KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON RACING AT LAS VEGAS "I always enjoy racing on the west coast, racing at Las Vegas, the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is one of our sponsors and it would be great to win. I love coming out here racing. We've had some good results a lot of the times we've raced out here. Hopefully we can have another one this weekend. We had two good tests with the Busch car and the Cup car. I feel like we've got two chances to get good, solid finishes out of both cars."
IS THE CHARGER BETTER THAN LAST YEAR? "Everybody at Evernham Motorsports has done a great job trying to make it not such a tough racecar to drive, and it's better. It's not a whole lot better. It's real similar to what it was last year. They've made some changes that have helped a little bit. That's good. I have a great race team, and I feel like that alone will get us some good results this year with dedication and hard work that these guys have each week. Putting that together and a little bit of a gain with the Charger, hopefully we can have a good year. It's still a sensitive racecar, especially in traffic and especially with changes throughout a race."
DO YOU THINK YOU'RE AT A HANDICAP TO THE FORDS AND CHEVYS? "I think it's more of a sensitive car. You can make a little change and it'll totally hurt you here and help you a little bit there. In the past it seems like they haven't been like that. In order for the Roush cars and Hendrick cars to run like they do every single week, there's no way around such a fine line with the Dodges. There's too many great Dodge teams, owners, drivers, sponsors to have their cars not as consistent as those other cars are. That's just the way I feel."
WHERE IS THE CAR SENSITIVE? "It's really back in the pack. When you get fifth on back, it's really different. We can practice all day long, every day of the week and feel like we've got a good setup and we get out there with a bunch of cars and it's a completely new racecar. I think a lot of cars are like that. All the manufacturers and all the teams are like that right now with the tire and spoiler and the way everything is in the sport, but I think ours is just a finer line than the other ones."
DID YOU CONSIDER RUNNING THE '04 DODGE? "I think we looked at it and considered it. As of right now, there's really no reason why... What's better about that car? We're a Dodge team. We're the Dodge Dealers Dodge Charger and we want to make them sell more Dodge Chargers. We'll try to work as hard on our Dodge Charger as we can and make it the best car for Dodge. That's why we're sticking with it. That's why we need to stick with it and try to keep working on it and make it better."
WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THE DODGE TEST? "It got snowed out once and we haven't been able to set it up again. I don't know if it's going to happen now or not. I still know we have three really good race teams and they're all using different cars. That's not helping. You've got three really good Ford and Chevrolet teams over there and they're all using the same cars and making them better each week. With us, it's hard to do that. It's hard to work with other teams. It seems like everybody is on their own and I wish Dodge would make it so we ran just one car, no matter which one it was. I don't know which one is better. I'm up for doing which ever car makes the most sense."
IS IT DIFFICULT RACING AGAINST THE VETERANS? "It's about how your car handles and how you work with your team and then just gain the respect of the other guys. The only way you gain respect is respect them and the way they race and they'll respect the way you race. I think that's the best way to race and know they're going to race you the same way you race them."
COMMENT ON STRONG 2006 ROOKIE CLASS "I think it steps up every year. They keep finding more and more young, very good racecar drivers. It's definitely a series you need to stay focused on and stay focused on what you want to do. If you want to stay in this series for awhile and still be competitive in five or 10 years, you've got to work hard to be able to do that, especially with all the new drivers and teams."
IS IT JUST HARD WORK THAT HAS THE THREE DODGE TEAMS OFF TO A GOOD START THIS YEAR? "It's huge. I know our team has been very consistent. Casey Mears was in the top 15 throughout the race in California and ended up seventh. He had a great last two laps. That really helped him. Ryan Newman didn't look as good last week. Actually, the Dodge Charger is the best Dodge we've had at Daytona. I would say every team agrees with that. That's why they all run it. It's the mile and a half and two-mile tracks where you're going to find you're not real sure which car is better and you don't know which car to run."
HAVE NASCAR RULES FORCED YOU TO CHANGE YOUR DRIVING STYLE? "Definitely. You have to try to figure out how to make things work with the tires and spoiler and the way the car is handling. Last year I struggled pretty bad trying to do that. This year I think I have a better idea of what I need to do. You have to keep your eyes open and try to learn each week because the cars are probably the hardest racecars I've ever driven."