KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Third fastest in morning testing session at 183.144 mph. The pole speed for the 2006 Cup race at LVMS was 172.403 mph. COMMENT ON THE NEW LVMS TRACK "I actually think it's pretty good....
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Third fastest in morning testing session at 183.144 mph. The pole speed for the 2006 Cup race at LVMS was 172.403 mph.
COMMENT ON THE NEW LVMS TRACK "I actually think it's pretty good. I like these types of tracks. It felt good, the transition getting from the straightaways to the corners is actually something we battled with this morning. We're trying to figure that out. It can make the back of the car pretty loose. It's rough in spots, so we have to get through the bumps. I imagine it's going to slowly keep getting rougher as time goes on. It was nice. I like the old Vegas. I like the new Vegas. It should make for a good race once everybody gets out there and the groove starts moving around some. It'll be top, middle, low. I think it'll be everywhere, so it should be pretty good."
COMMENT ON THE SPEED AT LVMS "You're going fast. We go fast at Charlotte, Texas and Atlanta.There's a lot of tracks we go fast at. To me the speed is good, and Tony (Stewart) is probably the same way. When you start thinking about racing and you get to a certain point, the speed and what it does to racing and the track is not really wide and the speed is really fast like it is at nighttime at a lot of tracks, it's hard to pass. It's hard to get going. I don't know. Once you get to a certain speed in these cars, it seems like it hurts the racing a little bit. When we come back here, it's 80-85 degrees, it'll slow down the cars some. It'll just make for a slippery track, and that'll help the racing."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS VEGAS TEST? "I always look at Vegas as the test you look forward to all winter long. To me it's the biggest test of the year. It's the test that kinda shows where we're at and shows where other teams are. We went to Kentucky. We tested at Nashville. We've done a lot of testing in the off season. Daytona is a huge test for the 500, but other than that it doesn't mean much for the rest of the year. Vegas means a lot for 23-24 of the races we go to this year. Vegas has a lot to do with that, so iout's a good test. I think it's always a lot of fun to come out here and test."
WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR OFF SEASON? "We went to Australia for two weeks, myself, my sister, cousins, brothers, friends. We had a good trip over there and had a lot of fun. We did a couple of sprint car races, which was probably one of the best parts of the whole trip. We did a couple of sprint car races on dirt. I think that was probably the best part of my off season. Just recently we've been working a lot on commercials, appearances, photo shoots, getting ready for the season. We've been just relaxing, trying to get ready and pumped up for the season. I feel pretty good about it. I'm looking forward to getting started pretty soon."
COMMENT ON THE CHANGES IN THE CHASE "I think it's going to be good. You can win races and be consistent. In the past I feel it's been a lot more about consistency. This year it's going to be a little bit more about winning. In order to win the championship you're going to have to do both, and that's what Jimmie Johnson does. He's the guy to beat as far as I can see. It'll be exciting. I like the bonus points. I like the extra points for winning the race. You can lose so many points with a bad race, whether it's a problem or a driver error or just something that happens on the racetrack. It's nice to be able to make up a few more of those points during the regular season and then the last 10 races you even get more points for it. As long as you make The Chase it's like getting 15 more points a race."
COMMENT LVMS BECOMING A SHOWPLACE AND HAS THERE BEEN TOO MUCH HYPE ABOUT IT? "I'm pretty happy here. I always enjoy coming to Vegas a couple of times a year. Last year's track seemed good as a driver because as the sun comes out it gets hot and slippery. I liked that, but the racing is probably not the best ever. Maybe this will create better racing, maybe it won't. It's tough to say. I would hope it does. The most fun time to drive is when you've got pressure late in the race. You've got to pass a car or you've got a car catching you and you want to hold him off. Hopefully that's the kind of racing this track will turn into. It makes for some good drama late in the race."
