KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) HOW GEARED UP ARE YOU FOR THIS RACE? "As geared up as any track. To me this is the track I want to win at the worst. I know my team does, too. They really enjoy racing here. Ray (car owner ...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
HOW GEARED UP ARE YOU FOR THIS RACE? "As geared up as any track. To me this is the track I want to win at the worst. I know my team does, too. They really enjoy racing here. Ray (car owner Evernham) has won here before with Jeff Gordon and Bill Elliott. It's definitely a big weekend for us."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL HERE? "I have some notes that I have written down from both years on why we were fast or why we weren't fast at times throughout the race. I think the biggest thing is being able to get through all the corners where you have to sacrifice a couple of corners to get through some of the other ones and making your car loose in spots to go fast through some of the other corners. To do that and just stay in the race, we've had some good races here. I think we've got a good shot to run up front."
HOW TO YOU LOOK AT LAST YEAR'S RACE HERE? "It was a good experience. It was definitely disappointing we didn't win. I wanted to win pretty bad, and I think we had as good of a car as Tony. We just didn't get it done. That was a big race for Tony, too. He did win that day. Hopefully this year it'll be ours. It is a tough race to win. This is a very, very cool place to be at all weekend long."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO WORK TRAFFIC HERE? "It just depends on how your car's handling. If it's handling good you can work traffic pretty well. You just have to time your passes. If you don't do 'em in the right spot you're going to get passed by the car behind you because he'll have the run on you. It's pretty critical to time your passes and do everything at the right time. It just depends on if you've got a good car, and hopefully our Dodge Charger will be good. Then you can definitely get it done."
DO YOU SENSE PEOPLE SCRAMBLING TO GET IN THE CHASE? "I sense it's close. It's really close right now. There's two guys looking in that will probably get in this Chase. I don't want to be one of the guys that misses it. We've got to really step it up right now. The next six races we've got to run in the top 10 and be consistent and hopefully win a couple of 'em."
TALK ABOUT DOING COMMERCIALS "The Allstate commercial has been great. It's been a lot of fun to make 'em. The people at Allstate came up with the whole spot and the scene. They've done an awesome job. I think the fans have laughed and enjoyed it. The only commercials I want to do ones that people can laugh at me and make fun of me. I think that's better than being in any type of other commercial. They've done a good job with that. We're getting ready to do some more in 2007, and hopefully they will be just as funny."
DOES THE ALLSTATE SPONSORSHIP ADD ANY MORE PRESSURE FOR THIS RACE? "The only other way would be to say if I won the race someone is going to win $400,000. Last year that's what happened. This guy probably thought I had 'em covered with 15 laps to go and I ended up losing and the poor guy lost himself. This year we're going to do it again and hopefully we can win for whoever that lucky person is."
DO YOU DRIVE A SPECIAL LINE AROUND THIS TRACK? "For some reason this track really suits my driving style. I feel like by looking at telemetry and looking at data when we test here it's definitely different than my teammates. We just do different things. I don't know why that is. I work on getting the car to roll in some areas and work on the throttle in some other spots. I really don't want to do that (pass on the outside) again this year. You're taking too big of a chance to get squished into the wall. It could happen at certain spots in the race at certain times, but the spot to pass is not on the outside at Indianapolis. It makes for fun for me. I'd much rather pass on the outside than the inside, but you just have to think about the walls and where you're at. People don't realize you're there once in awhile."
IS THIS LIKE COMING HOME FOR YOU? "I was home last week (Enumclaw, Wash.). I was in Washington last week and had a blast. We raced a couple of sprint car races and did some things with a bunch of fans out there on Sunday, a big fan club picnic. I was home last week. This is kind of the second place I lived and now Charlotte. Charlotte is one of my favorite places, but I'm happy to be here. Hopefully things go well. There's no better place to win a race than Indianapolis."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING BACK HERE THIS SEASON AFTER COMING SO CLOSE TO WINNING LAST YEAR? "I just feel like we're going to have another shot. If we do things right today and tomorrow and have a flawless race Sunday.... You can't make mistakes as a driver, crew. You've got to get on and off pit road perfectly. If we do all that we're going to have a shot to win. This is a track that fits the No. 9 car and fits our team. Hopefully we're going to put ourselves in position. We had a great test here two or three weeks ago. We're going to be really good."
WHERE DOES THIS RACE RANK FOR YOU? "It's at the top for sure. The Daytona 500 is the biggest NASCAR race if you look at the purse and the history of Daytona with stock car racing. Indianapolis is the biggest race for me that I want to win right now. The history of the Indy 500 whether it's an Indy car or stock car, it doesn't matter right now. I'd love to win at Indy."
COMMENT ON GIVE AND TAKE "I think you just have to do it at the right time. If you take, take, take from the wrong person you're going to get swatted at. Nobody in particular, but it's going to happen. You have to race like you want to be raced. If you want to race people and take, take, take and use 'em up in every corner, they're going to get you back. That's just the way it is. The points and everything, there's just too much at stake right now to mess with people if they're not racing you the way you want to be raced."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO RACE IN A PACK NOW? "I think it's definitely changed. I feel like each weekend is definitely tougher and more competitive. It's tougher to run up front. Being my third year, it's definitely changed in my three years. I think it's competitive and it's tougher to finish in the top five than it's ever been. The teams are so good and if you miss your setup by just a little bit, it doesn't take much that you can't race with a guy that's hit on his that run. You can change it on pit stops. You can go from really bad to decent in a race or really bad to all right in a race. There's a lot going on with these cars right now."
IS IT DIFFICULT TO REMAIN PATIENT? "It would definitely be easy to do (lose patience), but you have to think about them, too, think about how easy they're going to be on you the following week. You have to think about all the things going on. It's a tough part of the season. There's a lot of pressure on every driver out there, especially those trying to get in the final 10. It's something all the sponsors and all the teams want to be in. We need to do everything we can to get there."