Tuesday, Feb. 17,2004. Dodge Teleconference KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) DISCUSS YOUR ROCKINGHAM TEST "We just did a one-day test. The new tires were definitely different than the old tires. They still fall off just as ...
Tuesday, Feb. 17,2004.
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
DISCUSS YOUR ROCKINGHAM TEST
"We just did a one-day test. The new tires were definitely different than the old tires. They still fall off just as quick, but they start out different. I think it was good to go down there and test and get a baseline for when we go back on what the tires are going to do. I was real happy with the test, with the way the car handled, and we got to try a lot of different things on it. I'm looking forward to this weekend."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ROCKINGHAM TRACK?
"I've always really liked that track a lot. Sixteenth is my best Busch finish, but we've run a lot better than that there. We ran top five last year the whole race and had a battery go out late in the race and ended up 29th or something. We've always been fast there, just never had the great finishes. Going there with the Busch car and the Cup car this week hopefully we'll have two real good runs."
DOES RACING IN CUP AND BUSCH KEEP YOU BUSY?
"We'll be real busy. Last week was about as bad as I could do in both divisions. I ran 43rd and 41st, being in that first wreck in the Busch race and having the bottom part of the engine fail on the Dodge Dealers car. It wasn't a real good start to the season, but we're really looking forward to Rockingham. We should run a lot better there."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM DAYTONA?
"I learned it's a hectic schedule running back and forth to each car. I talked to Kevin Harvick about it a little bit more, and he said it would wear you out as the year goes on. I definitely learned that. I learned that racing is all about good luck and bad luck. You get both of them. So far we haven't had the good luck, but we're definitely looking forward to getting some this week at Rockingham."
ARE YOU GOING TO PACE YOURSELF?
"We laughed about it a little bit. He (Harvick) said there was a race in St. Louis and he won and could barely get out of the car. He was so worn out late in the year and it was hot. I just got done working out this morning. I've been trying to get ready for this stuff the past couple of months, and I think I'm ready for it. I'm excited to do both. Mentally, it's going to be all about the performance. If we're performing, mentally it's going to be great. If we have things go wrong or I get in a wreck or different stuff, it'll be tough. We'll have to be on top of our game, and I'll have to be focused all the time and make sure we don't have those mistakes and finish some races."
WILL ROCKINGHAM BE LIKE RESTARTING YOUR SEASON?
"We had a great week going in both cars (at Daytona). I thought we were going to have some really good runs and then all that stuff started happening and it ruined our weekend, but looking back, at the time I was upset. I got home and things started getting better, and then I watched the Busch race. Dale Jr. won three that weekend, and we're sitting in the pits and 50 laps is all we made. It started irritating me a little more. It's just the breaks of the race. That's part of it. I'll get over it. I've gotten over it already and look forward to Rockingham and hopefully none of that stuff will happen again and we can finish all 700 or 800 laps that we want to run."
ANY TRACKS COMING UP THAT YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?
"I'm looking forward to the next four. We've got Rockingham, Vegas, Atlanta and Darlington which are all some of my favorite racetracks. I'm looking forward to the next four races. After that we go to Bristol, and we've run good and we've run bad there. That'll be when the season starts getting tougher. I think the next four races are definitely some of my favorite tracks."
DOES IT GIVE YOU MORE CONFIDENCE KNOWING THE NO. 9 DODGE WON THE LAST RACE AT ROCKINGHAM?
"It definitely does. When we went down there and tested they still had a good package and Tommy Baldwin (crew chief) changed it up a little bit and it was even better. I think we can run strong this weekend and give the Dodge Dealers/UAW team its best finish of the season by far."
HOW IMPORTANT WILL IT BE FOR YOU TO PUT THE BAD BREAKS BEHIND YOU?
"I need to forget about it and not let it happen again. I need to just forget about it and go on. I was a little upset last night watching some of that stuff again, but I'm feeling better today. I'm fine. The team's fine. We just need to have a good run and hopefully we'll get it this weekend in both cars."
DID THE ENGINE PROBLEM IN THE CUP RACE CATCH YOU OFF GUARD?
