KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) IT HAS TO FEEL GOOD TO BE BACK INSIDE THE TOP-12 AGAIN? "Yeah, we had a great car at Atlanta. We had a good race. We got behind on that one deal early in the race there on pit road and it took us a...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
IT HAS TO FEEL GOOD TO BE BACK INSIDE THE TOP-12 AGAIN? "Yeah, we had a great car at Atlanta. We had a good race. We got behind on that one deal early in the race there on pit road and it took us a long time to get our lap back. We actually ran second to Kurt (Busch) one lap down for over 100 laps in the race. We finally got it (lap) back and ended up with a seventh which I think was pretty good. I think that we were more of a fourth- or fifth-place car on a long run and probably seventh early in the run. It worked out good for us. I'm real happy with where our points are right now. Our whole Budweiser team has done a great job just getting the most points we could every race. The first three (races), we weren't quite as good and then Atlanta, we were good and got a great finish."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE NEXT FEW RACES WILL PLAY TO YOUR TEAM'S STRENGTHS OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO GET BY THESE NEXT FEW RACES AND CATCH UP LATER? "I think that I use to kind of think about it that way... at least get all (the points) that I can. Whether our results show it or not at Bristol or Martinsville, I feel like we're usually a pretty fast car. We're usually real close to a top-10 car at both tracks. Things happen at these tracks and you can't always control that. I feel like these are two tracks that we can definitely gain points. I feel like we can make gains there (at Martinsville). We had a test a week ago at a short-track and this week we had the (Goodyear) tire test at Lowe's for a couple of days, so I feel like our team is really good and we're in a good position right now."
WITH THE WAY THAT YOU AND KURT RAN AT ATLANTA, IS THAT A SIGN OF THE PROCCESS OF THE NEW NOSE? A SIGN OF HOW GOOD THE DODGE'S CAN BE THIS YEAR? "I think that the biggest thing is that it shows the Dodge teams that, hey, these cars can go fast. I think Kurt (Busch) is showing that. I think that Penske, just looking at the start of this year and where they were last year, I would say that Penske, as an organization, has gained more on the competition than anyone out there. I think that they've really stepped it up with their whole program. We all know that Kurt is one of the better drivers out here, so if he has the right stuff, he's tough to beat and he showed that at Atlanta. I think that we (RPM) came a long way as compared to where we were in California and Las Vegas with that type of race track. We gained a lot with setups and things that we changed on the car. Our engines ran a little bit better in Atlanta; it was a little bit newer version of that engine (R5). So I feel like the Dodge's did a real good job of making gains. We have a ways to go, but we definitely did a good job up to this point."
SEEING HOW GOOD PENSKE IS RUNNING WITH THE NEW R6 ENGINE, IS THERE ANY IMPATIENCE ON YOUR PART TO GET THE NEW ENGINE? IS THE REASON THAT YOU GUYS HAVE HELD OFF ON IT BECAUSE THE ENGINE DOESN'T INTERCHANGE IN THE CAR WHERE YOU NEEDED A DEDICATED CAR FOR THE ENGINE? "There's a couple of ways to look at that. I was at Dodge two years ago and they said that the engine was right around the corner and everybody was excited for that. Basically, two years later we still don't have it. Early on, I would say it was a big part of Dodge's fault...actually I know it was. But at this point, I just think that it's our team. We just haven't gone to our engine company... we just haven't finished it yet and haven't made it to where it's reliable and better than the engine that we have now. Obviously, Kurt's showing that it is (a dependable engine). They're running good with it. They had one engine problem at Las Vegas, but as far as the power and things, it's definitely better than what we have now. We just need to keep working on it. We just need to figure out how to get it in our cars. It just depends on who you talk to on why we don't have it in there; I don't think that I've heard a straight story yet. I think at some point, we'll get it and we need it. If we're going to be a Dodge team, we need to have that engine."
DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO START RUNNING THE NEW ENGINE? "No, I have no clue... hopefully sooner than later."
WITH BRISTOL AND MARTINSVILLE BACK-TO-BACK, WHICH OF THE TRACKS IS THE TOUGHEST TO DRIVE? "I think both of them have their own unique difficulties. Bristol is faster and things happen quicker here, but there's no room at Martinsville either. So, if something happens in front of you at Martinsville, you have a good shot at being involved in it. But as far as racing the tracks, I feel like I'm a little bit better at Bristol as a driver and knowing how to get around this course as compared to Martinsville. I know that I've finished second at both of these tracks, but I don't know about all the results...how my average finish is. But I would say that Bristol is a touch better for me, but I think that we can run top 10 at both tracks."
WHEN YOU FIRST COME TO BRISTOL AS A DRIVER, WHAT IS THE FIRST SURPRISE YOU GET WHEN YOU RACE HERE? "The biggest surprise for me was just how hard you can drive the car here. Every lap, how fast you're going on such a small track. Where you lift getting into a corner, you can drive in really far and you can get back into the throttle really quick. To me, when I first came here, I remember like it was yesterday...my first time racing here in the 98 car in the Nationwide Series. I couldn't believe how fast that you could go at this track. How the g-forces compared to any of the other tracks that I had raced on at that point. It was a big difference, big change. Now it's just kind of normal, just like any other race track. You figure it out and you remember how this place races and you just keep trying to get better."
DO YOU ANTICIPATE GETTING FRUSTRATED OUT THERE SUNDAY? "I hope not. I've been in a couple deals here before where I've been upset with the way situations have happened or what's turned out last year when (Michael) Waltrip and (Casey) Mears got together. I think that we had a top-10 car and that really hurt us in trying to make the Chase last year. Obviously, there are a lot of things that go into a full season on why you don't make the Chase when you have 26 races, but that was one of them. So, things can happen and we hopefully have a good race car here and stay out of trouble."
-credit: dodge motorsports