KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
DOES IT MATTER IF YOU GUYS GET ON-TRACK TODAY? "I'd rather qualify here. To me, this is the funnest place to qualify all year. We qualify at night; it's the funnest Friday night of the year. (Qualifying) It was rained out here the first race. It won't be too good (if rain cancels Cup qualifying). If so, then we'll start 14th and just race. This is a great track for us. I look forward to Sunday; we've made a lot of gains since the first race here."
DOES NOT PRACTICING ON FRIDAY LIMIT YOUR CHANCES IN CATCHING THE GUYS IN FRONT OF YOU? "It limits us some. It also gives them the best pit stalls, so that puts you even further behind. It's tough. We keep putting that 48 (Jimmie Johnson) up front and you have a hard time beating it. It's a benefit at a lot of these race tracks."
IF THE 48 WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP, WHERE DOES THAT PUT HIM IN THE HISTORY OF NASCAR? "It's so different because I'm involved in the sport now. I don't look at it like I used to look at it because I'm a part of it and you forget a lot of things. As a competitor, I really don't look at it as that big of a deal. (Looking at it from outside) To win three straight championships may not happen as long as I'm in this sport. It's a huge thing. That team is really good. Jimmie (Johnson) is awesome; they step up every year. I think it's a huge feat. From my personal side, it doesn't seem as big of a deal as it really is."
CAN YOU CLARIFY? "I just meant that I race with him every week and I'm in NASCAR. When I was growing up....when I was 22 year old before I was in NASCAR...you looked at what these guys are doing. Looking at what Dale Sr. (Earnhardt) or Richard Petty, Davy Allison, Jeff Gordon, you're in awe of what's going on in NASCAR. How awesome it is. How awesome those drivers are. Now I'm part of it, so it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal because you're a part of it, right in the middle of it. That's just how I feel. If I was to sit back and look at what Jimmie Johnson has done over the last three years or since he was a rookie, he was good from his first race. He's done a lot. I don't know where it ranks, but it's going to be up there (with some of the all-time greats), especially if he keeps it up."
SO YOU'RE SAYING 'IT'S JUST JIMMIE'? "It's just Jimmie. It's just one of my friends. It's different than being in awe of something.....looking at a sport and thinking, 'Look what that guy is doing' or 'Look at what Tiger Woods is doing in golf.' If I was golfing next to Tiger Woods everyday, it probably wouldn't bet that big of a deal."
HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP TEAMS TOGETHER THESE DAYS? "I think keeping them together and keeping the morale is difficult. Other teams are offering them a job...the grass is always greener on the other side....from the crew chief to a guy who's getting the tires ready.
There are so many different opportunities out there, everybody is trying to steal your pit crew guys...a front-tire changer to a jack man....it's a big deal to keep everyone together. When you're winning races like they (48 team) are, that's a reason to keep everyone together."
DO YOU TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT ALL THE MERGER TALKS THAT ARE GOING ON? DOES IT AFFECT YOU? "I just want to race. I show up to drive. I talk to Kenny Francis (Team Director, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) the most of anybody every single week about how we can get better and to not have issues like we did at Charlotte because this is a similar track. That's about all I do. I've read about it (merger talks) on the computer. I've asked the Gillett's about what's going on. I don't think anybody really knows right now. I just kind of go with what we have, we just need to keep getting our Dodge's as fast as we can."
DOES THE GM/DODGE RUMOR MAKE YOU WONDER WHAT KIND OF CAR YOU'LL BE IN NEXT YEAR? "It all makes you wonder. You read things and always wonder what's going on. You really don't know until it actually happens. I do the best I can. I keep talking to Kenny (Francis). He's the only guy that can make me faster week in and week out. I'll just keep talking to him and our team. Hopefully, we can be the best Dodge here at the end of the year and keep going from there."
ANY THOGUHTS ON A NEW CUP TESTING POLICY: "I think what NASCAR is doing is good. Without making any changes to the car for next year, there's no help there, they have to let us test more. The only way that we can put on better races is to be at these race tracks and test so that we're prepared when we get to them. Everywhere that we've tested, as a team, we've raced better at those race tracks. I think that goes for everyone. Let us test. Let us figure these things out. If NASCAR doesn't' want to help and make the cars better.....more drivable...easier to race side-by-side...getting behind a car, then let us figure them out the best that we can and we'll provide the best racing that we can."
WHAT DO YOU GUYS (GEM) HAVE TO DO TO GET BETTER FOR NEXT YEAR? "I think a lot of the things that we're doing are good. There's still the consistency of not being in the top-10. That takes working with the car and the engine. There's certain tracks that our engines work as good as anybody's and certain tracks that we have to work on our engines and make them as good as everybody's. Those things hold us back."
ON THE KASEY KAHNE FOUNDATION DONATION TO THE RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE TODAY: "It's been exciting for me the last few years since I've been involved in the Ronald McDonald House and the charities. My sister and I started the Kasey Kahne Foundation a little over three years ago. The (Ronald McDonald) house has been a big part of where we put the money from the foundation. We've done some events to raise money for the house to support the charity. I'm excited to be able to give $150,000 from our foundation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities and hope that a lot of kids and families can get helped out by it around the globe. It' a great charity and I'm glad to be apart of it."
-credit: dodge motorsports