An unterview with: Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski
THE MODERATOR: We now will bring in our second and third place and new points leader following the Kansas Speedway Hollywood Casino 400. We welcome first Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, who finished second in today's race, in addition to Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, who finished third in today's race, and Carl Edwards, who is our new points leader by one point over Kevin Harvick going into Charlotte next week.
Kasey, talk about the race today.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it was a good race. We had a good Red Bull car, came in third that first stop and the jack broke, so we had to get a new jack and came out dead last and just kind of battled our way back up through there the rest of the race and made the right adjustments. At times we were really loose and then a little bit too tight. We were pretty good there at the end. We got on the right, we took four tires, started 12th, got to second there, and then on that restart Brad gave me a nice push -- coming on the restart Brad gave me a good push, and I had a shot at Jimmie, I just couldn't really get to him. I thought maybe getting to 3 I would go high, and he kind of entered into the middle and then just creeped his way to the top and just really didn't have a shot there at him.
But I think we had a good Red Bull car. The guys did a nice job today.
THE MODERATOR: Brad, we'll start with you again. Talk about your third-place finish today. You also are now fourth in points, 11 points behind leader Carl Edwards. Talk about the Chase thus far.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Sure. Another solid day for us thus far. Makes you kick yourself that last week at Dover we had troubles we did because we've had top 5 cars each and every week, we're executing very well as a group and as a team. Just the things that we can control we're doing very well. So I'm proud of everything and proud of our efforts.
We were about a third- or fifth-place car today and brought home a third, so proud of that effort. Kasey looked really good there at the end, and I told Roger Penske to check the 22 car from yesterday because I'm pretty sure Jimmie stole the car and put new decals on it because he was gone. He was fast.
Just proud of the effort and proud that we were able to get a solid run out of it again. Just wish I could have beaten Jimmie, but he just had a little more in the tank than we did, and we gave it our best effort.
THE MODERATOR: Carl, talk about being the new points leader, one point over Kevin Harvick. How do you feel heading into Charlotte next week?
CARL EDWARDS: I feel grateful. That was very, very bad at the beginning of that race, and I cannot thank my guys enough for sticking with it and working hard the whole day. I cannot believe we finished fifth. It feels like a win. That's the best we've done with the worst -- the most we've done with a car that wasn't capable of winning ever, so I'm really proud of my guys who made good adjustments. Just I cannot believe from the way the day started, to finish like that is spectacular.
Q. Carl, what was the trouble with the car? I mean, you're running 20th most of the race, and what adjustments did you take particularly late in the race to allow you to surge up?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, there's two things that happened. We had the wrong front suspension settings in the car. Bob and I together in practice, we prepared the wrong setup, and they dropped the green and I realized we were in deep trouble. So Bob made adjustments to the setup, made some bigger adjustments than we would normally make, and then we were very fortunate with the late race caution and being able to get two tires and have a shot to run up there through the traffic. We were very, very fortunate, and I'm extremely grateful. I do not deserve to be sitting up here. We should have finished 15th or 20th, so it all worked out in our favor.
Q. Carl, last week the momentum swing was a little bit self-inflicted, not so much the car, but just purely looking at the car, can you remember in your career a change in momentum so fast for you?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that was pretty bad. I thought we were going to run a lot better. But it's not the car. I mean, we made the decisions to put the setup in it that we did. Matt was very fast, Greg was fast. It's our fault as a group. It's just that usually for us when we make those bad decisions we can't recover like we did today. That's what I'm really grateful for. That was amazing.
Q. For any or all of you, before Landon Cassill's spin it looked like it was going to be another fuel race. I was wondering how you guys felt when there was an opportunity for a win in Kasey's situation, or to move up in points, does that put you in a new gear or something when that spin came out and gave you a chance to go for the win?
CARL EDWARDS: Was there a fuel mileage issue?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think everyone was good on fuel at that point, at least as far as I know.
KASEY KAHNE: We were probably the worst on fuel as far as mileage goes, and we were even all right today. So I think everybody else -- I would imagine everybody was if we were good.
CARL EDWARDS: We probably would have run out of fuel just the way ours was going.
KASEY KAHNE: Carl probably would have ran out first and I would have ran out second. Brad probably would have won.
