BUSCH: Bristol II: Ford - Kasey Kahne interview

This Week in Ford Racing August 19, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 38 Taurus, is coming off of a career-best weekend last week in Michigan. The 23-year-old Kahne captured his first career Busch Series pole in his 43rd...

This Week in Ford Racing
August 19, 2003

NASCAR Busch Series

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 38 Taurus, is coming off of a career-best weekend last week in Michigan. The 23-year-old Kahne captured his first career Busch Series pole in his 43rd series start and went on to post a second-place finish in the race. Kahne, who is currently 11th in the Busch Series point standings, just six points out of the top 10, spoke about his progression from the open-wheel ranks and his penchant to continue racing those vehicles.

KASEY KAHNE -38-Great Clips Ford Taurus

YOU WON YOUR FIRST POLE BY BEATING OUT A NUMBER OF WINSTON CUP VETERANS. WERE YOU ABLE TO RIDE THE MOMENTUM FROM WINNING THE POLE THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND?

"I think we finally got a car that was real competitive with the fast guys there. On the long runs we were as good as anybody. We were as good as Tony Stewart on a long run, but the first 30 laps of a run Stewart was by far the class of the field. Those guys have so many laps and resources. They have notebooks full of information on how to get around those tracks and go fast, but when we can beat them, we at least know we're doing something right."

YOU BOUNCED BACK RATHER QUICKLY FROM A RACE AT INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK WHERE YOU APPEARED FRUSTRATED WITH THE OUTCOME.

"The biggest problem at IRP was that the left-front collapsed on the car and it was an inch low on the left-front corner, which just made the car so tight and it wouldn't turn the whole race. We didn't know that until the race was over and we could take a closer look at the car, so that was frustrating. Going into IRP I thought we were going to be pretty darn good and we weren't. Once we found that the car had collapsed on the left-front corner, it made it a little bit better. We ran so good at California earlier this year, we had some good notes to start with heading to Michigan and I think that brought our confidence level right back up. When you can start with good notes your whole weekend is going to be better."

HOW IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND CREW CHIEF WES WARD PROGRESSING?

"We get along good. We can figure out a lot of stuff together and we work well together thinking things over and knowing what we need. He's learning me a lot better. He's got it down more now that when I say it's tight, he's figuring out that it's not quite as tight as I make it sound. It's a lot closer. He kind of knows what I'm talking about a lot better."

EVEN THOUGH YOU'VE GRADUATED FROM THE OPEN-WHEEL RANKS TO NASCAR YOU STILL RETURN TO YOUR RACING ROOTS ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS. TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF VEHICLES YOU DRIVE.

"I still drive midgets, sprint and Sliver Crown cars. The midget is the smallest one. It's the lightest and has a four-cylinder engine and shorter wheelbase. The sprint car has the biggest motor in it. It's a light car, too, but it's got little bit longer wheelbase than a midget. The Silver Crown is the biggest one of all. It's got the longest wheelbase, but it's got a 360 engine, which is a little bit smaller than a sprint car engine."

YOU COMPETED IN THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS WORLD OF OUTLAWS RACE LAST WEEK IN IOWA. DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER UPCOMING PLANS TO RACE AN OPEN-WHEEL CAR?

"We're going to Nazareth this weekend. We're going to miss the practice in Nazareth on Friday because of the Bristol Busch race, but I'll be able to go there and drive after the race. We'll get a half-hour practice Saturday morning and then qualify. Hopefully we'll be good enough to qualify there and then we'll be all right in the race."

YOU DROVE A TONY STEWART-OWNED CAR LAST WEEK IN IOWA. HAVE YOU DEVELOPED TIES WITH HIM AND HAS HE HELPED YOU MAKE THE ADJUSTMENT TO STOCK CARS?

"He's probably the only guy that I turn to, and he's one of the best guys to ask questions to once in a while. He's not going to give me all the right answers, but he'll help as much as he can. I need something like that because I've never had a mentor like Ryan Newman or some of these other guys had. These guys that started out in NASCAR from open-wheel racing had different drivers helping them out the first one or two years to get them through a lot of learning curves. I didn't really have that and I think Tony and I have pretty similar driving styles, and it just helps to talk with someone that understands what exactly you talking about when it comes to the handling of the cars."

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO TRANSITION FROM A STOCK CAR TO AN OPEN-WHEEL VEHICLE WHEN YOU DROVE THEM ON THE SAME WEEKEND?

"The cars are so much different, but once you drive one you figure it out and keep it in your head. It's not too bad to go back and forth with. The more I race the happier I am, so I think it helps when I can race a lot."

IS SAFETY EVER A CONCERN WHEN YOU DRIVE AN OPEN-WHEEL CAR?

"I think it's a concern for some people, I think they think about it a lot, but I don't think a lot about that. You hope that stuff doesn't happen, but there's not a lot you can do. It's nothing you can stop from happening if it's going to, other than not trying to put yourself in a position not to crash or be taken out. At IRP two guys got in front of me and I had nowhere to go and jumped a race car."

WITH YOUR OPEN-WHEEL BACKGROUND, DO YOU COMPARE YOUR DEVELOPMENT TO THE LIKES OF JEFF GORDON AND TONY STEWART?

"I can look at my results and look at what they did as the point in their careers and there are a lot of similarities in the things that we have done. It's pretty cool to be going up that same ladder that they did. By no means would I think I can do what they've done. Those are two of the best race car drivers in the world, let alone in NASCAR. All I can expect is to keep progressing and keep following them as much as I can."

BOTH GORDON AND STEWART MOVED FROM THE BUSCH SERIES TO WINSTON CUP AFTER A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

"I'm not real sure, but I think that's something results will dictate. I had a half-year last year in the Busch Series and if we get a full year this year with some good results and some more next year, probably the year after that we could be ready. It's hard to say. I know right now that I want to do well in Busch. I want to go for a championship and it probably won't be this year but maybe next year we'll be ready to go for a championship. That's something that neither of them did. They pretty much went right through Busch and up to Winston Cup and were basically on top of Winston Cup when they got there. I'm more up for going for a Busch championship before moving on."

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne