Atlanta: "Wakeup Call" Kasey Khane

Saturday, March 13, 2004 Golden Corral 500 Nextel Wakeup Call. KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) "It started way better than I expected. I knew I was stepping into a great race team, and to work with Tommy Baldwin was a great ...

Saturday, March 13, 2004
Golden Corral 500
Nextel Wakeup Call.

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

"It started way better than I expected. I knew I was stepping into a great race team, and to work with Tommy Baldwin was a great opportunity for me to work with a great crew chief. I didn't expect to run second twice or even once. To sit on the pole in Las Vegas with a new track record, that was one of our highlights, too, so far. We've had a great year so far three races in, top 10 in points, everything is going pretty smooth. We're going to keep working on that and try to keep it up this week."

HAVE YOU HAD DISCUSSIONS ABOUT DEALING WITH SUCCESS?

"Yeah, I sat in Ray's office this week for about an hour. We just had a talk about what's been going on. He's excited, and I'm excited. Everything is good. We told me things that happen when you race good and especially if things get better and better, so Ray is going to help me out. Running Cup and Busch, we have a pretty hectic schedule. Not this weekend, everything is pretty laid back, but the other weekends Ray is going to make sure I don't do too much and start losing focus on either one of the Busch car or Cup car."

HOW WILL YOU DEAL WITH GRIND OF RUNNING BOTH SERIES?

"Racing good will be the biggest thing. If you're racing good you'll always have a little more energy and be ready to go. One of Ray's plans was a weight training program and eating the right foods and try to be ready all year long so I wouldn't get worn out halfway through the season. I've kept that up so far. I've been working real hard. I feel great when the race is over, better than last year after a 200-mile Busch race was over. You race 700 or 800 miles on one weekend and not feel bad, that's pretty good."

DOES RAY EVERNHAM TELL YOU ABOUT WHEN HE WORKED WITH JEFF GORDON?

"Every once in awhile he'll reference it. Mainly, I think he's using all the things that happened with him and Jeff. Maybe Jeff started racing better, and I think he'll use that for me. Last week I guess he talked with Jeff on the phone, and he shared some of that with me."

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR A TIME WHEN THINGS MIGHT NOT GO SO GOOD?

"I think I am. That's racin'. It's good one day and bad the next and you never know. I think I'm prepared for that. That's how my Busch career has been, up and down a lot. My confidence is up, and we're excited about the things we've done this year so far, but I know at any time that can go the opposite way for a week or two. We've just got to try to do the things not to make that happen."

WHY DID YOU DECIDE ON NEXTEL CUP?

"When I was coming through sprint cars and midgets I was happy to be driving sprint cars. If I had any other opportunities, I would try it and just go either way. I never was set on going NASCAR or going open wheel just because it's so difficult in either one of those series. I got to test for Bobby Rahal and Panther Racing. As soon as that happened I tested for PPC Racing, and that's just where the doors opened on the stock car side, and that's just the direction I went. I'm happy that's the way it went."

CAN YOU RELATE HOW YOU CAME TO KNOW RAY EVERNHAM?

"The first time I met him was during Volusia Speedweeks in Daytona early in the year. Ray came with Billy Pouch, he's a sprint car driver out of Pennsylvania. I knew Billy pretty good from the year before. I'd raced in Pennsylvania a lot. Billy introduced us, and we talked. When I started racing Busch, we'd run into each other every once in awhile in the garage. That was when we first met. Last year when Bill realized he wanted to step back a little bit, that's when Ray and I started talking. He (Evernham) spotted the last two (Busch) races for me (in 2003) -- Rockingham and Homestead."

HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?

"I'm pretty mellow right now. In the racecar I'm pretty intense. I do whatever I have to do in the car, but out of the car I'm usually pretty mellow and relaxed. That's probably the biggest thing, I just sit back and hope things go the right way and work with the right people and get everything solved. That's basically what happened. We got everything solved, and I went on to drive for Ray Evernham."

HOW'S IT LOOK FOR SUNDAY'S RACE?

"We didn't start out very good. The car was real loose, but by the end of practice we were faster. We picked up a lot with changes. We picked up another two tenths qualifying, and we were actually a little tight qualifying. I think we came a long way to end up 12th. When we tested here, we tested one day and tested the whole day on race practice. We'll see what we've got this morning. I think our race stuff is going to be better than qualifying because we tested all race stuff. We got real tight and real loose and we found a spot where we thought we were pretty good so we'll see what happens."

TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARS YOU'VE RACED AND HOW THEY'VE HELPED YOU IN NEXTEL CUP

"I think they all helped me. The Silver Crown car is bigger and heavier compared to the sprint and midget. The sprint and the midget are so quick and twitchy, and I think that helps, too, because these stock cars, when they start to get loose, it's real quick. It's like a twitchy loose they get and then they'll just snap on you. That's similar to a midget, too. It's a lot lighter and smaller. When I came from the midgets to the stock cars it was a big jump because there was so much difference, but now when I go from a stock car to a midget, I think I'm a better Silver Crown and midget racer on pavement than when I left, and I don't race it much anymore. I think stock cars have helped me a lot that way."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Ray Evernham , Tommy Baldwin
Teams Panther Racing