KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) THREE RACES UNTIL THE CHASE FIELD IS SET, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE POSITION (11TH) THAT YOU'RE IN? "It's been a good season for us and I'm glad that we're in position to still make the Chase...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
THREE RACES UNTIL THE CHASE FIELD IS SET, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE POSITION (11TH) THAT YOU'RE IN? "It's been a good season for us and I'm glad that we're in position to still make the Chase and have a really good shot at it. I think that our team is doing a great job. We had a little problem last week that set us back. I was looking at sixth in points and being able to get there (into the Chase). Now, we're a little further behind. Things have been good this year. Our cars have been good. Our engines have been good. I'm just excited to be in the position that we're in. I have a real legitimate shot at making the Chase and a great shot at running well this weekend. Last year at this race, we led a bunch of laps and ran second. California is a good track for us and so is Richmond. I'm just looking forward to the challenge and seeing how it all works out."
YOU'VE BEEN IN THE COT FOR A YEAR NOW, HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE ON THE COT? "Since last year this time, we've made a ton of progress. I know Gillett Evernham has made a ton of progress and it's a lot more fun to drive now because it (COT) actually drives like a racecar -- so it's fun."
IS THE COT GETTING ANY EASIER TO SET UP AND MAINTAIN THROUGHOUT A RACE? IS IT STILL LIKE BEING ON A KNIFE'S EDGE? "It really is (like being on a knife's edge). Even when your setups are close, you can still get off really easy. We're definitely still working on that and trying to make that not so much of a knife's edge -- when you lose it on a (long) run and have to wait. Last week, I was just waiting for the next pit stop, waiting for 50 laps to try and get (our setup) back. That's just how it is right now. But yeah, the car has come a long ways. The set ups -- the things we're doing to get (the car) to go around the corner -- is definitely much better."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SPECIFIC CHALLENGES OF THIS RACE TRACK? "I think just how tight it is -- how banked and fast -- it's real easy to lose speed here. The passing is difficult at times. The first race this year was a lot tougher than the last race last year. This race last year was really a great race for passing. I thought the track was really open. It's one of those tracks where you have to work on (the car) in practice to get (the car) where you want it because you definitely need it there to run really well tomorrow night. Hopefully, staying out of trouble -- this is a track where you can get in trouble in a hurry by yourself or (around) others. It will be good to have a good car and hopefully stay away from all that (trouble).
WHY DO PEOPLE HIT THE 'PANIC' BUTTON WHEN JEFF GORDON HASN'T WON A RACE RECENTLY? "I don't know for sure, but when you look at Jeff Gordon and look at how much he's won in the past -- to me, if he didn't win last year or this year -- you just look back and see how much he won four years ago, or three, or seven years ago. The guy has been so good in this sport that if he's not winning, what's wrong? Why isn't Jeff Gordon winning? Why is that? I don't know. He'll get there (to winning) obviously. He'll figure it out and win plenty more before he's done."
WITH 20 OR SO LAPS TO GO, WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT HERE AT BRISTOL, TIRES OR TRACK POSITION? "More than likely, you'd want the track position. The tire is different for this race. Until we get some practice in today, it will be tough to tell what we'll be doing during pit stops. But I know at times, you can put on tires if there are 40 laps to go and definitely pass a lot of cars and other times you just stay in your spot. It will be something that we'll have to figure out as the weekend goes."
ARE RACE CAR DRIVER'S ATHLETES? "I don't know. I've played a lot of basketball, a lot of baseball, so I understand what they (other athletes) do to a certain point because of coaches -- they run you and things. So as far as being in that kind of shape, no, we're not. I don't think that you have to be like that. I try to stay in good shape. Carl Edwards is in great shape. Jeff Burton -- there's a lot of people that are in great shape that could go out and play basketball on a pick-up team for sure and have fun. As far as, 'Do you have to?' I don't think you have to be in that kind of shape to race in the sport. I think what you have to have is the focus for four hours without ever losing that focus. There's definitely a lot there that you have when you play sports -- in terms of focus and want and drive -- but in terms of, 'Do I have to run five miles straight to race?' I don't think so."
HOW DO YOU BECOME MORE CONSISTNET HEADING INTO THE CHASE? "I think our consistency has been there. I haven't looked at results in a long time, but I feel like we've been from about seventh to 15th since we've won those races (All-Star and Coca-Cola 600). Maybe not every one, but there are a lot that have been right in that area. So consistency we've had. Last week we had an engine problem -- that's a part of racing -- that's how it goes, there's nothing that you can do about that. I think that our consistency has been good, we haven't been consistent on winning -- running in the top three -- but who has? Other than the 18 (Kyle Busch) I don't think anybody has. Carl (Edwards) is getting up to that point -- Jimmie (Johnson) is getting much better. From seventh to 15th, I think that we've been very consistent. Our team has done a great job. It takes time. Last year at this time, we were 28th in points and didn't have a shot at anything. I think we've come a long ways as team and our consistency from seventh or eighth to 15th has been really good as far as I'm concerned."
-credit: dodge motorsports