Sears Point: Dodge driver interviews

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne and Glaceau unveiled his own No. 9 vitaminwater (dragonfruit) power-c bottle Friday morning at Infineon Raceway. "If you look in all our victory lane photos...

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

NOTE: Kahne and Glaceau unveiled his own No. 9 vitaminwater (dragonfruit) power-c bottle Friday morning at Infineon Raceway.

"If you look in all our victory lane photos there's vitaminwater everywhere. We'll definitely need it here. It's not the longest race, but there's a lot going on inside the racecar. I have a vitaminwater drink bottle beside my seat, so if it gets warm during the race they'll hand me a new bottle on every pit stop. I don't know how many pit stops we'll have here. It's more of a strategy race at times, so probably we'll probably have three or four bottles throughout the race. If it's under green you're obviously not going to be drinking, so under caution we'll be sucking down the vitaminwater and staying hydrated. I use the stuff all the time. I do a lot of running. I was out running in 95-degree weather this week in Charlotte and it's humid. I drink it there, too."

HOW WILL THE HEAT AFFECT THE RACE? "The track is hot and your tires will be hot and your car is going to slide around more. That's where it's going to be excit5ing. You just have to figure it out. We've got a couple of practices today and tomorrow to get ready for Sunday. It should be a good race. I enjoy road racing. We don't have results to show that, but last year we were running decent and broke a brake line. We have a lot better cars and strategies than the results have shown in past years."

DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT ATTITUDE ENTERING A ROAD COURSE RACE? "I try to drive as smart as possible. If there's a guy behind you, you have to watch for other guys. There's a lot going on. It's hard to pass people and move them out of your way. You have to think about that. If I catch a car and work on him and work on him and work on him, and I know I can get by him, I give him a tap and get him out of the way and go on. You have to think about that if somebody catches you from behind, too. You have to keep your car on course. You have to be aggressive, but you have to keep up with what's going on around you, too."

HAS YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT ROAD RACING CHANGED? "I still have the same attitude. I really liked it. I don't have a whole lot of results to show that, but I like the racing. You just have to keep your eyes open. I like the two races a year. I wouldn't care if there were three races a year."

COMMENT ON PEOPLE MAGAZINE ARTICLE "I don't see people not taking me serious. I'm about as serious a driver as you'll see around here during practice. A lot of times people will ask why I'm not happy or why I'm not smiling. I tell 'em I'm focused right now. I'm not here to smile at you. The People Magazine article is great. I wouldn't want it to be any other way."

COMMENT ON WORKING WITH BORIS SAID "We have two seaters, so we'd go out with him and watch his feet and hands. Then he rode with me. We tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway near Richmond), and you can't set up your car there and then come here and expect to go fast, but you can learn a lot there as a driver. That's basically what we did. We've got a different setup here. Jeremy has always run pretty good here. He stays on the road and waited through the race and usually gets pretty good finishes. Everywhere we've gone this year with Kenny (team director Francis) the cars have felt better than they did in the past. I think it'll be that way again here this weekend."

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM BORIS? "The main thing was I need to be more aggressive. Boris told me everything I'm doing is super smooth, but you've got to get in the corners faster and get back in the throttle faster and be wide open more. His car was jumping around, moving around, doing a lot more stuff than my stuff. You can't race like that on an oval. You've got your car set up so loose and so on edge, if you're like that you're going to crash. I think being smooth helps me on the ovals because I can run a loose car and run a car that turns really well. On the road courses I need to change. I like coming out here, but I'm not super excited to be out here. It's not like the Brickyard 400 or something. Still, it's a great racetrack and I enjoy coming out here. If I could win a race here, then I'd love to come out here. Now, I feel like it's a track where I could lose a lot if I don't do what I need to do on Sunday."

WHO ARE THE FAVORITES HERE? "Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Mark Martin, you've got four or five that can go out there and win at any time on these tracks. I think we can win on Sunday with the right strategy and end up better than everybody expects, but I think those four guys are the guys that can do that and everybody else is in another group. You can lose a lot or gain a lot. If you're a driver and not good at a road course or at certain racetracks, experience is what you need. By the last 20 laps, those should be the best 20 laps of the weekend. That's when I'm hoping. That's when it counts. I hope we can win here, but it's not going to be easy. The competition is so tough. If I got a top 10 here, I'd be really happy."

SCOTT PRUETT (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Pruett, subbing for David Stremme, qualified ninth and finished 31st in last year's race at Infineon. He'll be forced to qualify on speed later today.

