickyard race.

Regan Smith will drive the 95 car instead.

Kahne – who’s also one of the many drivers who frequently cycle and run – said he’s been struggling with hydration issues throughout the whole season, and it’s getting worse. He said it contributed to his decision to retire.

Doctors did tests on him this week to try and get some answers, but he said it’s just not worth getting back in the car this weekend when he’s not feeling well. He continued:

“But I just can’t control the temperature of my body and my heart rate. Once it gets to that point, there’s nothing I can do till I get out of the car. 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.”

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