"I was coming off turn four and they told me the engine changed. I was hoping it wasn't my car because we were in a pack. I knew it was, but I was just trying to play if off. By the time we got to turn one I was losing ground and had to kick it out of gear and shut it off down the backstretch. It was too bad, but that happens. We've just got to make it happen as little as possible and keep accumulating points all year."
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACING AT DAYTONA?
"Looking from the outside, the last half of the race (Daytona 500) looked pretty boring. Those guys were all riding in line. There was nothing they could do. It was a three or four-car draft at Daytona and the other cars couldn't catch up. It was a lot about handling. I didn't think it was much of a race, the last half of the Daytona 500.
"The Busch race was awesome. If was so close that if someone made a little mistake you were going to have a big wreck That was what happened on lap 12. Other than that, the best kind of race for a superspeedway was probably the way the Busch race was set up. If somebody screws up then a lot of other people pay for someone else's mistakes and that's what stinks."
THERE WERE A LOT OF CLOSE CALLS THAT WERE AVOIDED IN THE BUSCH RACE. WAS IT JUST LUCK?
"I saw a few, and it looked like a few times for some reason they didn't crash, and that's got a little to do with luck. Another time, Robby Gordon was sideways down the frontstretch and he saved it. That's just an awesome job of driving. That happened to a few different people. There was some good driving by some of the Cup guys and some of the Busch guys and there was also not some good driving by some of the guys, too."
WILL YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO PREPARE FOR ROCKINGHAM?
"I'm on my way to the race shop right now. I was there yesterday and again today. We'll be excited when we get there and we'll be ready to race."
WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING ONE OF THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK?
"It's been fine so far. Those guys have been really cool about everything. With five other rookies out there, it's been fun doing the things we do for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. It's been cool. Everybody has been good about it so far. It's definitely been fun moving up to the Nextel Cup level."
WILL THE VETERANS HELP YOU OUT?
"If you go ask them they'll help you out. It's nice to help Bill Elliott in my corner. He'll help me out any time I need something. You know you'll get a truthful answer. Some of those other guys you might not get quite as much as you're looking for, but with Bill you get everything you want."
WHAT DID RAY EVERNHAM AND BILL ELLIOTT TELL YOU AFTER DAYTONA 500 TO HELP OUT WITH YOUR FRUSTRATIONS?
"I never saw Bill after the race. I went out to my motorcoach and watched it from there. I saw Ray at the airport when we were leaving. He wasn't very happy with the way the cars ran for sure. That was the biggest thing, he wasn't happy, either. There will be a lot of work going on before we go back to Talladega for the next superspeedway race."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE FUN AND STILL RACE IN BOTH DIVISIONS?
"I think it is. I think it'll be tough at times, and I'm going to be a little irritated when some of the stuff is going on, but I'm going to try to make the best out of it. One good run can change it for a month. You can run bad for a month and have one good race, a top five or a top 10 or win and you can feel like everything has been perfect the past year. We've just got to keep our heads on straight and have some good finishes and I think the spirits will stay up and we'll have a good time doing it."
DID FUN COME INTO THE CONVERSATION WHEN YOU TALKED TO KEVIN HARVICK ABOUT RUNNING BOTH SERIES?
"No, it never really came into the conversation. We talked about it, and he was kinda laughing about some of the stuff that goes on. I think he probably enjoyed it, too. He obviously did because he still runs Busch pretty often. I think Harvick definitely enjoyed it, and I'm going to try to enjoy it, too."
IS USAC TOTALLY OUT OF THE PICTURE FOR YOU NOW?
"I would like to have some dirt flying around some of the time. My sprint car team is getting ready to do some more racing down the road, and we're building a Silver Crown team. We'll have some cars to race if I'm interested or if I ever get some spare time. Hopefully doing the middle part of the season we'll be running good on the Cup and Busch sides and we'll have time to go out and run some sprint cars."
WHAT'S THE SCHEDULE LIKE THE REST OF THE WEEK BEFORE ROCKINGHAM?
"We've got meetings today, and I've got a meeting at the Busch shop later this afternoon. I'll be working out every morning with my trainer and that's about it. I've got some interviews, but it's more laid back than last week that's for sure."
ARE YOU READY TO RACE?
"I want to race. I want to finish a race. I want to break a sweat. I haven't been able to break a sweat yet this year other than in the 125."