Kahne made 20 starts in the Nationwide Series driving the No. 98 Channellock Ford Taurus for Robert Yates Racing. His best finish was a tenth-place finish at Cabela's 250. In 2003, he moved to the No. 38 Great Clips Ford for Akins Motorsports. He won his first pole at Michigan International Speedway and his first Nationwide race at the Ford 300. In 2004, he also made a pair of starts in the Craftsman Truck Series at Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, driving the No.
The Ram pickup (formerly the Dodge Ram pickup) is a full-size pickup truck manufactured by FCA US LLC (formerly Chrysler Group LLC). As of 2010, it has been sold under the Ram Trucks brand. Previously, Ram was part of the Dodge lineup of light trucks.
The name Ram was first used in 1981 on the redesigned Ram and Power Ram following the retiring and rebadging of the Dodge D Series pickup trucks as well as B-series vans. The truck is named for the Ram hood ornament that first appeared on Dodge vehicles in 1933. The Ram Truck is in its fourth generation as of the 2009 model year.
Kahne replaced Bill Elliott in the No. 9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports at the end of the 2003 season when Elliott announced a part-time schedule starting with the 2004 season. Since Kahne was still under contract with Ford, the manufacturer filed a lawsuit against him to try to prevent the move. Ford eventually got money from Kahne, allowing him to go to Dodge.
In 2004, Kahne surprised many by nearly winning several races (including five 2nd-place finishes and 13 top 5's), winning 4 poles and captured the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award. He narrowly missed the Chase for the Nextel Cup after Jeremy Mayfield, his teammate, claimed the final spot. He drove 30 races for Akins in the Busch Series, finishing 13th in points.