Daytona 500: Kasey Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne announced sponsorship with Open Joist for Kasey Kahne Racing on Friday morning at DIS. "My World of Outlaw team is going to be all Open Joist. My two USAC teams are all Mopar cars...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Kahne announced sponsorship with Open Joist for Kasey Kahne Racing on Friday morning at DIS.

"My World of Outlaw team is going to be all Open Joist. My two USAC teams are all Mopar cars and Open Joist is an associate on those cars, one for Ganassi -- Brady Bacon -- and Kevin Swindell is the driver for Ray Evernham. It's an exciting time, and we're looking forward to it. The Outlaw team has run six races this season and has six top 10s and won a race with Joey Saldana. It's pretty neat to have Open Joist on board and also to work with Dodge and Mopar and put Open Joist on Chase Miller's Dodge Ram is very cool, too."

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MIKE DELAHANTY (Senior Manager, Dodge Motorsports programs)

"We're real proud with what Kasey has done, not only out here in NASCAR but also with the sprint car teams as well. To bring in a great partner like Open Joist along with Ram brings two strong brands together. It's another great Michigan company. It's great to bring them together along with Kasey and Bobby Hamilton Racing. It's a win-win relationship for everybody."

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KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO JEFF GORDON'S PENALTY? "I've only heard. I wasn't there during any of it. Personally, I don't want to get too much into it because I've stayed out of it all week long. I think for Kenny Francis to have the record he has had in racing -- never crossing lines, never messing around -- for the officials to tell him to put a piece of tape over a vent, he put it on, and half the piece of tape blew off. For him to get 50 points and suspended for four weeks is crazy. How big of a deal? How big of a fine that is compared to what all these other teams have gotten so far with their fines and penalties? I feel bad for Kenny because he's a great guy. He works so many hours and works so hard to make cars fast and do things the right way. It's such a little deal. It was taped up. It wasn't like it wasn't put there. The tape was put there and half of it blew off. That's disappointing. Jeff Gordon's deal, I don't know. It seems like a pretty big deal to me, but that's the way it goes. It's up to NASCAR how they do things. You come to Daytona and every single team here is trying as hard as they can to go fast. It's the Daytona 500. They're trying as hard as they can to win the race and sit on the pole. Whatever their penalties or their way of going about (handling) things that are wrong, that's NASCAR's way. We just have to live with it. I can't say how they should penalize any team here. I just don't know."

COMMENT ON HANDLING AT DAYTONA "Handling is huge. Even yesterday in the 150, my car was off a little bit on the first run. We got up there and then fell back. The second run we got the car handling pretty good and drove all the way up to fourth or fifth. I'm really happy with the way our Dodge Dealers car was handling and the way we communicated as a team without Kenny this weekend and the way everybody has stepped up so far. I think the guys are doing a great job. I'm pumped for the 500 on Sunday. I think we're going to have a shot to hopefully win the race. These next two practices are going to be big. They probably mean the most for the whole week. We've had the Bud Shootout and the 150s now and we've got two more practices before the final. I want to take care of our car, yet make long enough runs to see where our tires are, where the right front is at, what's going on with tire wear and how the car is handling. If we do that we should be pretty decent on Sunday."

HOW WELL CAN YOU AND ELLIOTT SADLER WORK TOGETHER? "It's tough to say. Yesterday his car and Scott Riggs' car weren't as good as mine was. In the Shootout, Elliott had a great car. I think if all three of us keep working as a team -- we had about a two-hour team meeting last night and went over a lot of things. Hopefully the three of us can get together and be strong."

HOW IS ELLIOTT TO WORK WITH AS A TEAMMATE? "Last year he was great. This year we're just starting. The off season testing has been awesome with Elliott and Scott. We've all come up with great ideas with different things for the teams to change during the offseason. We feel like Daytona could be really good and California and Vegas as time goes on is just going to get better."

WHAT KIND OF A ROLE HAS RAY EVERNHAM PLAYED AFTER THE SUSPENSIONS? "Ray just wants us to stay together as a team. That's what we all want to do. It's a little disappointing not to have Kenny, but that's the way it goes. We'll get him back in a month. He's going to be right on the side working as hard as he can. The 48 team went without Chad Knauss for awhile last year, and Chad and his guys worked as hard as they could and still won the championship."

