KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne, a three-time winner in 2006, ranks sixth in the series standings. He's just three points behind fifth-place Tony Stewart and 14 points out of fourth place. It's been a great...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne, a three-time winner in 2006, ranks sixth in the series standings. He's just three points behind fifth-place Tony Stewart and 14 points out of fourth place.
It's been a great start to the season. Everybody is doing an awesome job on our Dodge Dealers team. We're having a lot of fun. We've just got to keep it up. Pocono is a tough track. It's tough qualifying, but I've always enjoyed it. It's a long race, but it's fun. I've always enjoyed the three corners, trying to figure each on out and just working on the car and making it as good as we can. It should be a lot of fun. I don't know if it's fun for the fans to watch on TV, but it's really cool to drive it."
WHAT'S BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR SEASON SO FAR?
"Kenny Francis has built an awesome team that's been together for a long time, and I'm just fortunate to be able to drive for those guys. It's a great group of guys, and they prepare awesome cars."
IS ONE RACE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE OTHER?
"They're all pretty important. We need to get points. We need to be very consistent and get points every week and stay in that top 10. That's what we've been doing, so we've just got to keep it up, but every race is very important."
COMMENT ON NOT SHIFTING AT POCONO
"I think it hurt our team a little bit. I think we were a little bit better when we were shifting. I'd rather shift. I'd rather have the gears where you could shift, but right now you just can't. You're going way too slow. It just wouldn't make sense to shift."
COMMENT ON RACING AT POCONO
"I like the track. The fans are always great here. Each corner is so much different. You try to make the car work for that corner and keep it fast. It's fun to work on all that. Getting off turn three and turn one is important. If you can get through there I think you can get through the backstretch deal pretty quick. The biggest problem is three."
IS IT IMPORTANT TO QUALIFY WELL HERE?
"It would be great to get the pole, but if you can't win the pole it's not that crucial. The pit stalls are big here. There's lot of room on pit road and it's definitely not as big of a deal as a lot of the other tracks. I always enjoy coming here. I didn't like it as much in 2004 as I did in 2005. I'm really looking forward to it this weekend. It should be fun."
WOULD YOU LIKE FOR THE RACE TO BE SHORTER?
"I wouldn't care too much. It doesn't really matter to me."
WOULD YOU LIKE MORE NIGHT RACES IN THE SUMMER?
"Night racing is fun. We just had a little stretch of 'em, and it's always good to get back to the day races. If we could get a few more night races toward the end of the year it would be fine, but I don't really care. I think night racing is a little more exciting for the fans watching on TV."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE ROAD COURSE RACES?
"I wouldn't mind adding one to The Chase. I like the way the schedule is set up now, but if there was one in The Chase that would be fine."
CHARLOTTE AND DOVER WERE LONG RACES. DOES POCONO HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE A LONG ONE, TOO?
"It always seems like a long race to me. We've got three straight weeks of long races, and we got top 10s in the last two. I hope we can keep it up. We've got some good momentum on our side. The team is doing a great job and we just need to keep it up and keep bringing the car home in one piece."
YOU'VE GOT THE TRACK QUALIFYING RECORD AT POCONO. DO YOU SEE IF FALLING TODAY?
"I don't think it will fall. I don't see why it would. It was a pretty good lap that year, and the tires are probably harder now. The track has slowed down a little."
WILL YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN THE NEXT 13 RACES LEADING UP TO THE CHASE?
"It'll be just business as usual. We'll do everything we can to have good days. We need top 10s and we need to stay up there in the points. I'm real happy with where we're at right now. I'd like to be further forward, but some races have held us back. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing. We're not that far out of the top five. I'm real happy with what's going on, and we just need to keep going."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"I've run well and I've run bad here, too, so I know both sides of the coin. Pocono has always been a real good place for me. There's a lot of room to race and a lot of things going on. I remember when we used to shift, it was a lot better. There was a lot of stuff going on then, too .It's the kind of place you like if you adapt to it early on."
DO YOU TRY TO GET THE CAR WORKING WELL IN TWO OUT OF THREE CORNERS HERE?
"Pretty much. You have to get through turn three good to get a run down the straightaway. You've got to get through turn one, and you really need to get through the tunnel turn, so it's all three now. Everybody gets a good run going down the straightaway and there's a lot of passing in turn one. You see passes everywhere. No one ever passed in the tunnel turn and now you see a lot of passing there. It changes over the years. It's not like it used to be."
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC COMING INTO POCONO?
"Yes, and I think we've had good runs in the past two races. You always think when you have a good run in practice or qualifying or whatever that you're going to be all right, and I really feel that way. We just had a rough start and got beat up a little bit, but I think we can come back strong. I think we can get it turned around. We're not running where we need to be yet, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. I remember earlier in the year when we thought we had light at the end of the tunnel it would be a freight train headed our way."
IS THAT FACT THAT YOU'VE WON HERE A FACTOR?
"It's just week to week these days. I don't even think about it (having won here) when I come here. The setup we won with here a long time ago probably wouldn't even get you in the top 50 now. Things are changing every day in the sport. You've got to come here open minded. You can't come here thinking about what you've done here in the past."
IS POCONO A UNIQUE TRACK?
"This track has a little bit of everything. If doesn't have any high banking, but you've got long straightaways with a lot of speed. You've got a little bit of Indy here, but it's a little rougher than Indy. You find a little bit of something everywhere."
YOU WON A FUEL MILEAGE RACE LAST YEAR AT MICHIGAN. DOES THAT MINIMIZE THE WIN?
"If that's the case Ryan Newman hasn't won a race yet because he won a lot of them on fuel mileage. We don't care. We took a chance. We won the race. We played by the rules and we ran the car like we needed to run it. I saved gas and the guys calculated the mileage. Those other guys had to pit. If we hadn't been saving gas and we had riched our carburetors up and had been making the most power we could run we probably could have run up front all day, too, like they did a run out at the end, but we were smarter than that. We knew Michigan was a fuel mileage track. Everybody knows that going in. If you don't plan your fuel mileage there, you're not playing the game very well. If the other guys play it like we did last year this time around, then we'll go opposite and go for power and hope the cautions don't go their way. It's just a chess game all the time."
DO RUMORS DISTRACT YOU?
"If I was a younger driver and had never been through it it would be pretty tough, but I've been through it before. I don't really pay attention to it anymore. I just do what's best and do what's right. I stay focused and do the best we can as a team and get better every week. Whatever happens then happens, and I know I've done all I can do. You do the best you can every week, and if that's not good enough or if we can't get the job done, in two or three years we might have to do something different. Right now I've got a contract with Ray through this year and next year and hopefully two more years after that. That's what my intentions are, to finish this deal out and do the best we can. I know a lot of stuff is going on right now in the rumors about different drivers but hopefully we're not one of them."
WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH YOUR TEAMMATES?
"I've got a good relationship. We joke around and cut up. I have no problems here, not unless there's one I don't know about. Right now I think everything is going good. While we're down people will wear you out, but there's nothing to really figure out. We just need to race and do the best we can."
COMMENT ON SCOTT RIGGS AND THE THIRD EVERNHAM TEAM THIS SEASON
"I think Scott is a great guy. That team has done a real good job falling in place from scratch. I think we welcomed him to our team, and it feels like he's been here forever. The communication between teams is better than it's ever been. You can always make things better, but that's one of our strong points, the way our teams communicate with each other. That's one of the strong points of our team."