KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne scored his circuit-leading fourth victory of the season Sunday at Michigan International Speedway and moved up to third in the series standings after 15 races. Kahne has won two of...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne scored his circuit-leading fourth victory of the season Sunday at Michigan International Speedway and moved up to third in the series standings after 15 races. Kahne has won two of the last four races and finished seventh in the other two, moving from eighth to third in the standings entering Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
COMMENT ON MICHIGAN VICTORY "We had a really great Dodge Charger up there. We felt good about it and qualified first. That really helped out our pit stops on Sunday, and the pit crew did an awesome job. It was a great team effort. Those guys did an awesome job after we had to fall back because of debris on the nose of the car. We got back up there. I was pretty happy with my guys and proud to be driving that car. It was pretty good."
COMMENT ON DODGE/SAVE MART 350 "We did some testing last week with Boris Said, trying to figure it out, trying to get better at road racing. I really enjoy road racing. I'm not where I want to be there yet, but I think our cars are really good and everything is good. We've just got to get the driver to step up a little bit and keep improving. Hopefully this weekend we'll keep it on the road the whole race and have a good result. I think we can definitely get a top 15 or top 10 or maybe better than that out of it."
COMMENT ON FRED BROWNFIELD "It's really unfortunate, really a sad deal. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. Fred has meant a lot to my career. He's made sprint car racing really good in Washington. He's a big part of why it's what it is out there. We're going to miss the guy. He was a good friend, a good person. I can't believe something like that happened. It's really a sad, unfortunate deal. I just thank him for everything he's put behind his racing series. He's really helped me out a lot."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO ENJOY ALL THIS SUCCESS? "I've definitely been able to enjoy it and have some funs with the wins, but really every time we win the next day you wake up and you're happy you won but you're ready to keep working on the rest of the season and working on the next race. That's how it's been. I'm having the guys over tomorrow night, everyone on my team. We're having a big barbeque and going to have some fun. We've had it planned for awhile and now to win again it's going to make for a pretty good time for tomorrow night."
WAS YOUR DAD AT MICHIGAN ON FATHER'S DAY? "Yes, that was actually his first Nextel Cup race that I won, so to be there on Father's Day and get to hang out with me and my brother we were pretty happy. To win was a pretty cool way to top off the weekend."
WHAT HAS KENNY FRANCIS MEANT MOST TO THE TEAM THIS YEAR? "Probably just the knowledge and hard work. He's always thinking. From the time I met him a couple of years ago when he was working on Mayfield's car to now when he's running my deal, the guy is always thinking. You can explain something to him and can tell he's listening when you're explaining it. I've explained a lot of things over the last couple of years, and he's always listening and trying to figure out how to make that problem better. He's just awesome to work for."
COMMENT ON TWO-DAY RACE NEXT MONTH IN ELMO, WASHINGTON "I'm happy and excited to go out there to race. I don't get to go out there too often. We're going to go out there and try to put on a good show and sign autographs and try to make the fans feel like I'm the same guy that was there a few years back. We'll try to have a good time with the fans. It's just really upsetting. It's bad what happened to Fred. I wish he was going to be out there. I think we're going to really enjoy that weekend and have some fun. Fred should be a big part of that. He's really helped me out and I think the fans deserve everything he did."
COMMENT ON THE CHARGER THAT'S 4 FOR 4 THIS SEASON "The biggest thing is it's just a little luckier than the other cars. We've got a lot of good cars. They're building more identical to that car. We've got some good ones. It's just the one that's won all four races. It's pretty awesome. It's hard to believe a racecar would be four for four at this point of the season, but they build them all the same and that's just the car that ended up winning them."
YOU'RE GOING TO A ROAD COURSE AND THEN A PLATE RACE. "We're going to Californina and doing something different than we've done this year so far. We'll try to keep it on the road and put a good race together. It's going to be a completely different track than what we've been on, completely different driving style. Then we'll go to Daytona and bump draft, so I'm looking forward to both of them. It's just really a different couple of races."
COMMENT ON YOUR PLATE PROGRAM "I think it's pretty good. Talladega was pretty disappointing. We got in that big wreck on lap 8 when they tried to go five or six wide. We just got in a wreck and didn't really get to see what we had at Talladega, but I know at Daytona the car was handling perfect all day long. We ended up 11th with a car that could have been in the top six or seven and ended up 11th. I feel like Ray has put a lot behind our restrictor-plate stuff. The engine shop has stepped up and our cars are good. Our cars are great. We just need to keep working on more horsepower."
