Tuesday, June 7,2005 Dodge Motorsports Teleconference KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne made his mark at Pocono Raceway as a Raybestos Rookie driver in 2004 by winning the pole and finishing 14th in the first...
Tuesday, June 7,2005
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne made his mark at Pocono Raceway as a Raybestos Rookie driver in 2004 by winning the pole and finishing 14th in the first race at the 2.5-mile triangle. He qualified 20th and finished third in the second race at Pocono last year.
"I like Pocono. It was a fun track to race at last year. It'll be different this year without shifting. We're not going to be able to shift because with the new gear rules. We're looking forward to it. We finished third there in the second race and had a top-five going in the first race and I got into the wall. It should be a pretty good track for us. I'm excited to take our Dodge Charger up there."
COMMENT ON GREG BIFFLE'S COMMENT CONCERNING NOT ENOUGH QUALITY DRIVERS TO GO BEHIND THE WHEEL OF ALL THE QUALITY CARS
"I think there are a lot of good teams and a lot of good drivers. Roush and Hendrick obviously have everything figured out right now. Their drivers are doing a good job for their teams. A lot of Dodge drivers could be just as good. We just have to figure everything out and do it consistently. That's where we've lacked a little bit, consistency this year. I think all the Dodge teams have. I haven't see one Dodge team that has been more consistent than we have, and we haven't been that consistent."
DO YOU THINK ERIN CROCKER CAN BE THE DANICA PATRICK OF NASCAR SOME DAY SOON?
"Danica has done a real good job so far in the first two races this year. She did an awesome job at Indy. I think Erin can be very good. She's going to need a lot of work in testing and getting to drive around other racecars, things she really hasn't got a lot of experience in. If she can get all that I hope that she can be good."
WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON PASSING?
"A lot of it has to do with what time of the race it is. There are times when it's time to go and you need to get to a car and pass him and clear him and go on. There are other times early in a race when you get to a car and you don't need to work him over quite as hard. You don't need to maybe take the air off him to get by him. It's so easy to get air off cars with the rule package now. It's easy to get into the back of a car and move him up the track a little bit. I don't know. I think there are a lot of different times during a race when your mindset is a little different depending on tires and what part of the run you're in."
ARE YOU GOING TO RACE AT ELDORA THIS WEEK?
"I have a Mountain Dew appearance Wednesday so I won't be able to do that, but I'm going to do a race with Tony (Stewart) later this year up at Eldora in the middle of August. That'll be a good time, and the way he's got it set up it's going to be pretty neat, too."
HAS THIS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST ROLLER-COASTER SEASONS YOU'VE EVER HAD?
"Usually it doesn't seem like it's like this. Usually it's either good or bad and it stays that way for awhile and you make changes to get better. We've had a lot of inconsistency. Different things go on, different characteristics of the racecar. We haven't figured all that out yet, but hopefully we're getting closer to running consistent each week. I know we need to in order to get in that Chase. We're falling behind."
HOW MUCH OF THE INDY 500 DID YOU GET TO WATCH?
"I watched pretty much all of it. I had a few meet and greets and a few things to do during it, but I was able to watch most of the 500. It's such an exciting race. It's exciting to watch every part of it. I enjoy it. I enjoyed it when I used to go and watch and now I watch it on TV. I would hope to get an opportunity to race in that race in the near future."
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERIES LIKE USAC MIDGETS TO THE RACING INDUSTRY?
"It's where the drivers learn. A lot of them are younger at that time and can take things in quick. Depending on what series you're in, there's a lot of different series you can learn how to drive any type of racecar, and that helps when you get into NASCAR or IRL or any type of division you're in. I really enjoyed racing USAC and winged sprint cars, the World of Outlaws and things like that. I learned a lot from those classes."
HOW DID YOU KNOW ERIN CROCKER AND WHAT MADE YOU RECOMMEND HER TO RAY EVERNHAM?
"I had raced with her before maybe once or twice and I had seen her race a few times and knew she raced the entire World of Outlaw Series and did a pretty decent job there. I knew she could drive. I saw some of the things she did and she did a really good job in some of the races I was at. Ray asked me one day if I knew anything about her. I told him what I knew and he liked what he heard and hired her. She's done a good job since."
WAS THERE ONE THING ABOUT HER DRIVING STYLE YOU LIKED AND DOES SHE REMIND YOU OF RAY AT ALL?
"She doesn't remind me of Ray at all. I don't know why she would remind me of Ray, but I think she's aggressive. She wants to learn. She's focused on racing, and that's what it takes."
TALK ABOUT THE CROP OF DRIVERS IN NASCAR TODAY
"I think there are some really good younger drivers. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, McMurray, Mears -- there's a lot of them. They all drive hard. We want to do whatever we can every lap of the race. That's just the way NASCAR is these days. That's the way everybody is driving -- Jeff Gordon to Tony Stewart, everybody. It seems like everybody just kind of went in that direction. I really haven't been part of too many instances this year that's been part of angry type of stuff. Most of mine have been on my own or having to do with racecars or other things. There have been some crashes this year because of other guys passing each other, but I haven't been part of that. I haven't seen much of it."
ARE YOU CLOSE TO FINDING OUT THE PROBLEM WITH CONSISTENCY?
"We have such a great race team here at Evernham Motorsports. It seems like everybody here are very smart people, so yeah, we're really close. We just haven't hit on it. We haven't figured out what the inconsistency is. There are a lot of different things it could be. It will only take one time to hit on it and then we'll be fine. I thought we did at Richmond. We obviously hit on something there, but it didn't help at other tracks, so we're back to where we were, just looking for that little bit."
IS IT JUST IN ONE AREA OR DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT WEEKS?
"It's really just the front end package, to get the front end to work, to turn. That's been the issue from the start."
DOES NASCAR FEEL A NEED FOR A DANICA PATRICK?
"I haven't really seen that. I haven't really paid attention, but the way Danica has done and the way things went at Indy, it was really big for racing and her and Team Rahal. It could be big to get a girl in NASCAR. It would be huge. I think with the right direction, which hopefully Ray does with her (Erin Crocker) it can be done. It's a tough business it seems like."
TALK ABOUT THE DAYS AFTER YOUR FIRST CUP WIN AT RICHMOND
"It was really exciting. I was happy. I was excited. The team was. I was gone that entire week. I already had commitments, plus the victory we had a lot of media and different things going on. I was gone. I wasn't able to get back until Friday of the All-Star qualifying that weekend. I just had a lot of fun. Even though I was busy, it was still a lot of fun. It was like a relief more than anything. As busy as I was it wasn't like I was able to have a bunch of fun. Hopefully we get to do it again and have more of a relaxing fun time because of the victory."
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THE FOCUS YOU NEED TO COMPETE?
"I think it's just how bad you want it, how your team works with you, how your crew chief keeps you calm or keeps you pumped up depending on what you need to do throughout the race. That's the biggest thing, having the right people working with you, having the right people talking to you, having Ray Evernham as your owner and learning things from him each week definitely helps, too. I think you have to learn a lot of it. Some drivers focus more than others. When you're in certain situations they're the ones that make the situations work more than the others. I think you have it, but you also work on making it better."
BEING A WEST COAST NATIVE, DO YOU ENJOY RACING AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY MORE THAN OTHER TRACKS?
"Not really. It's fun to be around, and it's fun to see more people from Enumclaw, Wash., where I'm from, but other than that it's a neat track to go to but it's not a Bristol or Daytona -- the tracks you look up to and that have been around for a long time. A lot of tracks that have been around for a long time and as a guy from the west coast you haven't seen a lot of them. It's neat to be able to race at them now, but I enjoy Fontana also."