"I don't see that pressure being anything additional than when we go to any other Cup races road courses. I love this track. If there is a home track this is it for me. I live about an hour and a half from here. I was born and raised around here and I've got a lot of miles at this track in all different configurations. I've seen a lot of changes here, all in good directions. Ten or 15 years ago you never thought you'd see a Cup race here. Now it's an awesome event that happens every year. To be a part of it for me is always fun. If I can come in and help the team, which I am doing here with the Coors Light Dodge, I'm happy to do it. It's going to be a little tricky because I was in Ohio yesterday, here today, back in Ohio for the race there tomorrow and then back here Sunday to race. That part of it is going to be a little tricky, but it's going to be fun."

COMMENT ON WHAT THE HOT WEATHER SUNDAY COULD DO TO THE TRACK "You'll lose grip. That's what you're looking for anyway. We struggle for that everytime we come here, rear grip, overall grip. It just takes away that much more of it. Last year here I'm guessing it was 15 degrees cooler for race time compared to what they're talking about this year, and it's just going to make it that much more difficult for everybody, even from a drivers' standpoint. You're talking about being in the car for that long. It gets pretty hot, and I see some guys falling out of the saddle Sunday. I think it's going to be tougher than you think. We had a race here a few years ago and at the end of the race guys were beat. It's going to be that much tougher on cars, drivers and tires."

ADDITIONAL COMMENT ON RACING AT MID-OHIO ON SATURDAY "Yesterday we were on track (at Mid-Ohio). The nice thing we were quickest in both sessions, and that always bodes well. We jumped in an airplane last night and flew out here with Chip and Tony Glover and the guys in Chip's plane. After qualifying here today we'll jump on the plane and go back to Mid-Ohio. I think we're on track at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I think we have a 5:30 race tomorrow afternoon. As soon as that's over, it'll probably be 9 o'clockish. We'll jump back on the plane and come back here for Sunday. I'll miss everything on the track here Saturday. That's just part of it. With a little bit of luck we can have good results at both places."

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE No. 40 COORS LIGHT DODGE CHARGER HERE ON SATURDAY? "It'll be sitting in the pits."

DO YOU SEE A PROBLEM WITH JETLAG? "No, we do so much traveling anyway, I think most drivers are traveling somewhere almost every day or every few days. This year has been real busy for me. I think I'll be home maybe seven days in the month of June. The cool thing about it is you're getting back and forth across the country in four and a half hours and not sitting in airports and fighting security and delayed flights or canceled flights. The only issue I see is it's hot in Ohio right now. When I left there it was in the high 80s and very oppressive humidity, just overall pretty nasty conditions, as well as Sunday here being nasty conditions. I've just got to make sure I get enough fluids and stay hydrated and be in good shape for this year. We're planning ahead for that, and I don't see a major hurdle, but that's the biggest obstacle that I see in this whole adventure."

COMPARE, CONTRAST WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND WHAT THE CUP DRIVERS IN THE BUSCH RACE ARE DOING THIS WEEKEND "Whenever you have to leave the track and go somewhere else, you're focused on winning a race here, you're focused on winning a race there, but you've got different kinds of cars. The biggest challenge is the cars are so much different, the car I'm racing here this weekend compared to the Grand Am Prototype car. The whole philosophy is different. For some of the guys going from here to Milwaukee, it's still NASCAR. They have the same philosophy of what they're doing, but it's always difficult. Whenever you have to pack your bag and leave that track it's always a little more difficult."

COMMENT ON THE FAVORITES "Jimmie, Jeff, Tony, the guys who win here yhear after year, they're tough. They're always tough. Then you've got the wild cards, other guys coming in. Both Busches I think do a great job. We'll have to wait and see what some of the other rookies can do. When you're 19 or 20 you see yourself as bulletproof and you can do anything you want to do. It usually takes you a few races to get through that, to realize maybe that didn't play out the best. It's happened to all of us. With all that, I see everybody has the same fundamental, which is the talent of the racetrack. You talk about that going to Martinsville or Darlington or any of those tracks. You have the racetrack itself and then above that you have a lot of great guys. Tony dominated both road course races last year. We didn't have anything for him. We had something for everybody else, but I don't think anybody had anything for Tony last year and hopefully that won't be the case this year."