DO YOU THINK YOUR SUCCESS WILL HELP GETTING A SPEEDWAY IN WASHINGTON? "I've tried to do a lot of things to get that track out there, and I think our winning races is getting everybody excited out there. It's good. It's a big help in getting that racetrack out there, but it all comes down to what the people want and what the state wants. Hopefully they'll want NASCAR here pretty soon."
COMMENT ON THE MAJOR CHANGES IN THE WAY RACECARS ARE BUILT "Growing up I was in sprint cars, and I didn't know a lot about NASCAR, so it was tough to know a long way back about how they built the cars. When I first got into Busch in 2002 until now the cars are just crazy they're putting so much time and money and effort into building the cars. A lot of work goes into every car."
COMMENT ON YOUR COMMERCIALS "It took us a couple of days to do. I think Allstate has done an awesome job. They're really a great sponsor to work with and I've enjoy every commercial I've done. I enjoyed hanging out with those girls and making funny commercials. I think a lot of people really enjoy the Allstate commercials. They send me the scripts ahead of time, but I usually forget to look at everything."
COMMENT ON YOUR LOVE OF BASKETBALL "I grew up playing basketball in junior high and high school. When I go home in the wintertime I play with a bunch of my friends. I get guys rounded up and we play three-on-three at my house now. I put in a court and we're really having some fun with it. It's a great sport and it really keeps you in shape. I'm following the (NBA) finals. (The court) is just a slab of concrete. I've got two hoops at each end. I haven't even painted lines yet. I need to paint on some three-point lines."
KENNY FRANCIS (Team Director No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON HOW YOU'VE SEEN KASEY KAHNE DEVELOP "He's come a long way. I've known of him since 2000 and he started driving for us in 2004. You could tell he had a lot of talent. He was really good at car control. He was really good at passing people and just general racing. This year he's shown a lot more maturity and patience I think, and that's the biggest thing. A good example was at Michigan. We sat on the pole and he led the first lap. He ran a pretty fast lap on that first lap and here comes (Jeff) Gordon flying around the outside and took the lead. He ran a lap almost as fast as he qualified. I think in the past maybe Kasey would have tried to race him, but he saw he got his five points and he didn't need to run his car hard then. It's a long race and just settle in and see what the car's got. Ten laps later he called in on the radio and said 'we're fixing to reel him back in. Everything is cool.' He's just a lot more relaxed I think, a lot more patient and calm and collected."
COMMENT ON JIMMIE JOHNSON LEADING THE STANDINGS "They're doing pretty good. They're really consistent. They tend to overcome problems quite a bit. They've had quite a few problems this year and have overcame them and got good finishes. They're one of the better teams out there as far as that whole race team being able to put that whole package together, and they've been that way for awhile. We feel like we should be right there with them. We've had a couple of things happen out of our control that set us back. If it wasn't for that we'd be right them with them."
COMMENT ON UNLEADED FUEL IN NASCAR "I don't have any idea what that entails. I don't work on the motors at all. I'm sure the engine shop is pretty concerned about it. I think they tried it in the past a few years ago and it was kind of messed up because I think some people had some problems with lines and gaskets and stuff like that not being compatible with the blend they were trying to run. I'm sure they're working with all the engine manufacturers and trying to get all the bugs out before they introduce it. We had that experience before and I think everybody has gone to better lines and materials and stuff. I doubt if it will be much of a problem."
IS IT A RELIEF KNOWING YOU WONT' BE RUNNING LEADED GASOLINE? "I don't know. I've never really thought about it. I've raced all my life, so that's all I've every known as far as the gasoline. You try not to breathe it. Everyone knows not to breathe the stuff and stay away from it. I don't know that it's a huge issue."
CAN YOU GIVE A MIDSEASON REPORT CARD ON THE 9 TEAM? "I think we're doing pretty good. I don't know if I want to give us a grade, but I think we expected to run good but you never know what's going to happen. I think we've proven to be a pretty good race team. Kasey has done a great job driving the cars. We had our issues that we had to overcome and we came back and got good finishes out of the. Even last week we won we had a couple of major issues we were able to come back from. I think the team is doing pretty good. Our whole team is pretty focused. I think everyone is really determined and putting forth 100 percent. I think we're doing as well as you could expect. We're doing a pretty good job."
