Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, May 17, Richmond Recap, Charlotte KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) Note: Kahne, a 25-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., scored his first career Cup victory Saturday night at ...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, May 17,
Richmond Recap, Charlotte
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
Note: Kahne, a 25-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., scored his first career Cup victory Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. It was also the first Cup triumph for the 2006 Dodge Charger and the first win for the Charger since Neil Bonnett won in Ontario, Calif., in 1977. Kahne has scored four top-five finishes in the past eight races and moved from 38th to 15th in the series standings. He led a race-high 242 laps of 400 Saturday night en route to a 1.674-second victory over Tony Stewart. He's won two straight Cup poles and has finished third and first in the past two events, moving from 22nd to 15th in the standings, 83 points out of 10th place with 15 races remaining to qualify for The Chase.
WHY ARE YOU IN WASHINGTON, D.C.? "I'm up here for a tetanus awareness program to let people know and remind them that you need to get your tetanus shot every 10 years whether you're a kid or an adult. A lot of adults over the age of 20 kind of forget about it. It's good to remind everybody so you don't have to go through anything bad that has to do with tetanus."
WHAT KIND OF SHOT DID YOU GET SATURDAY NIGHT AT RICHMOND? "I don't know what it was, but I need to get another one. It was good. We had a lot of fun to get our first win. The team and everybody did a perfect job all night long and all weekend long really. Everything went right. Everything went our way. Everything stands out to me. I remember every part of it. It was pretty cool, but the best part I thought was when I drove into victory lane and all the guys were all smiles and happy. Ray and Tommy were in the middle and everybody was so pumped up. They had worked so hard and tried so hard to win races for us and we finally got it done."
COMMENT ON WHAT YOUR FAMILY HAS MEANT TO YOUR CAREER "I would have loved to have my mom and dad at the race, but neither of them were there. They were both watching at home, and they were both happy as can be, and I think that's great. Hopefully they'll be at the next one or the third one. It's tough. They've tried to come to a lot of races. It's tough to pick which race we're going to win. There's a few they've both been to I should have won and I didn't."
DOES GETTING FIRST WIN MAKE UP FOR ALL THE NEAR WINS? "It all felt so much better when I finally did get it. If I had won at Rockingham last year, that second race, it would have been awesome to win a Nextel Cup race, and I would have been excited. But there is nothing like winning Richmond. Richmond is a tough track and everything went our way that night. A year and a half and we had been so close, but to win felt that much better."
COMMENT ON BEATING TONY STEWART AND DO YOU THINK THE SECOND WIN WILL BE EASIER THAN THE FIRST ONE? "To race against Tony all night and we exchanged the lead between each other like eight times, I really don't remember how many. I know it was a lot. It was fun to follow him and have him following me and just be racing all night. I enjoyed it. It was Tony. About the second win, I certainly hope it comes quicker than the first one."
WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS SAY WHEN YOU FIRST TALKED TO THEM? "It went good. I called them both as soon as I could. It took forever doing interviews and things, but once I had my first opportunity to call them I did. They were both really excited and happy and probably relieved that it finally happened. I was excited to talk to them. It was pretty cool. I thanked them for everything they had done for me."
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL LOOK AT LIFE DIFFERENTLY NOW? "I think the only thing that's going to change is when I show up at the racetrack I know I've won a Nextel Cup race and know we can do it as a team. Other than that nothing's changed. I'm excited. I'm happy we did it. I look forward to the all-star race this weekend and the 600 after that."
ANY WASHINGTON STATE APPPEARANCES PLANNED? "The way things are going if I get a couple more wins or keep running up front I'm going to have to probably come out there and see some of my friends and fans and everybody that supports me. It would be great to come home and visit. I don't have anything planned right now, but definitely would love to pretty soon."
COMMENT ON TOMMY BALDWIN'S STYLE AND HOW MUCH CREDIT DO YOU GIVE HIM FOR THE WIN "I give him credit for everything, him and that whole team. Tommy has done an awesome job with them. We've had our struggles. Three or four weeks ago people thought Tommy and I were mad at each other and we really weren't. I was mad at the time a little bit, but not at Tommy, just at the situation. He's worked very hard for me and I try to work very hard for him. He did a great job on calling the race, and the car was never worse throughout the whole race. On every stop it got better. That was the key. The final stop of the night, that's the best the car had turned all night long. That was why we kept driving away."