Q. Two questions for Kasey: First of all, you guys seem to be running better and building consistency as your time with this team gets closer to the end. Is there anything bittersweet about that?
KASEY KAHNE: The biggest thing to me would be to leave on a good note. There's a lot of people there working really hard and unsure about maybe their future and where they're going to work next year, and they're still putting everything they have into our race cars each week. That's pretty awesome on their part. Kenny Francis is doing -- just always is looking, him and Keith Rodman, they're always looking to make the car just a little bit better, how can I do this, how can I do that, so we're always working together trying to do that. I'm fortunate to go with him next year, so we're working on things for next year as well as just trying to finish strong this year.
Q. To follow that up, you've been through so much change over the last 13 months or so. Do you ever wonder what you might be capable of in a situation that's stable for a couple years with the same people around you like you're going to be going into?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know. I feel like at times when things are going smoothly and we're making the right decisions as a -- communicating the right way between our group, we're capable of winning races. Hopefully we have more of that as the future goes on. I think I've learned a lot over the years, so hopefully next year and the next few years after that we'll be in a better spot than I've been.
Q. Brad, you seem to own this track. You won yesterday and you won in June, third today. Are you going to be sorry to see them tear this track up?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I think everybody is going to be. I talked to some of the guys from the track last night, and sometimes they have to tear them up because of the weather. All these tracks in the Midwest, whether it's Michigan, Kentucky or Kansas that go through all that frost cycling or whatever they call it, I'm sure there's some technical term for it, I don't know, but they all go through that with the winters and the springs and so forth where they frost and dethaw and frost and dethaw and it just kills this track. There's big potholes that I guess they're having trouble keeping down, and nobody wants to see us have another incident like we did at Daytona.
You know, it is tough. It's unfortunate when tracks have to do that. I hope that the technology is developed, or maybe it does exist, to build tracks that can hold up a little bit longer so we can use these tracks further and further and further because I think we see better racing as the tracks get older, and I think this track in particular has become very racy. I think there's as much side-by-side racing as you're going to see in this style of race car here at Kansas. I think it's bittersweet not just for me but for everyone in the sport.
Hopefully when they do go through that process they'll be able to get the track to cure very quickly to where it opens up and we can run those multiple lanes and put on a great show.
Q. What is it you like about this place?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You know, I think it's like anywhere else. You go to tracks, and some tracks you just pick them up real quick and you get a feel for them, and some tracks you get a good car and you learn and define what you need to run well there, and I've been very fortunate over the last few years to have very good cars here and picked up on this place.
Q. For Carl, you talked about knowing you had the wrong setup. What was the moment early in the race? Was there one moment when you knew this thing is not set up right?
CARL EDWARDS: I had a hint of it the first corner, drove down in the first corner, and I was like, Man, this is not good. I thought, well, maybe it'll be better next lap, and then it wasn't. I'd say the second lap I realized that we were in a little bit of trouble. That's the worst the car has felt in a race for a long time.
Q. Do you need a little luck to win the Chase, and do you think that maybe -- if you somehow pull this out you'll look back on today and think, Wow, we got really lucky today, that was the key moment in us winning a championship?
CARL EDWARDS: I feel like we've had two weeks with very lucky breaks, this week and last week, to be able to come back from a bad position on the racetrack. But there is still so much racing left. It feels -- we've run four races, it feels like we've run 400. There's a lot that can happen in the next six races. You know, I have a feeling there will be more moments that define this championship. All the way up until the last lap at Homestead I think you have to be on your game.
Q. Carl, when you were back a lap down, did you start scoreboard watching at all to see where the guys in the Chase were, and then at the end can you talk about how important was it just to get by Harvick considering that was the guy you were tied with at the beginning of the day?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, they need to put that scoreboard somewhere where it's easier to see. It's so hard. You're about to run into a fence trying to look at that thing off of turn 2. So I watched as best I could.
Yeah, you can't really focus too much on that. You've got to run your own race as painful as it is. But that last pass of Kevin, that meant a lot. We both knew it, too. We both knew since we were tied whoever finished first would be ahead one point. That was good that we were able to do that. It'll be nice this week for the guys and everybody at the shop to be leading the points, even though it doesn't mean much. We just talked about Brad being 11 points back. That can change in a heartbeat.