COMMENT ON THE 24 STARTING IN THE BACK "The 24 is good. I don't think he has the best car here. I think there are a couple of cars that are better. It just depends on what holes you take and how you choose to get there, but you can go from 42nd to the front in probably six or seven laps if you do the right stuff. I think the 20 is the car everybody is most concerned with. That car is really good. The 38, the 8 showed a lot of strength yesterday driving up through the field. There are definitely some good race cars. I think if we get our car handling good enough.... Our engines have come a long way in the last year, so it should be pretty exciting on Sunday. There's just a lot going on. It's Daytona and everybody is trying to get all they can, whether it's going overboard or not."

HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT FOR YOU? "It hasn't been that bad for me. I've been doing the same stuff. I talk to Kenny on the phone at night and in the day after practices. I just think about what the car is doing and we can relay that stuff to Keith our engineer who has taken over the team director's spot for a few weeks. Other than that it's just been normal Daytona, hectic with sponsors and exciting."

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? "Well, I've never won it, and I've never really been that close to winning it. Handling is what it's all about here. It's so tough to go fast if your car is not handling right. You've got to be able to hold it wide open. Only a few cars can do that at the end of a run when the tires are old."

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHO YOU DRAFT WITH? "You just hope that whoever you go with will help you later. You just look for fast cars. If your car is fast you're going to have people follow you. If your car is slow, you're not going to have anyone. It's the same with other guys. If you see a fast car, that's who you're going to get behind. If it's a Dodge or a teammate of mine you might look for them a little more often -- a Kurt Busch or a Ryan Newman and definitely my teammates. We'd like to get Dodge in victory lane here at Daytona. From there, you just look for fast cars and try to get to the front."

COULD IT BE AN ADVANTAGE HAVING FRANCIS AT THE SHOP PREPARING OTHER CARS? "Our team is pretty caught up. We have a lot of cars ready to go and we're looking forward to getting started at the two-mile and mile-and-a-half tracks we ran so well at last year. Kenny is working hard on Daytona still. He's still a big part of what we're doing down here, and he's working hard on the next three or four weeks. He's doing the same stuff he's always doing. He's just not standing in the garage right now."

COMMENT ON THE COT "We've done some good testing with the car of tomorrow, some nice short track tests and feel like we've gained a lot. There are different ways to make the car handle right and things you can do to that car that you can't do to the car we have now. It's pretty neat. It's a different ball game for me, but it's been fun to try to figure that car out, but I'm looking forward to Bristol and Martinsville."

COMMENT ON THE TIRE SITUATION FOR THE DAYTONA 500 "The tires are a bit harder, so they slide around a little bit more. Handling is more of an issue, more of a factor than it was last year. Always in the 500 it seems like the sun comes out whether it's 50 degrees or 80 degrees. The sun is out and handling is big. I think you'll see the same thing this year, and you'll see a lot of single file after 20 laps."

DOES PARITY AMONG DRIVERS APPEAL TO THE FANS? "I like what we have in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. I like the different drivers and teams and the excitement different drivers show. I think fans do, too. They love the sponsors, the colors, everything about it. It's an exciting sport. There are so many smart people in NASCAR you're always trying to get that edge on the next guy if you want to win."

COMMENT ON GOING TO CALIFORNIA AFTER DAYTONA "It's not a two-week ordeal. It's a three-day deal. You work hard to win on Sunday. We won the last race at California, and we'll go back there feeling like we can win the next one. Our team is very strong, and I'm looking forward to it. I think we're going to have a good race Sunday, and I think we'll have another good race at California."

DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT PEOPLE THINK YOUR TEAM IS CHEATING? "You don't like to have people think that, but personally I wasn't cheating and I don't think our team was really cheating. It's really not that big a deal what happened, and every team in here is trying to get a little bit of an edge. It's very small what teams are trying and NASCAR is just trying to keep an eye on everything to make sure things don't get out of control."

IS IT IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT THE 9 AND 55 TEAMS DID? "Yes, everybody knows not to mess with an engine and not to mess with fuel. That's a ton of speed. It's like if your car was really low. That's a ton of speed. Those are the kind of things you don't mess with and usually you get big fines for it or big point losses. We know not to mess with that."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Kurt Busch , Scott Riggs , Kevin Swindell , Kasey Kahne , Ray Evernham , Joey Saldana , Chad Knaus , Chase Miller