Indianapolis: 2nd, 3rd, rookie press conference (part 2)

Continued from part 1 Q: Did any of you have any problems with that chunk of debris that Gordon or Kenseth hit or did they knock it out of the way? JARRETT: I saw Matt hit it. I didn't realize Jeff hit it. He obviously didn't hit it quite...

Continued from part 1

Q: Did any of you have any problems with that chunk of debris that Gordon or Kenseth hit or did they knock it out of the way?

JARRETT: I saw Matt hit it. I didn't realize Jeff hit it. He obviously didn't hit it quite hard enough (laughter). I thought Matt got a right front tire down. I didn't actually see it until it came out from under his car. I think that I know it messed up his day. He had a really good car. It looked more like a piece of lead to me. Somebody said something about a brake rotor. It looked more like a piece of lead. I'm not sure exactly what it was. I obviously didn't see it until Matt hit it.

Q: The other question is, it took like 60 years for the Indianapolis 500 to have a four time winner. Got one here in 11 years in the Brickyard. Should there be any comparison? Does anything translate there?

JARRETT: Yeah, he's probably as good as a driver as ever been here. I don't care how many years they have been racing. He'll win a lot more than four. I think it just shows what a great talent Jeff Gordon is. He's beat the very best here because everybody brings their best stuff. Aside from Daytona, we prepare for this race as much as any that we do. And for that guy to come here and win a little over a third of them is pretty incredible. It shows they have a great team, but they have a great driver right there, too. You have to consider him one of the best drivers of any kind that's ever been here.

Q: Dale, how far does this go in quelling some of the frustrations you've had in recent months, times? Elliott, address it from the standpoint of it was a challenge, you had some challenges when you first joined this series, but just as a year where you're proving yourself, just address it from that viewpoint, if you would.

JARRETT: From our standpoint, yeah, I mean, the last two months have been really good for us. This year's been much better. We've been much more competitive. But, you know, we've gone now from what the beginning of the year was, just kind of an average team, you know, from 12th to 20th basically was where we were running. Now we're a solid top-10 team week in and week out. We're able to compete. A day like today, to do this in one of our biggest races means a lot to us, gives us a lot of confidence. Even going to Watkins Glen next week, where I'm not considered one of the better road racers, we finished in the top five there a number of times, in the top 10 quite a few times. That's kind of what we needed. Our team is headed in the right direction. A lot of that credit goes to Elliott and his team because there's a lot of things that they have done that have helped us tremendously. You know, this is a solid team effort, making this happen. A lot of gratification to come to a place like this and finish well.

SADLER: Yeah, as far as when I got started, I think the biggest challenges I faced is being with a single car team. I never really had notes to compare with anybody else. A lot of places I go, I just try to go off the wind, try to feel it out. Didn't always know what my car needed to feel like on Saturday to be good on Sunday. I became teammates with DJ. I've learned more in the last year and a half about racing than I've learned in 17, 18 years. The reason because of that is we both had terrible seasons last year, but his attitude didn't change towards his guys, his determination, things he wanted in his race car never changed. Man, I learned so much from him on that and places that we go, I get ideas from him on Saturday, can go talk to him. I love having a teammate. I can't imagine now going back to a single car team after having a teammate that likes the same things I do, we like our cars pretty similar, our cars are pretty close today, as you can tell. I've learned more, a lot from him, and I drive for the best car owner in the business, Robert Yates, whose willing to take time any day of the week to sit down, explain things to you about what's going on on and off the racetrack. A lot of teams, people wouldn't really take that time to mess with you about it. I'm in a perfect situation. I'm living the time of my life. I feel like I am with the best team I have ever been with. We get along better than any team I've ever been around. Hopefully be around a long time.

Q: Kasey, would you consider today frustrating considering you were powerful early on, had a slight incident, rallied back to finish fourth?

KAHNE: Yeah. I think we had a great race car early on, blew a left front, hit the wall, and came back to fourth. So, you know, I think that was a good job by the pit crew. They really did a good job all day to get me in and out of the pits quick, make the changes, fix the fenders. Everything they did, Tommy made a lot of good calls, they got me back on the track. They got the track position for me. Our team did a good job.

Q: Elliott, middle part of the race, you were running second to Jeff the whole time. All of a sudden one lap there you slipped back to fifth or sixth. What happened there?

SADLER: We just got loose. We put two tires on. My car is a lot looser on two tires than four. When the 17 got to me, really made me loose. By the time I got it up to me, the 31 got up and made my loose again. I about wrecked both those corners. I figured I'd let the 31 and 88 go by and settle in in line behind them and heat my front tires up as much as I could to tighten the car back up. I just lost a little track position there. But that was probably probably ended up being the turning the point of our race, why we probably didn't have a shot at the win. I wanted to make sure the car was in one piece at the end of the race. I could have tried to stay in front of them, but I also could be windshield deep right now and finish 30th. I didn't want to do that either. I was on the edge of my talent level. I was about to run out of talent there.

Q: DJ, I don't recall whether you had any particular setbacks in '99 when you started to build your points up to several hundred points. How nice would it be to be in Jimmie Johnson's seat as the points leader and come out and try new things and blow up a motor and it really not matter all that much?

