Kasey Kahne: 'It was really hard to keep my eyes open' during last 100 laps at Darlington

Kasey Kahne is set to miss Sunday’s race after dealing with heat exhaustion at Darlington on Sunday. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Kasey Kahne said doctors are running tests to figure out why he’s been getting so weak from dehydration and overheating in the final stages of Cup Series races.

Kahne will miss Sunday’s race at Indianapolis. He went to the infield care center following last weekend’s race at Darlington and said fans saw him vomit from the dehydration as he was being taken to the care center. He had to receive IVs and was cramping while in the care center.

“About halfway through the race, I started getting to the point where I couldn’t drink anymore,” Kahne said. “Once I can’t drink anymore, I’ve already lost a lot more at that point in time fluids than what I was able to put in. That’s why I can’t drink anymore, it will start coming back out. I keep drinking the most that I can throughout the rest of the race, but it just gets super hard. My body keeps sweating so much that I have, like, absolutely nothing left by the end of the race.”

“At Darlington, about a hundred 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.”

I didn’t start having problems until the last year, two years’

Kahne, a slender guy compared to his Cup Series peers and an especially slight man compared to the rest of the population, has stayed relatively the same size throughout his Cup Series career and said he hasn’t had these type of heat-related issues until recently. He was visibly wiped out after winning the Brickyard 400 in 2017.

He was asked Friday if starting the race and then getting out of the car would have been an option. He admitted it would have been but also said he wanted to err on the side of pragmatism.

“That would be I guess a way to do it,” Kahne said. “I just feel like to not even mess with it at this point in time, figure it out. It’s not that easy to get out of the car. Last week with a hundred to go, I definitely shouldn’t have been in the racecar anymore. I stayed out there, put my body through it, my brain, my head. It was really difficult.

“I think it’s just better off for me to stay home and figure out how to help the situation before I get back in the car.”

Mid-week workouts are no problem

Kahne loves to work out and hasn’t had any of the issues while staying physically fit during the week. The preparation undoubtedly helps his performance in the car as well. But there comes a point where he starts to have the problems.

I’m fine for 50 minutes, an hour and a half, two hours,” Kahne said. “Once you get past that point in time, you can’t catch up.  You’ve been losing throughout all that.  Then I quit drinking as much always because I start trying to throw up.  You’re not putting anything in, and you’re losing even more.  Just gets so far behind that, you know, your heart is trying to help cool you off, hydrate you, but there’s nothing else to use.”

No timetable has been determined for Kahne’s return and will likely depend on what doctors find out. The next Cup Series race is at Las Vegas on Sept. 16. Kahne announced earlier this season that 2018 would be his final season as a full-time driver in NASCAR.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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