KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) TALK ABOUT COMING BACK TO BRISTOL? "It's a fun track. It's a good track to race at. With the improvements last year made for a more exciting race -- especially in the Busch cars. You could run pretty...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
TALK ABOUT COMING BACK TO BRISTOL? "It's a fun track. It's a good track to race at. With the improvements last year made for a more exciting race -- especially in the Busch cars. You could run pretty much anywhere on the track. The Cup cars weren't as racey as the Busch cars were -- but still pretty good. We led a lot of laps and had two pretty good cars here. I'm looking forward to it -- I always like racing Bristol, it's been good to us."
IS IT A DISADVANTAGE TO RUN BOTH THE CUP AND NATIONWIDE SERIES CARS ON THE SAME WEEKEND? "It's definitely different. They've always different with the engines - that's even a bigger difference now. The cars themselves have felt a bit different, and now it's even more so. But it was like this at times last year. I think the place where it hits you the most where it makes it a little more difficult -- say today when we practice the Nationwide car -- and jump into the Budweiser car and qualify it -- the first lap has to be your best lap. That makes it tough, but we've done it for a while and we've kind of learned it and know the feeling. If I was a rookie and just jumping in one and then the other -- it would be tough. The way it is now, it's a little difficult, but you just have to think hard about it and just realize what you're getting into before you turn those laps. To race them both is just to race. I think the reason most of us do it anymore is just to race. I wouldn't race 10 races for any other reason because I'm not going for any points -- not doing anything other than to race and have a good time."
WHAT'S IT LIKE WITHOUT RAY (EVERNHAM) THERE ON A DAILY BASIS? "I think as far as the people at the shop and the way the shop is run -- it's not a big difference. You may not see him quite as much - they're all busy doing their jobs and they have certain priorities and things that they have to do. So it's not that big of a difference. To me, I'm up there when I get up there. Some weeks not at all -- other weeks two or three times. Whether I see Ray or not, is the same now as it was two or three years ago. To me, he's there -- he still helps me with what I need. I talk to him once a week. I run into him -- whether it's seeing him out or he gives me a call -- we talk every week and try and go over things. I think the shop side is a little bit different for those guys. They all have jobs and priorities and they're working on them so I don't necessarily think it matters a whole lot."
WHAT EFFECT HAS IT HAD ON THE TEAM WITH HIS NEW ROLE? "His impact on me is the same. He calls me and works with me a talks to me and says what I have to work on -- what I'm doing good and what I'm doing bad and how to go about that. That's how it's been since 2004. I think mine and Ray's relationship is really good and is still the same as it's always been."
HOW DIFFERENT IS THE FEELING THIS YEAR VERSUS LAST YEAR? "Going into last weekend's race, we had a lot of momentum and things were really good. Last week it kind of showed that you can miss it very easy still. A lot of teams did. At the end of the race we were a top-15 car but we were too far behind at that point and finished 28th. It's definitely not a hole, it's a great spot to be in. Everybody did a good job and we just have to keep working on where we're at. I feel like to start the season the way we have is as good or better then what we could have really expected coming off of last year. It's been a good start and everybody knows it and doing a good job to keep running good run here, Martinsville, Texas and down the line."
HOW TOUGH IS IT TO PUT A WEEKEND LIKE ATLANTA BEHIND YOU AS A DRIVER? "I had some things that I did this week, so I got over it pretty quick. When you think back to a race, that's the first one you think to and we didn't run that well. As far as going into this race, I feel like were just fine. I feel like we're going and doing great. It's kind of difficult. We ran well the first three and then to have a race like that (Atlanta) - it was all about the sun. We had practice on Saturday - the speeds were up - the track was green and we were decent. We were going faster and as soon as we started to slow up because of the sun, there was zero grip. And the car starts floating more -- it drives completely different -- and everybody is in the same boat, some people worse than others."
WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE GOING THROUGH THE COT LEARNING CURVE? "As far as myself, I've figured how to drive it much better. I think I do a better job with the car. As far as the team, they've done an excellent job figuring what that car likes as compared to where we started. We're still not the best car by any means - but we've figured out a lot about what that car likes and how that makes me feel and how I drive it. Finding certain ways that the car goes and that's where I like to drive it. That's been the most difficult part. We've come along ways and still have a ways to go. I think things are good -- there are certain tracks that we were good right off the bat. Tracks that we tested like here (Bristol) -- last year - we were good for both races. We tested all three tracks that we've raced this year. Atlanta we tested -- but we were on a different tire -- we were really good at the test and to come back on a different tire and we weren't as good. I think it just shows that if we can test everywhere, we're going to be good and we need to figure out to be fast places where we can't because we can't test all the tracks."
YOU'RE THOUGHT ON DALE JARRETT AS A DRIVER AND HIS RETIREMENT? "I was listening to the radio on the way up this morning and it's kind of cool that Ned Jarrett is going to drop the green flag for Dale's last point's race. Same place he started at -- he's had a great career. I've known Dale since 2000, but probably in the last year it's the first year that I really talked to him and have a conversation with him and felt like we're somewhat friends. He's a good guy -- I like him a lot -- the sport is going to miss him."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO HAVE THE FANS SO CLOSE AT BRISTOL? "When you're racing, you really ever look up there (in the stands). It's really cool for driver intros -- as loud as it gets -- whether it's myself (it's pretty decent) or Jeff Gordon gets a variety. He gets 70 percent yells and 30 percent boos -- Dale Jr. gets the most yells -- but not as loud as Gordon's usually. I think it's just a small area with as many or more fans at any other race track. It's all right on top of you -- the stands go straight up and the noise stays in there. You have to put up with a lot of noise for the whole race. Last year winning the Busch race here was really cool. To get out of the car with that many fans surrounding you when you win something here -- it t would be pretty awesome to win a Cup race here as well."
-credit: dodge motorsports