JARRETT: Yeah, it would probably be a different situation in looking because, I mean, he knows that he's definitely in the Top 10 here. You know, he's sitting in a very good position to where they can experiment a little bit. But I'm sure still on the other side of it, they want to be carrying momentum into that 10 race deal, too. So I would look for them to get back to some things that have worked for them. They'll leave the experimenting to test days and things like that. But they're a very good team, and you can't look and say that today was anything other than I would assume a parts failure there somewhere. So they were still they have a great race team. But that would be kind of neat. You know, when we left here in '99, I'm not sure, we had a pretty good sized lead. We still had to race because we were racing right till the end. There was a lot of racing yet to do.

Q: Dale, on those restarts where you were in second place, was there any one of them that you might have had a shot to get him?

JARRETT: No. He could get away in turn one. As I would get down there, the harder I tried, the front of my car just would not stick there. I would lose time getting back to the gas. I tried backing out a little bit early. He could just stay in the gas through Turn 1. Elliott was a lot the same way. I knew from previous restarts when I was behind them that those two cars were just quicker than I was on the restart. Turns 1 and 2 and basically 3, I could start getting a little bit of feel by turn four of that first lap. They could just get away from me too much. You know, I was on his bumper. He was doing different things as we came to the green, slowing us down, getting me right to his bumper. But I was able to get in the gas with him. But once we got to Turn 1, he was pretty much gone.

Q: Kasey, this has been a season of almost and what ifs, oil, different issues. How did you manage to keep your composure running well early, then you had the tire problem? Crew chief have a lot to do with saying, "It will be OK, stay calm," or did you think, "Oh, no, not again"?

KAHNE: Tommy has done a good job all year of keeping me calm. Even last week at Pocono when I run into Stewart, bent the front of the car up, I thought the race was over, too, we came back to third. I think just listening to Tommy, he always gives me lap times, tells me we're still in the race. Says a lot of things that just keep me calm. I'll race as hard as I can till it's over.

Q: Dale, does this race kind of showcase driver ability more so than the Daytona 500, where so much is so dependent being in the right place, right time, drafting?

JARRETT: Absolutely, no doubt (laughter). I think we got two, three, four sitting in here. This is no doubt this is a driver's racetrack. Car makes a little difference, but the driver really. No, seriously, it is. Probably more so for a lot of reasons. I mean, the driver, there's a lot of different things that you can do as a driver here. But first and foremost, your job is to relate to your crew chief through practice time and your testing here, what your car is doing, try to explain that. But as you get into the race, there are different things you can do. So you do really make a difference here, whereas Daytona, you know, your car if you don't have the car, it doesn't really matter how good a driver you are at times. So you still have to do the job, and it's not taking away from anybody that's had success at Daytona, but, I mean, it's easy to sit here and say that now, but it is a lot of driver ability here because I think that's why I put Jeff Gordon up there with the best drivers that have ever been in this sport. I think that's why you see him having a lot of success here.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, congratulations, gentlemen. We have a couple more questions for Kasey. I think Kasey jumped to 11th in the point standings ahead of Jeremy, only about 31 points out of 10th place.

Q: They're talking about teammates. I just wondered how much having Jeremy and also having Bill Elliott as the former winner here, if they helped out for the fourth place finish today as well as all season up to now?

KAHNE: Yeah, I think it's really helped out the first half of this season a lot to have a teammate like Jeremy. Jeremy, every week, we talk, kind of talk about engine stuff or the way the car's handling, just different characteristics of the car. Bill, he helped me early in the season a lot. He was always around. To have him back here this weekend racing, I made my way over to his garage stall a couple times this week just to talk to him about different things. You can always learn a lot from Bill, especially from Bill and Jeremy all the time, too. Just two good guys to talk to.

Q: On the track, are you aware of like the guys that you're racing in the chase, the guys that you have to be ahead of? Do you know where Harvick is? Are they telling you that kind of thing?

KAHNE: You know, I really don't. Today would have been the best day to try to figure that out with that big board on the front straightaway, gives all the spots. But, no, I never really look. The only time I look on that board is to see who's in front of me, how many laps we're down, just trying to get more position, see where we're at on the track. Other than that, I obviously care where everybody is at the end of the race, but throughout the race, we're just trying to do as good as we can. When it's over, we see where everybody's at, see if they gained some points.

Q: I'm sure there's a lot of people in this town that would love to see you run here sometime in May. Your upbringing in USAC, how much do you hear that, hear people try to influence you someday to maybe give it another shot?

KAHNE: I don't really hear it a whole lot. I hear it once in a while, you have people ask you about that. But I kind of bring it up with myself a lot, wonder if I'll get that chance or if I can ever kind of find an opportunity to make that chance. I definitely, you know, would love to race here twice a year instead of just once.

Q: You did gain a position in the green-white-checkered. Has your opinion changed of that?

KAHNE: My opinion's been the same all year. You know, with seven laps to go, it's the same situation as you're in with two laps to go on the green-white-checkered. I feel everybody goes for it late in the race. I was saying all along, I think give us one chance at a green/white checkered. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. If there is wrecks and we're in it, then that's a bad thing. But I think there's also times we're going to pass a car or win the race or gain a couple positions because of that, too. I think it all evens out. The fans get a green-white-checkered, they get a race that finishes on the green.

MODERATOR: Congratulations.

KAHNE: Thank you.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Robert Yates