KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Madison Odell, 6, of Hudson Valley, N.Y., accompanied Kahne to his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Wake-Up Call interview on Thursday. Madison, a guest of the Make a Wish Foundation, has cystic ...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Madison Odell, 6, of Hudson Valley, N.Y., accompanied Kahne to his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Wake-Up Call interview on Thursday. Madison, a guest of the Make a Wish Foundation, has cystic fibrosis.
Kahne leads the circuit with five victories in 2006 and is tied with Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, for the most poles with five. Kahne won earlier this season at LMS and has 2006 victories to his credit at three of the next four tracks -- Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas.
COMMENT ON THE FIRST FOUR CHASE RACES "I think we stand pretty good. We just had three races and had three really good racecars and had a chance of running in the top 10 in all three of those races and just had things go wrong. Things kept us from doing that. Because of that we lost a lot of points and we're still ninth. Last week we had a great run. We had a top-five car. Because of the finish we ended up second. I thought that was by far the best car and engine I'd ever had at a restrictor-plate track. Our engine shop and the guys building the car did a great job giving us a chance to run up front. I think we can do it again this week. We've got the car we raced at Dover. We're racing that again this weekend. It's a fast car. It's always been a fast car. We've just never finished with it. Hopefully things will go well. We had a really good car here in the 600 and just look forward to this weekend."
YOUR SPRINT CAR TEAM HAS DONE WELL THIS SEASON (RANKED THIRD IN THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS STANDINGS). HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT BEING A BUSCH OR CUP CAR OWNER? "Not really. I really enjoy my sprint car team and what's going on there. I know we're getting ready to do some more things with Mopar and Dodge with the sprint cars and midgets that will make our program bigger and better than what it is. I'm just looking forward to that, giving more drivers a chance to drive some really respectable race cars."
COMMENT ON YOUR SUCCESS ALREADY AT SOME OF THE UPCOMING TRACKS AND WHY NOT HAVE CHASSIS 128 AT LMS? "I definitely think we can do things like Jimmie (Johnson) did that year. We're going to a lot of tracks we run well at. Jimmie has had some great racecars too, and hasn't got the results. He can go on a tear and we definitely can. I'm looking forward to that, trying to. 128 is the car that's won five races, but really all year long it's never been my favorite car. It's just won the races. It's been the lucky car, the car that is up front when it counts. This is actually my favorite car, and I feel like it's a car that can win here this weekend, just as easy as 128. 128 is all wrapped in McDonald's for Atlanta. It's our Atlanta car ready to go, and we're going to try to do well with this one this weekend."
MANY DRIVERS HAVE HAD PROBLEMS IN THE CHASE. DOES THAT GIVE YOU MORE CONFIDENCE THAT YOU CAN RALLY? "Looking at last week we made up 90 something points (actually 88) and I didn't think when you're (273) points behind you could make up just as many as you lost the week before and we were able to do that. You never know what's going to happen. Racing is a crazy sport. You never know what's going to happen next. If we get some good breaks and have some good results and get some of the guys we're racing with to have some of those bad weekends like we've had then we'll be right back in the middle of it."
HAS THE GOAL CHANGED IN THE CHASE? "I don't really think so. We're going to obviously try to win this week and try to get a pole tonight. That's something I really want to do, win some more poles before the season is done and get some more wins, but I think that's just all about Kenny Francis (team director) and the game plan he has on Saturday night. He'll set that up with the two tires, four tires, no tires and decide there. I think we're really looking good. It's hard to go in with a new plan or anything. We just have to race smart, get the points we need and for sure try to win."
WHAT IS THE MOOD CHANGE IN JUST ONE WEEK? "We haven't even talked about that. We just talked about what we need to do to go fast this weekend. I think the biggest thing is when you're 280 points behind you don't think you can make up the points, but we did it in one weekend. It's definitely possible to make up what we're behind and get back in the top five. We're just going to try to run up front, do everything we can to get the points we can get, lead laps and see what happens. The only way we're going to be able to get back into it is if other people have bad luck. I don't wish that on anybody, but it can definitely happen."
WHEN DO YOU DECIDE TO GO FOR A WIN OR PLAY IT CONSERVATIVE AND GO FOR A TOP FIVE? "Last week I was all about staying in line until the final lap. On the final lap if I could get a run, I kept messing around the last five laps seeing where I could get runs and how I could do it and then get on the brakes and not really show what I had. If we could have run single file into turn three I think I could have definitely got a run and at least ran third, maybe even second if Kurt Busch had gone with me. If everybody had stayed single file I think we could have shot up there, battled with those guys for second, third, fourth-place finish. I was waiting until the last lap, last three and four before I was going to do anything and jeopardize getting freight trained or anything like that."
COMMENT ON THE NEW TIRE AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE. "I think the track is going to be a little better. There should be a little more grip. The left-side tire is a little bit softer from what I understood. It's probably going to make the cars a tough tighter, but it's softer so you're going to have more overall grip and a little bit tighter racecar. You're probably going to have to free it up to make that work a little bit from where we were. I don't know if it's going to be easier to pass, but it's going to be easier to race side by side and not be so scared about that. I think from the All-Star race to the 600, the track in that one week from the Busch race and All-Star race to the 600, the track changed a lot. It made for a much better race on Sunday than the week before in the All-Star race."
SHOULD NON-CHASERS GIVE BREAKS TO THE CHASE DRIVERS? "Personally, I don't think so. When I was on the outside looking in, I wanted to run up front. I wanted to win. I wanted to do everything I could. It was always in my mind, 'if you screw up and wipe out one of these Chase guys, that's not a good thing.' There's a lot of things you can look at, but as far as racing somebody, I raced everybody clean just like I do each week. You've just got to make sure you don't screw up."
HOW MUCH OF A THREAT ARE YOU TO WIN SATURDAY NIGHT? "I think we're definitely going to be as good as anyone this weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I think Scott Riggs will be good in another Evernham car, and Elliott Sadler ran good here in the past. I've raced with him in '04 when we were running up front here, and he'll be good again now that he's in the 19. Between us three and the guys that are always good here it should be a good battle."
WHEN DO YOU HIT THE PANIC MODE? "I'm happy I'm in The Chase. I definitely want to win the Nextel Cup, but if things don't go our way and we can't do it, then that's the way it is and we'll try again in '07. As far as hitting the panic button, I just want to win. I want to do everything I can to run up front. My team is really good. They're always bringing me great racecars. For two and a half months we've had as good a car as anybody. Whether we've won or not won, we still had that car and things have happened to not finish up front."
WERE YOU SURPRISED TO HEAR ABOUT EXTRA SECURITY FOR VICKERS AT LMS? "What I thought when I heard that, if we were racing again in Alabama this weekend he'd probably need it, but we're not racing in Alabama and I don't think he's going to need any extra security in Charlotte. Things change. People forget quick, and Junior wasn't pointing fingers and Jimmie wasn't. It was just a racing thing. It was definitely too bad for the 48 and 8. That's terrible to have that happen on the last lap. Brian didn't want it to happen. It just happened and it was his fault."
ARE YOU EXPECTING A BETTER RACE? "I'm expecting a real similar track to how it was in the spring, maybe a little better with the colder air. We'll probably have a little more grip. Whether it'll create better racing or not, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. I'd settle for the same results."
-credit: dodge motorsports