KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Fresh off a fifth-place finish at Atlanta, Kahne heads into the fifth race of the season ranked 28th in the series standings. The 24-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., will celebrate...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Fresh off a fifth-place finish at Atlanta, Kahne heads into the fifth race of the season ranked 28th in the series standings. The 24-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., will celebrate his 25th birthday on April 10. In two starts at Bristol last season, Kahne qualified second and fifth.
COMMENT ON RACING AT BRISTOL "Last year I think we had a run here of 170 laps or something. It was just outrageous. I've never run close to that. It was a long time going through leading laps, going to the rear, but a lot of stuff can happen during that time and a lot of stuff can happen. It's hard on you. It's hard on your car. It's hard on everything. It was pretty cool until the handling went out."
COMMENT ON QUALIFYING AT BRISTOL "Qualifying is big here to start up front and try to stay out of that lapped traffic early in the race, but once you get into the race you get right back in traffic in 15 laps or so and from there on the cars are pretty much all over the racetrack. It doesn't really matter where you're at. You just want to have good track position."
COMMENT ON PATIENCE VS. AGGRESSION AT BRISTOL "I think it's something you really need to learn, and guys up front here do it every single time we come here. You have to be aggressive to be up toward the front, but at the same time the guys that run up toward the front don't have their cars torn up, either. There are times when you do and times when you don't have to be aggressive. I've just got to figure that out. You want to put pressure on, but at the same time if there's a car behind you you've got to be careful. That guy can put pressure on you trying to get under you at the wrong spot and crash one or two cars trying to do that. You have to give and take a lot at this racetrack, but at the same time you have to be aggressive. It's pretty much different than everywhere else we go it seems to me. I've raced here a lot in a Busch car and a couple of times in a Cup car. Every time it seems like something new presents itself. It just takes time to figure out how to finish 500 laps here."
COMMENT ON GOING BACK TO TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY "Last year we had a great race there. We tested there (last week) and learned a lot of things. We didn't necessarily go faster than we needed to, but we learned things that did help. Hopefully the guys can put some more things together before we go back to race and we'll have a shot to win this year. Texas is a race we should have won, and Elliott Sadler ended up winning. We didn't get it done. That's probably the race I look back at as the biggest race we should have won last year. We think about it and hopefully we can get another opportunity to be in a position to win again. That's why we tested out there, to try to get in position to run up front for the whole race and be in a position to win in the end. Other than that you can't look back on it too much. I wish we could have won that race, but we didn't. Now we've just got to try to win it when we go back."
COMMENT ON MARTINSVILLE AND BACK-TO-BACK SHORT TRACK RACES "We're definitely looking forward to Martinsville. I learned a lot in the second race there last year. We changed the car around some, and I think we ran in the top 10 most of the day. That's something to look forward to. The aero package and the body won't be as critical there. It would feel great to win at Martinsville. It seems like that would be one of the most difficult tracks to win at, between there and Bristol.
"These are the tracks it seems like people get other people back. Right now I don't know who's mad at who. I haven't thought about it. I don't think anybody is (mad at me) in Cup. These are both tracks you see that at. It doesn't tear up the cars quite as bad, but I don't know if you want to crash anybody anywhere. You maybe just talk about it after the race and solve the problem."
WHY ARE SOME TOP TEAMS STRUGGLING THIS SEASON? "I think it goes back to the tires and spoiler. For the Dodges, the new Charger body. Everybody had different ideas coming into the year, what they tested, what they did in the wind tunnel and how they wanted their noses compared to the rear end with the spoiler. Then you get around a bunch of traffic and it completely changes your car. I think a lot of teams are working on things and the two teams that were the best at the end of last year are still the best this year. There are a lot of teams out here trying to catch up to the 48 and 97."
WHY DIDN'T YOU TEST HERE? "I don't know why none of us tested here. We've been at other tracks trying to figure out the tires and the spoiler, the tracks we've been struggling at. I think the biggest thing right now is we need to get better on the mile and a half and two-mile tracks. We qualified really good in both races here last year. We didn't race that good in either one of them, but we definitely qualified good. It's something to work on. We've got two hours today to try to make the car as comfortable as possible and run all 500 laps.
"I need practice here for sure. It's a great racetrack, but you always need practice when you come to Bristol. I've tried to really watch and think about the things Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon do here. They finish these races with their cars in one piece. I've been thinking about that and reviewing tape on them throughout the race and do something similar to that. Those guys always seem to get it done here."
HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM LOSING YOUR TEMPER ON THE SHORT TRACKS? "A lot of people are angry at the end of these races, but during the race you've got to think about what you're here for, the big picture, the entire season. You don't want to try to make anybody mad early in the race and have a shot at getting taken out later in the race. I think of it more of a normal race, but it's just a little more beating and banging."
DOES IT HURT NOT HAVING PRACTICE ON SATURDAY? "It hurts a little bit, but also we won't practice any qualifying stuff today. We'll just practice race stuff. Maybe we lose half an hour of race practice at impound races. I've found we've been making a lot of adjustments at all the races. That's probably the same with a lot of people. It's just tough right now. The aero balance is different with the new rules. I think a lot of changes are going along whether it's an impound race or a normal three-day qualifying race. I think we'll get more used to the cars and spoilers and new noses. That's what will make for fewer changes."
HAVE YOU PUT LAST YEAR'S INCIDENT AT BRISTOL BEHIND YOU? "You've got to try to put some of that stuff behind you. McMurray apologized, and I could have probably avoided the wreck also. You've just got to go on. This is a new Bristol this year and hopefully we'll be in position to be up front again. You always try to watch and learn from the guys that race well every time they come here. You try to be ready for anything that can happen and know the things some of these other guys do to finish on the lead lap. These cars change. The tracks change. We're hoping this is a car that's good enough to run in the top 10 all day on Sunday."