Q. The prevailing logic going into the Chase is that you're a newcomer, you would undoubtedly botch things, that the pressure would get to you down the stretch, but yet the kind of stunt that Carl pulled today, throughout the Chase, you've managed usually to be at your best near the end and to get yourself to the highest position and put yourself in position to be up front. Is this more because you've got nothing to lose, because you and Paul think clearly? You certainly -- it doesn't appear as though the pressure has had any effect on your performance or lack of experience.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what the question is there.
Q. What is the reason why -- why, is it because you don't have anything to lose? Is it because you think clearly? What is the reason you've been able to do so well near the end of the races?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I was just going to take that whole thing as a compliment.
You know, there's a lot of different reasons, and I think it all comes back to just having a good team. Good teams have good cars; they're best at their end and fastest at their end. They use good pit strategy and stay strong through adversity, and I feel like I just have a really good team, and I guess it's hard to define what makes a good team and a bad team do those things.
You know, last year we weren't a good team. We were always our worst at the end, and that's not what it takes. And I don't know why that was, but that's just the way it kind of works out sometimes. This year it seems like as a group we're just clicking. It really hurts after last week because I felt like this is the only week we've had that was a bad finish, and something happened that was outside of their control.
Sometimes that's the way it goes, and we're doing a good job of maximizing our day and taking care of everything that's in our control, and I'm really proud of our team for doing that.
Q. For both Brad and Carl, I know you guys don't count him out, but there was a lot of talk about Jimmie Johnson two races ago being 10th in points. He wins today on the mile and a half track, there's more mile and a halfs coming up. He was so dominant today. Can you both of you guys talk about does it just sort of reaffirm that this guy is going to be there all the way to the end going for a sixth title?
CARL EDWARDS: I think he should just pack it up. It's over. He's too far back. (Laughter.) I don't know. He's going to be tough, I think.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, certainly he's going to be tough. The real question is we've got two big wild card races with Phoenix and Talladega, and I don't think you can rule anyone in or out until those two races are over and we get to Homestead.
Q. For Carl, considering how bad you guys were at the start of the race and the fact that you came back, do you have any concerns going into Charlotte next week, another intermediate track, and if so, did you learn something in those closing laps that will help you next Saturday?
CARL EDWARDS: That's the first thing Bob and I talked about when he got over the car is making sure we did not make the same type of mistake at Charlotte. That place has been a little bit difficult for us. We've been very hit and miss there, but I do feel like our run in the All-Star Race and the 600 earlier this year will be something we can build on. We've got a baseline strategy with the setup, and we'll go use that, and hopefully it'll work out better than today's setup.
Q. Will you be testing with Hendrick during the fuel injection test, and if so, will Kenny Francis be your crew chief for that test?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I'm driving the 5 at the fuel injection test on Monday after Charlotte but it's with the 5 team. It's with the team that I have now.
Q. You touched on this a little bit, but even though you guys struggled, what do you think it says about your team as a whole that you were able to come back from a 15th or 20th place car and finish in the top 5?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, first we're lucky because we had to have luck go our way. We had two cautions that were timed perfectly, so that was a big deal. But we've messed up enough in the past that I'm pretty proud of our ability to just kind of take our bad days and just keep plugging along. You know, we've messed up some races and some points races in the past, and I believe we've learned from that. So it's kind of a little test when you go through something like this to see if somebody melts down or if you can kind of keep going through it, and I'm glad it worked out today, but there was a lot of luck involved, as well.
Q. Just put us in your seat for that last green-white checkered. What did you see with Jimmie? Did you really think you could get him?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I thought if I could get a good restart I'd have a shot because my tires were a little fresher than his. Jimmie was the car to beat all day that I could tell, so I knew he was going to be fast once we got going, and he actually just jumped -- like he took off before I expected him to, so I just was thinking it was going to be a little bit later, and when he took off I kind of jumped it and hit the throttle maybe a little too aggressively, spun the tires and then got them back and was accelerating, and Brad had a good start behind me and was pushing me at the same time because we weren't to the line yet, so he pushed me, and it ended up working out all right as far as being in the second place, but I didn't have a shot at all when I got to turn 1. He had a car length on me. So at that point I just tried to build a couple corners, and I got to him getting to 3 on the final corner, and that's when he just kind of went across and I just never really got it to turn.