KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) WHAT AREAS ARE YOU LOOKING TO IMPROVE THIS YEAR? "Be more consistent, not just for good finishes, but on the bad days when we miss the setup. On the bad days, we need to finish in the top 25s; last...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
WHAT AREAS ARE YOU LOOKING TO IMPROVE THIS YEAR? "Be more consistent, not just for good finishes, but on the bad days when we miss the setup. On the bad days, we need to finish in the top 25s; last year we were in the 35s and 40s. We can't have days like that. We need to keep working on consistency. Obviously, we want to win races. Last year, we won three. Hopefully, we can do at least that this year in the Budweiser Dodge."
DID YOU GET IN ENOUGH TESTING AT NON-NASCAR TRACKS THAT YOU FEEL READY FOR THE NEW SEASON? "I think we did. As a team, we went to the right places and we did the right things. The team was comfortable working together, making changes quickly. The tough part is we tested at tracks we don't race at, but we learned some things and feel pretty good going into California and Vegas."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN YOUR TIME AT PENSKE RACING? "I feel like we've done well at bringing a program back together after Rusty Wallace left. There were a lot of changes, a lot of revamping to start off 2006. For me, it was great to win right away, at Bristol in'06. Then we struggled, but rebounded with a great year in 2007, making the Chase, winning twice and having a shot at the championship. Then we were introduced to the COT. Hands down, we struggled with the new car. It's up to us to figure it out internally, how to make our Dodge better."
WHAT IS THE PROGRESS OF THE DODGE R6 ENGINE? "We have good positive feedback after getting the engine out in the races at the end of the season. We have planned all along to run the old engine here at Daytona."
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO STRENGTHEN THE TEAM? "That's what we really based our decisions on this off season. We've added a few different crew members to our team and moved some of our guys over to the 12 or 77. The objective was to get the three teams to communication better first and foremost which is working. Secondly, we've added 30 years of experience by adding a couple of crew guys to our team during the off season. In my mind, if everybody has the same piece, it's up to the experienced guys to make a difference whether you're going through tech or making decisions about how to set up the car."
REED SORENSON (No. 43 McDonald's Dodge Charger)
HOW IS THE COMMUNICATION GOING WITH NEW CREW CHIEF MIKE SHIPLETT? "We spent a lot of time together in January on the track and off, just getting to know each other. It's a disadvantage that we didn't have the opportunity to test more with the McDonald's Dodge."
YOU'RE FIRST OFFICIAL RIDE IN THE NO. 43 BRINGS BOTH PRESSURE AND EXCITEMENT? "I hope its fast; it will be a thrill then. I guess its pressure. The pressure is already there. Just having that number on the car, there's a different group of fans watching you. That's their number, fans of the King, the Petty's fans. It's going to be cool. Some of the numbers out there don't really mean anything to anybody; 43 is one that means a lot to everybody involved in NASCAR."
DAVID STREMME (No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger)
BEING OUT OF SPRINT CUP COMPETITON FOR A YEAR, ARE YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE WITH THE CHANGE IN THE NASCAR TESTING POLICY? "We got to test throughout the summer for Roger (Penske - Penske Racing) and got to do the Vegas tire test. Then, Dodge allowed us to do a tire test at the Arizona Proving Grounds which I think was very valuable for Daytona and Talladega. I don't think we're behind the eight ball at all. We've been able to utilize all the tools available to us, so I feel good going into the 2009 season."
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM WILL BE STRONGEST? "At the restrictor plate tracks and at the intermediate tracks, I don't see why we can't run strong everywhere. The road courses, I know I need help on, but Kurt (Busch) is a really good road racer along with Sam (Hornish, Jr.), so I'm going to lean on them very hard. I feel good with the people that Roger and everyone have put around me. We'll utilize the information we have and put up good results."
HOW HAS THE YEAR OUT OF THE SPRINT CUP SERIES HELPED YOU? "I'm back stronger mentally, even physically. I have a lot to show still. They're going to allow me to do it here at Penske. We've got really good stuff that's going on. I'm excited. I feel like this could be a standout year for me."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500? "I'm very excited! I'm excited about driving for Richard Petty who has seven Daytona 500 wins and a lot of great memories here. I think I've finished in the top 11 in the last five Daytona 500s in a row. To come in here for Stanley's (Stanley Tools) first Daytona 500, we've got a lot of cool things going on. We just have to go out there and perform and do what we know we can do here at Daytona. I love this race track, love this race. There's a lot of emphasis put on it. I finished second here a few years ago; I want to better that one position. We need that right now as a team and as a person. I can't think of a better track to put our best foot forward than right here at Daytona. ARE YOU READY TO BE THE LEADER AT RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS? "I definitely think I'm ready to be the leader. I've worked well with Kasey in the past and have a good relationship with Reed. I look forward to that opportunity."
AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 44 Valvoline Dodge Charger)
WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE BUD SHOOTOUT? "Obviously, as a racer, you want to win. That's important. Ultimately, I need practice on superspeedway racing. I haven't done a lot of it. That's the way I'm taking the Shootout. If I have a chance to win, we'll try to win the thing. If not, I want to run all the laps and get as much practice as I can in the Valvoline Dodge."
HAS THE CONTRACT BEEN SIGNED? "I think so. I think that's actually been signed in between all the stuff, so I actually do have a contract for the first eight races, through Phoenix and there's an option for 2010. Ultimately, the objective is to run up front and stay up front all eight races. Hopefully, we can find more backing and run the whole season. The goal is to run up front and find a sponsorship for the rest of the season."
HOW TOUGH HAS THE OFF-SEASON BEEN? "You can sit there and feel bad for yourself about how bad things are happening to you, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. There are a lot of people right now in this world that are a lot worse than myself worrying about running only eight races in Cup. I'm still at Daytona. We're still talking about racing cars. I'm still getting in the racecar. There are two options. You keep fighting and find a ride or sponsorship or you quit. I'm not going to quit. So, you have to keep digging."
SAM HORNISH, JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)
YOU HAD A GOOD START AT DAYTONA LAST YEAR; DO YOU EXPECT THE SAME? "I think we should run well here. This track is more about handling than what Talladega is and a little less about horsepower. The big thing for us is to make sure that we can handle well in the draft and keep the foot down on the pedal. That's what we had last year. I think if we play our cards smart and not having the rookie stripe on the back of the car, we should be able to give and get a little more help there toward the end of the race."
IS THIS A BETTER NO. 77 TEAM THIS YEAR? "I sure hope so. Having the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge team together for a year and the addition of some new people, hopefully we can move forward and get the results we want out of it. It's a lot more the team than a lot of people realize. I feel the crew excelled toward the end of the season last year. Working with Travis and all the other changes, I think we've made ourselves better."
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE 2009 SEASON? "Oh man, I've been looking forward to this season since about 30 seconds after qualifying was over at Homestead- Miami. It has been a long off-season for us. With the exception of not getting any testing, I think we have a great opportunity this season. I know everybody else is in the same boat as us. I feel Penske Racing put their resources to good use on the technological side that's going to help us out."
-credit: dodoge motorsports