COMMENT ON PIT CREW "They stepped it up, too. It's tough to have that many good pit stops in a row and they were able to do it. I was pretty excited for them to be able to do that. We had a couple of new guys on the team that stepped up, that hadn't been doing that and jumped right in. We got a third and first in two weeks. They did an excellent job and the guys that have been there awhile did an excellent job, too. I'm excited for them to go down Thursday night and watch and cheer them on. Hopefully they'll be able to win that Nextel pit crew competition Thursday night."
DO YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENT AFTER GETTING THAT FIRST WIN? "I just feel a little happier. I feel like I'm smiling a little more than I have been in the past six months. That's about it."
WHO DO YOU HANG OUT WITH IN THE GARAGE? "When I do get time, it's probably Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson. I like Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon, Mayfield, McMurray, Elliott Sadler. There's a lot of guys I like and hang out with a little bit, Dale Jr., but probably Jimmie and Casey Mears. We're just about the same age and kinda like the same things. Casey and I get along pretty good when we're away from the track."
WHAT'S THE BIG NEWS OF THE SEASON SO FAR? "Probably how hard as a team we've had to work to get where we need to be. It hasn't been quite as easy as we expected. We went into the season expecting, feeling like our Dodge Charger was the best car and we were going to be right at the top right off from the first race. It took a little bit, but we're getting there. Last year everything was easy from the start of the year and went really well. This year we had to work hard to get back where we needed to be. I'm pretty sure we're right there now."
IS THIS GOING TO BE A DOGFIGHT DOWN TO THE 26TH RACE? "The way it ended up last year four or five cars had a shot at it. I don't see there being any more than that, but I don't see any less than that, either. It's going to be real similar. These cars are a little bit tougher to drive this year with some of the things NASCAR did. It's just tougher to race side by side with people and I think it's going to create for some weird things to happen at different points in the season and it'll keep a lot of people in the points."
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL THAT ALMOST EVERYONE IN GARAGE WAS HAPPY TO SEE YOU WIN YOUR FIRST RACE? "It makes me feel really, really good to know that the other drivers out there do all they can to beat me or beat anybody every race. They're not happy I won, but definitely somewhat pleased probably that we finally got it done. I've tried to respect all those guys. I tried to respect them if we were running good or bad. It paid off."
YOU EARNED A SPOT IN THE NEXTEL ALL-STAR RACE. IS THAT SPECIAL TO YOU? "Yes, that's special for me for no other reason than to be in the all-star race and have a chance at the million dollars and put a great race on for the fans and to give my team a shot to have a pit stop Friday night and start first in the all-star race. It's so cool how they do that. It gets everybody on the team a shot at it, and I'm pretty excited we were able to get in it and have a shot at the pit stop deal."
WHAT DOES THE 'ROCK STAR STATUS' FEEL LIKE? "It's different. I don't know what it feels like. It's just different. I'm getting more and more used to it. That was a pretty good looking girl and there were a lot of cameras around, so I didn't know what to do."
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO KEEP YOUR PROFESSIONAL COMPOSURE? "I don't know how I did that. I was pretty surprised I was able to get the sponsors out and remember some of the people I was able to remember. I think it's been coming for so long, and I really do thank those people and appreciate the sponsors at Evernham Motorsports. I appreciate Ray and my parents and grandparents and all that stuff. It just kind of came out."
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH A MILLION DOLLARS? "I don't know what I'd do with it. I'd love to get it. I'd probably go buy a house. I'm still living in my apartment I got three and a half years ago when I moved to Charlotte. If I won that money, I'd definitely go buy a house."
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT A NASCAR RACE IN SEATTLE AREA? "I think just the year we had last year and the year we started with this year, if we can keep on and win races it'll help a lot of things out in Seattle with building that racetrack. I think that would be a good thing to do if they can keep the people and taxpayers happy, I think it would be great."
DO PEOPLE OUT THERE TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT? "They have, and I talk to a lot of people about it out there, their different opinions on the way it might have been approached the first time and where it was going to be and who was paying for it. I've heard a lot of different stuff on it. I really don't know the right way, but I know it would be awesome if they could get a track out there."