WHAT CAN CUP TEAMS LEARN RUNNING A BUSCH RACE? "I don't have a lot to do with the Busch deal. That's stuff that's above me and stuff Ray wants to do. I think Kasey wanted to run some more Busch races this year. The only thing it helps us with is to get a little better feel for the tires. That's really about it. The aerodynamics are so much different. There's so much less horsepower. The wheel base is five inches shorter. There's not a lot chassis wise or setup wise we learn from the Busch car. About the only thing from the Busch car that applies is to us, to me is looking at the tires. You'd have to ask Kasey what he thinks about driving the Busch car and if that helps him on Sunday. I'm not sure. It could be a detriment, too. There have been times where the Busch car hasn't run as well as they wanted it to and maybe it hurts his confidence. I don't know, but I think the Busch Series is good for developing the younger guys. I think younger guys need to run against the higher level of competition so they can get better. There's been a lot of talk about it this year, but look in the past. Cup guys have always won a lot of Busch races on the bigger tracks, even if you look back in the '80s."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE WAY CARS ARE BUILT? "Twenty years ago a lot of body parts were brought off production cars. A lot of the cars were different. Now everybody is running very similar cars and all the parts are pretty much hand built. I think that's the biggest difference in the car side of it. They were always hand built, but we're really not using too many stock panels off a stock production car anymore, whereas in the past you used the whole grille, roof, doors and fenders and you just modified it. I think the biggest change is in the engine department. It's unbelievable the horsepower and reliability we're getting out of them. Twenty years ago they had probably 200 less horsepower and nowhere near the reliability they have now. A lot of it has come from having to step up your game to beat the guy next to you, but the engine shops are really high tech now and a lot of it has come with just general society, advances in technology with computer modeling and stuff like that."
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED MOST THIS YEAR ABOUT YOUR JOB? "I've been doing this job with the 19 team for the past three years, but I think the level of detail in this sport keeps going up. You have to keep getting more detailed and look at more and more aspects of the car and team and setups and stuff to continue to run good. The competition level keeps going up and the aerodynamics and the way the rules are forces you to step up your game to keep up with the guy next to you."
HAS KASEY'S DIRT TRACK BACKGROUND HELPED HIM WITH CAR CONTROL? "I definitely think Kasey has probably got the best car control of anybody out there. There might be some equal. I don't know if there's any better. You look at a guy like Greg Biffle and he comes from a completely different background. He comes from racing late models in Washington. I think it's just the fact that you need to be able to drive a lot of different cars and get a lot of different experience. I like guys who have driven high horsepower cars and sprint cars have got a lot of horsepower and they're pretty light. It's a handful to keep underneath you, to control. You need a lot of different skills and there's a lot of different ways to get 'em, but on the average the guys that have won sprint cars like Kasey and Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon. You look at those guys on average and those are the guys that seem to have the best car control. On the other hand you look at a guy like Denny Hamlin who is doing really well and he comes from late model stocks around the Carolinas and Virginia and those are relatively low horsepower cars, so I guess there's a lot of different ways to get it. Sometimes I think it's just a matter of refining it."
DOES YOUR BACKGROUND AS A DRIVER HELP YOU COMMUNICATE BETTER WITH KASEY? "I drove a long time, from when I was eight years old to 28. That might have something to do with it. It's hard for me to say because I've driven since I was a little kid and I wouldn't know any other way. I think it has something to do with it. I've never driven a Nextel Cup car or a Busch car, but I've got a lot of friends who have and have raced against me and are driving these things now and they've told me a little bit about them. I think knowing what the driver is going through out there and knowing how frustrated he can really get and why you're getting frustrated is a big part of it. Somebody said that when you're in a racecar you're always in a bad mood. That's true. You're always trying to make it go a little faster and you're always trying to pass the next guy whether it's when you're leading and trying top pass a lapped car or whether you're running 20th and trying to get to 19th, so that's the biggest part of it I've helped Kasey with. I've tried to let him know all right if we're back here running 20th. We'll keep working on it and get up there, just don't worry about it. Let us worry about it. I think that's a big part of what I see. It's not that I was a decent driver. I just know the level of frustration you can go through out there and I try to help him get through that."