KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) COMMENTS ABOUT RACING AT CHICAGOLAND WITH DODGE CHARGER THAT'S WON CIRCUIT-LEADING FOUR RACES IN 2006 "We're obviously looking forward to it. This car has been really good to us. Chicagoland...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENTS ABOUT RACING AT CHICAGOLAND WITH DODGE CHARGER THAT'S WON CIRCUIT-LEADING FOUR RACES IN 2006 "We're obviously looking forward to it. This car has been really good to us. Chicagoland has been a great race track. Last year we didn't run that well here. The year before we ran pretty good here. It's fun. I enjoy this race track. It seems like it gets better and better each year. I'm just looking forward to the weekend. The guys are real excited. Every time we bring out this car we have a shot to run up front and be pretty decent. Maybe today we can go for another pole and get our McDonald's Dodge running well."
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO RUN BETTER HERE? "Just mainly what we've been doing all year. Kenny Francis (team director) is giving me awesome cars every time we get to the race track. I feel like we'll unload today and have a decent car in the first practice. Then we'll start working on it and fine tune and getting it ready for Sunday's race. It's a long race and the track will change some and we need to be ready for that. I think communication and preparation and they've already prepared a perfect racecar, so we'll keep communicating well and hopefully it'll end up being a good week."
COMMENT ON YOUR VACATION "I left straight from Daytona and flew to Paradise Island in the Bahamas and got on a boat and met up with a really cool guy from Seymour Paints and took his yacht out, an 85-foot yacht for four days and it was a blast. We went to a bunch of different little islands, and it was fun. We were out there on Independence Day, the Fourth of July, and really had a good time."
WHY IS THIS CHARGER SO SPECIAL? "I think when holes open and you're racing and there's a shot to pass a car in front of you, a shot to get a couple of cars, you take it and go for it. This car is quick enough that you can get through those holes. Some cars might not make it in time. I think the car basically just handles to much better than some of the other cars on the track. They work on it. They really took a lot of time building this car. They just finished three more identical to it getting ready for the end of the season. We're going to test two of them at Indy next week. It's just a really good car. We know when we go to the track it's going to be fast because it has four wins. At the same time, it's probably pretty similar to some of the other cars. We've hit on some things with this car. We've had some luck with it, too. Look at Michigan. A lot of things could have changed the results there. You just never know. It's definitely a good car."
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CAR WITH SIMILAR RESULTS? "No, I haven't. I've had some really good sprint cars and midgets over the years and things like that. I think you get in so many different cars... My sprint car team right now, they're three for three with the car they run in the World of Outlaws. They're saving it for the Knoxville Nationals. That's about as close as I've ever been around."
HOW DOES THIS CAR FEEL TO DRIVE? "The main thing is you like the way you sit in the car. You like the way the seats feel, your inserts and things like that. I've changed. After my second win we put in a completely different insert and moved the steering wheel around and belts and everything. It's not really anything different than any other car. It goes fast. We've been in the right position with this car. We've been at the right race tracks. I've always run well at Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte and Michigan, some of those tracks even when I was in the 98 car my first year in Busch when I didn't run well ever. We ran good at those tracks. I think I carry momentum better at those tracks than some of the others. This car has been at those tracks and has been able to win those races."
DID IT HURT THE CAR AT ALL WHEN YOU WRECKED IT IN PRACTICE AT MICHIGAN? "Yeah, it screwed it up that afternoon when they had to fix it. When it went green on Sunday I was waiting for it not to turn in the first corner. It turned really good in the first corner, second corner, third corner, fourth corner. I kept waiting on it to give up when it got in the corner. I thought something was going to go wrong, but after a few laps I knew it was OK. They fixed it perfect."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GOT A GOOD SHOT GOING INTO THE CHASE? "Yeah, I feel like we've got a shot to win at every track we go to in The Chase except Talladega. Look at the result last week (at Daytona). We didn't have anything wrong. That's just where we ran. We've got to really work on our engines for the superspeedway stuff. I think our cars draft well. They handle well. The biggest thing is just getting power. We've got to go faster, and that has a lot to do with power on those tracks. We really need to work on that for Talladega, but all the intermediate tracks, the two-mile tracks and even the Martinsvilles, Bristols, we ran second, third, led the race at Martinsville until we had the engine problem. At Bristol we ended up 10th. I think we have a great shot to score a lot of points in The Chase. First of all we've got to make it. Right now we're doing a good job of that, but things can change quick. We just need to do the same things, communicating well, but if we do make it, yeah, I think we've got as good a chance as anybody."
