Michigan: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) KAHNE IS THE DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENT BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR? "The biggest thing last year we came here with some wins already, and we knew we were going to be...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

KAHNE IS THE DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENT BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR? "The biggest thing last year we came here with some wins already, and we knew we were going to be strong. This year we know we can be strong, but we haven't been that fast on some of these type tracks yet. At California we were decent, before we had that problem. We made a couple of changes this week and hope they work. We're doing all we can to try to figure out how to run up front again."

COULD THIS BE A TURNING POINT FOR YOUR SEASON CONSIDERING YOUR SUCCESS AT THIS TRACK? "I think it definitely could be. You've got a track I've finished top five at least four times, maybe five. That keeps you going. You know you can run well here. There's a lot of room to race, a lot of room to pass, and I think we can have a good shot this weekend."

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GO FAST AT MIS? "Momentum, being able to search around and find places that your car works better than other places, just both of those things are things that make me go fast. I've always been able to find speed when you can look around and search for the best spot for your car and just keep working on it, try to make it handle the way it's best. It would be great to run up front and win a race, qualify up front. It would be great. We'll see if it happens and see how the weekend goes."

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO JUNIOR SIGNING WITH HENDRICK? "It's just silly season. I guess that's what they call it, and it's about what it is. It's probably the silliest one yet with all that stuff going on, two really good drivers going to different places. It opens a lot of doors for at least one of them. I don't think the Hendrick cars ever really had a problem finding sponsors and making their teams go fast with what they have, but signing Junior helps. It gives them more support and that's a big deal. They're the team for sure. We're going to do everything we can to keep up with them and bring Dodge's stuff up to where they are."

DO YOU THINK THE 2008 HENDRICK LINEUP WILL HURT THE SPORT? "I don't think it'll hurt it at all. I don't see why it would. I think they're going to have three really good drivers and a fourth one with Mears. It's not going to ruin our sport. If anything, it's going to make them a little stronger than they are now. They're already really strong. They're already the team to shoot for. It's not much different for me. We're just going to have to step our program up next year and find the resources and the right partners and sponsors to make our deal go."

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN HERE SUNDAY? "It'll take a good day tomorrow, having some real good practices today and tomorrow and being ready when it goes green, having a car that turns well and gets into the racetrack and can race. From there you work on it and try to make the right adjustments and stay toward the front, but it all starts tomorrow."

HOW'S YOUR CONFIDENCE? "I know we're fast or can be fast if things work out the way we want them to. I'm definitely confident. We're ready to win, ready to run up front. Last week we struggled a bit. We qualified well for when we went out and then struggled in the race. We can do it."

DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF ADJUSTMENTS HERE LAST YEAR DURING THE RACE? "Last year we had a really good car when it went green. We made a couple of small adjustments and that was it. It was very fine tuning, and that's the way you win races. When you start the race on Sunday you're really close and that's how we were last year."

COMMENT ON FATHER'S DAY MEMORIES AT THE TRACK "He took us to a bunch of races, whether it was sprint cars or mini-sprints. That's where I started. Just growing up around him, learning how to work on cars, learning how to use a wrench and tighten the bolts. He was here last year for my first win at Michigan. That's the first time he saw me when in Cup, but I have a lot of good memories with my dad racing. Not just racing, but going on vacations to Canada fishing and to other states racing. We went all over racing and those were good times."

COMMENT ON YOUR SPRINT CAR TEAM AND DRIVER JOEY SALDANA "He's just got to be a little more consistent. As consistent as he's been, the guy leading the points (Donny Schatz) has been a little more consistent. (Saldana trails Schatz by 54 points after 31 races. Both have seven wins, but Schatz has 28 top 10's to Saldana's 25. Some of the things that have happened to Joey haven't been his fault, and some of the things that have happened to the leader hasn't' been his fault. It's just really close. It's hard to make up 30 points when they both run second and third or first and second every weekend. I love it. Tomorrow is the last tuneup before the Knoxville Nationals in August. It's the last time they go to Knoxville, so it'll be a really good race for them to run well and figure some things out. I like feeling like a car owner and being part of it and calling the guys and seeing how they're doing and talking about making things better and trying to make things better all the time."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Donny Schatz