IS IT A MAJOR GOAL FOR YOU TO WIN A CUP RACE? "No question, for me that's unfinished business. Also, the challenge of it is we're not doing it week in and week out. If you look at any major sporting franchise, football, baseball, basketball, there's a lot to be said about team effort, team focus. We step in to do two races a year, we're just stepping in as part-timers and we're stepping in to make the best of the situation. You might give up half a second or a second on a pit stop because everyone is a little more cautious. That's two or three places on the racetrack. The strategy you gamble on week in and week out, you're doing it week in and week out and the driver is a big part of helping with the decision on that strategy. Since we're not doing it week in and week out, we can't have the same view that drivers doing it week in and week out. Even though we come in and run quick it's that team element that's a handicap for us and we'll never get through it. Until a guy like myself or Ron does it fulltime, which is probably not in my future, and probably not in Ron's future... Is there a chance we can come win? Absolutely. Do we want to? Is our heart and passion there? No question. Can it happen? There's going to have to be a lot of planets and solar systems line up for us to get all of it right and to have a good race and a good strategy that plays back into us, more for dumb luck than pure experience with week in and week out racing."

HOW DO THE CUP REGULARS VIEW THE ROAD RACING SPECIALISTS?

"I did this fulltime in 2000. The biggest issue I've seen in a number of races I've done, some of the road course guys come in and get I would say abusive with the other guys -- knocking them off the track, making crazy moves, doing stupid stuff. They ended up taking the guys out of the race. They're looking to get to The Chase. Here you have part-time drivers come in and really overdrive the cars and get beyond their capabilities and knock guys out of the way that are in it for the long haul. I have good respect for the drivers I'm racing against and they have good respect for us. They know we're racing wheel to wheel, fender to fender, and we're not going to do a bold move that takes both of us out of the race. The last lap is different. I think almost anything goes for anybody, full-timer or part-timer. If a win is on the line, you see it week in and week out, guys will be aggressive to get that win. I don't see anything different here. The big piece of it is getting there. If you've got a torn up racecar or you're sitting in the pits because you're fixing something then that's a different story. You've got to get to the end, and I think we both have a lot of experience doing it, but we also have a lot of time racing with these guys. They know we're not here to ruin their day. We just want to have a good, hard race."

TOMMY ARCHER (No. 5 C3 Controls/Dodge Motorsports Viper)

NOTE: Archer competes in the SCCA SPEED GT Series.

COMMENT ON THE CUP RACE AT INFINEON "This is a drivers' track. The harder the track the better I always figured it was for me. Anybody with horsepower can go fast on an easy track. You have to be a little more patient on the road courses. I had a guy in Des Moines ask me once, he was an oval track guy, he said, 'when you get through turn one, where do you go?' I told him turn two and he said, 'well, where is that?' That's what's wrong with road racing. With the new technology with the big screens, fans can watch road racing. People out here are used to it. If you did this in Charlotte, you'd still have trouble."

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE CALL TO BE A HIRED GUN IN A CUP RACE? "I was hoping when Scott Riggs got hurt this week my phone would ring. It's one of them deals. It's very political. The chance they had to take was if I could put it in the show. Bill Elliott is in the show before he starts. I've driven NASCAR trucks here and both times we tested I was the quickest guy. I wouldn't have a problem hopping into a Cup car. I tested one up at Watkins Glen one day and they gave me five laps. I was 25th in five laps with a bad car. It was the 90 car about 10 years ago. I've always been able to hop into just about anything and go fast. I'm 50 years old, too. It's not a big deal to me, but nowadays if you're not 19 or 20 years old they're not looking at you anymore. Even in my series, these kids come along and think they can beat you. After you kick their butts they respect you."

HOW'S IT GOING IN YOUR SERIES THIS SEASON? "I started off bad compared to last year. Last year I won the first two and this year I didn't have any points after the first two. That made it a little bit tough, but we've got a new team and the switchover trouble and unexpected engine trouble, it was just racing luck I guess. We had the fastest car at Long Beach. We had a computer glitch that shut down the car eight times in the race. I had to shut it down and reboot the computers. We finished fourth at Mid-Ohio and finished fourth. We came here hoping to do well and the first session we were quick. I don't know if anybody else in the series has ever driven this configuration but me, so I hope that'll give me a little advantage there. Our series is really political. The Cup Series they just go out and drive. Our series, if you go out there and are too fast, a lot of times they'll change your car so you won't be fast. You have to be careful. Everybody has always been scared of the Viper because it's a V-10. What they don't understand the V-8 Chevys have a 46-point crank. We've got two more cylinders but we have double the crank. We have a 92-pound crank."

-dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Scott Riggs , David Stremme , Mark Martin