WHAT MADE YOU REALIZE YOU HAD TO MOVE EAST TO MAKE IT IN NASCAR? "I think the racing in Washington is really good. I learned a lot there when I was racing, but there's more racing in the Midwest, there's more people kwatching it, more owners, more interest in the Midwest. For me it was the only way to get where I'm at now and things worked out. I went to extra school and got out early. I think that was kinda key to doing what we did in '99 and then driving for Steve Lewis in the midgets in 2000 was a huge break and that opened up a lot of doors after 2000. Washington is a great place, but if you want to progress sometimes you have to move to make those changes."
ANOTHER COMMENT ON THE NEW TRACK AND SPEED "Really the speed is fast, the track is fast, and I think when the track is that fast it makes it tough to pass another car. It definitely makes it tough to run side by side. If a car is close to you on the outside it takes the air off your spoiler, and it's just hard to drive. That hurts the racing somewhat, but when we come back and we're racing in the middle of the day and it's 80-85 degrees out, hopefully, it should slow the track down and make it slippery. From there it'll be a pretty good race."
DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE BEARS WIN THE SUPER BOWL? "I really don't want to see it. The only reason why is because I went to Soldier Field and cheered the Seahawks on and they played great. The Bears played great, and the Bears beat 'em. I feel like the Seahawks may be in the Super Bowl if the Bears didn't take them out. It should be a good game. I feel like Peyton Manning, it's his time. He's been so good, so clutch, so on top of it for a long time. He's going to be tough to beat in the Super Bowl."
DID YOU WATCH THE 24-HOUR RACE? "Yeah, I woke up Sunday and watched it a few hours in bed. I flew out here but it seemed like an awesome race. With two hours to go three cars were within 200 yards of each other or something. That's pretty awesome for a 24-hour race. I was excited to see that. I guess if you're in the Texaco car you're going to win the Rolex. That's how it's been the past two years. That's a good thing for Ganassi. It was a good race. I thought it was good."
HOW MANY LAPS DOES IT TAKE TO GET UP TO SPEED ON A NEW TRACK? "I think my first lap was a 31.25. I think a 30.88 was the second lap. You need to figure out the bumps and transitions getting into the corners, how our car is setup. It takes a little more time. When we go to Texas to race, our first lap will be a lot closer to the speed. I started at 31.25 (here) and we're running 29.40s and 50s now. I think by the fifth or sixth lap we were on the top of the board at about a 30 flat or 29.80 or something like that. It took about five or six laps to figure it out and from there it's just making the car better. We've done a good job. My team has done an awesome job this off season to put a new Charger nose on the cars. We were fast right off the bat, and so is Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler. I'm just looking forward to getting started. This test means a lot for a lot of tracks we go to throughout this year. To be good here right off the bat, I think we can only make gains."
COMMENT ON UPCOMING NBA ALL-STAR GAME IN LAS VEGAS "I didn't really know much about the all-star game being here, but I watch a lot of basketball. I think any sporting event, any racing event that can be in Las Vegas is a good thing. It's fun to come here for the competitors, for the fans, just everything to do with the sport. It makes for a lot of hype around here and it makes it exciting. The all-star game should be the same way. There are some great players. I like the way Nash and the Phoenix Suns are playing this year. They're pretty tough."
DO YOU HAVE THE CAR HERE THAT YOU WON SO MANY RACES WITH LAST YEAR? "That's actually the car that's our fastest car. It's our best car to date. The other car is the car we raced in Vegas last year and finished fourth. Both have the new nose, and we're just working with different things on each car. 128 (prolific winning Dodge Charger from 2006) seems really fast again. It seems good, and I imagine we'll race it a lot. We'll race it here. 131, the car that won the other race, we'll race it in California. We kept with some of the same cars. I don't think we built any new mile and a half or two-mile cars. We kept what we had from last year. They're still in good shape. We put some noses on 'em and we're testing them. We're mainly working on the car of tomorrow, trying to get a little fleet ready for the short tracks coming up."
-credit: dodge motorsports