KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne scored his second career victory last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway and moved to a career-best second in the series standings. He trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 50 points. Kahne...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne scored his second career victory last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway and moved to a career-best second in the series standings. He trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 50 points. Kahne has recorded three straight top-five finishes and will make his fifth start Sunday at BMS.
"It's been a good week. We've had a lot to talk about with the win. I did a commercial on Tuesday. I went to the shop and talked to the guys and showed them how happy I am getting to drive for them and work with them each week. That was basically the deal for the week. I had a Freightliner deal yesterday in Kentucky and then came over here. At this point we're just waiting for the rain to stop and get in some laps before Sunday."
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO LEARN AT THE RICHMOND BUSCH TEST? "We ran fourth there last year in the Busch car, and we ran pretty good. I think we can go off that and learn some things. We've just got to keep working on getting the cars to turn well and cut through the center of the corners. They slide their nose at Richmond, especially in the center of the corner. We'll just work on that. It's probably going to be cooler there probably than when we go back. If it is, it won't be even close to the same racecar and you won't be able to take all of that along with you. We'll learn some things. You can take some of it to the other short tracks, but it's kinda tough. It's such a different racetrack, but there's always some little things you can learn at certain places. Maybe we won't learn anything, but two weeks ago at Kentucky I feel we did. I feel like that was a big part of our Atlanta win last Monday. There are definitely things you can learn, and sometimes you can take them to other tracks and sometimes you can't, just depending on what they are."
DO YOU FEEL DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? "We're just having the success. I feel like I'm prepared and ready and wanting to be out there every time and try to make our racecars better. You really have to look at the team and Ray Evernham and everybody sticking with the Dodge Charger. It's a car that gave us some trouble in 2005, buy we're starting to figure it out now. We feel like the Charger is the best Dodge car out there right now. Sometimes it takes a little longer to figure things out, but right now I think the Charger is the best Dodge and that's just because we stuck with it and worked hard on it."
IS YOU CONFIDENCE LEVEL HIGHER THIS YEAR? "Well, it's a lot higher than it was this time last year. We were 38th in points going into Atlanta and 28th when we left there. We had a good run there. It's definitely a lot higher. We haven't been tearing up racecars. We've been bringing them back in one piece. We can actually make adjustments during the race and make the car better. Last year there was no chance of that. It's good to look forward to every 40 or 50 laps and come in and change and try to make the Charger better than what it was."
COMMENT ON CARL EDWARDS "I've never hung out with Carl other than I see him at the track and see him around a little bit. He obviously had a good season last year. He's doing a really good job with a lot of things. I think he's a very good, talented driver. He's had a tough start to the season, but that could turn around Sunday. You just never know. I think he's doing a good job. I'd like to go riding motorcycles with him or something, but I haven't been able to yet."
HAS YOUR ROLE WITH THE TEAM BEEN A BIG ADJUSTMENT? "Yeah, I think it is. Coming in you know you've got a lot to do on the weekend. You've got to give good information and give your crew chief things to look at to make your car better. I've recently been doing a better job of that. I've always tried to give good information, now it's more like how do you want your car to work and where and when. During practice you can gain on some of that stuff if you do it at the right time."
TALK ABOUT HAVING MOMENTUM COMING TO BRISTOL "I've always enjoyed the short tracks, Martinsville and Bristol. We haven't had a lot of (good) results here, but we've run decent at times. I came close to winning the Busch race here last fall. I like racing here. It just takes a different kind of driving style, a different mindset coming in here to end up finishing the race because so many things can go on during the race that you might not have control over. Some of it you do have control over. You've got to keep your eyes open and then make the calls right. There are so many strategies you can use here. You can stay out on tires a lot longer and track position is really the key. Pitting at the right time late in the race to be able to finish the last 120 laps under green or with the same tires.... I think it's a lot for team directors and crew chiefs and their decisions."
HOW IMPORTANT HAS KENNY FRANCIS BEEN TO THIS TEAM? "Kenny has been a huge part of our team this year. He's done a lot for Evernham Motorsports the past six years and now he's on the 9 car and doing a great job with Mike Shiplett. He's a good guy. He's smart. He understands and listens well. I try to listen to him and he listens to me. I feel like if I say something he'll try to figure out what I'm talking about and try to make it better. That's a pretty good quality to have when we've just started working together and also trying to win races. You never know what's going to happen with certain people if they put a different person there, but I think Kenny is the right guy, the best guy they could have put... There were other guys they were talking about for that position. Since the start, I thought Kenny was the guy. I'm real happy he's there."
DO YOU THINK THE 48 TEAM WILL COME BACK STRONGER? "They didn't seem much like they missed a beat (without Chad Knaus at the track). They were very tough, and I think with Chad back they'll be the same or better. I think Chad is the man behind the cars, and what they've been building there. They'll be good, just like always, one of the top two or three cars we've got to beat each race."
DO YOU THINK CUP DRIVERS WOULD NOT RACE AS MANY BUSCH RACES IF THE CARS WERE NOT SO MUCH ALIKE? "I don't think so. You're going to see team owners want to put good racecars on the track and sponsors are going to come in and sponsor those team owners, you've got plenty of drivers out there. They'd race Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'd race the truck on Friday if I could, but Ray won't let me. That's just something that some drivers like to do. If you can be in a car or a truck more often than not, that's why we're here. In my rookie season, I thought it was great to get to Busch practice every Friday and then jump in that Cup car. It still helps, but you can feel the track out in any type of car. The Busch car is still fun to driver, no matter what it looks like or what the Cup cars look like. I'll keep racing as long as Ray lets me."
DOES YOUR PERSONALITY MATCH WITH KENNY FRANCIS'? "Mine and Tommy's were different, but we figured out how to make it work. I think myself and Kenny are a little calmer at times. I can get pretty wound up at times in the car and so can Kenny. He gets pretty excited when he's calling a race. Kenny and I definitely work well together. The way we talked to each other last week and the way we were able to make adjustments and stuff, I thought it was pretty good. It was probably one of the better races I've had working with the team."
HOW DO YOU PASS THE TIME ON A RAINY, SNOWY DAY AT THE TRACK? "I've been on the internet this morning, trying to go through emails. There isn't much to do. I guess you can leave the racetrack, but I've got a couple of DVDs, so I'll watch movies and watch some basketball tonight."
DO YOU HAVE AN NCAA TEAM LEFT? "Texas. I'll go for the Huskies tonight, but that's about as far as they're going to go."
IS IT TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT THE CHASE YET? "It's way too early, but it's good to be second in points and not be 350 points out of first like we were last year. It's a much better spot. We can easily fall out of the top 10, but if we keep having the consistency and bring in the cars home in one piece, we're in a lot better shape than we were last year."
DO YOU THINK LAST WEEK SETTLED THE CHARGER ISSUE? "It did for us. We've been right there all year long. There's been a lot of changes with our cars and people, personnel. We felt like we had a great racecar with the Dodge Charger, and I'm glad we stuck with it. There were times when I felt like we should try this or try that or try some things. It may have helped at times last year when we didn't have the Charger figured out, but I think right now by sticking with the Dodge Charger, you know the Dodge Dealers are our sponsor and we want to sell Dodge cars. That's definitely the car we want to have."