WILL YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT MINDSET FOR THE CHASE? "I'm approaching races differently because of the team I'm working with and because of Kenny Francis. The cars he gives me, the way he listens to me, the way he works each week to make things better, yeah, I'm approaching races differently that way, but the mindset of The Chase, I've never been in it. It's going to be different. I know I've looked in from the outside two years in a row, and I didn't like that at all. I know going up to that point, especially in '04, we had as good a shot as anybody to finish eighth, ninth or 10th in the points and get in The Chase. There was a ton of pressure for about a month straight there that I haven't felt since. We haven't been in that position. I bet if we do get in The Chase there's a lot more pressure than what I felt. That can change. It may not. We'll just have to get there and see how it goes."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT GIVES YOU PROBLEMS? "Last year it was pure handling. We really had a problem. We were really good last year with about 30 laps on tires. Then we would start passing cars, but on restarts last year we lost at least eight spots every four laps. We'd just get killed on restarts. From there we'd hold our own and be good at the end of the run, so handling was huge there. The first year we were probably a top-five car. I don't think we could have beat Tony Stewart that year, but we definitely had a car that could have raced him if he had given us a shot."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN AT THE INDY TEST? "The tires are going to be different. We did some tire testing there and the track was very similar and felt great, looked great, everything was perfect as always. We did some tire testing. We did a lot for Goodyear. I think we gained a lot. We found tires that would work and tires that wouldn't work. The tires that would work they wanted to do more work to and make them a little more durable so we don't have the left front problems or right front problems. We'll go back with no lap times on any of the tires when we go back Monday. It'll be good for us to go back and get a couple days of testing, even though I've already been there for three days this year. We'll try to figure out how to go fast. We were pretty decent there at the tire test. We should have a good shot at running up front."
COMMENT ON CHANGING THE FORMAT OF THE CHASE "The way it is now, when you're on the edge of getting into The Chase, those last 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 right in that area, that's where it's exciting. That's tough from race 20 to 26. After that, getting into it I would say is real similar to trying to win the championship. From what I was understanding, they might knock cars out as you get toward the end. I guess that would create more drama, but maybe that's not the way they're going to do it. It's racing. It's what it's all about. We've got to excite these fans and make everybody excited to come around and enjoy what we do and let us do it. We've got to keep filling up the grandstands and watching on TV so we can keep doing this on Sundays. NASCAR is doing a good job getting more and more fans involved in this sport."
ARE YOU TEMPTED TO NAME YOUR WINNING CHARGER AND HAS RAY TOLD YOU ABOUT THE CAR JEFF GORDON WON A BUNCH OF RACES IN? "I've heard most of Ray's stories about all the wins he has and what he was doing to get by some of the stuff. Ray is real cool about that stuff. He's told me about that stuff, and that's pretty awesome the stuff they used to do and win with. Our car is 128. We don't name any of the racecars. I think some people might. Obviously Ray used to. He's got names for every car Jeff drove I think, but we just put numbers on the cars so we know which car is which and go to the track."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT NOT TO TINKER WITH A PROVEN CAR? "That's why we built three brand new cars. We used a lot from those cars. They're also super, super nice from the time we had to put in them. You just have to keep going. Kenny never slows down. They do a good job of always looking for a little bit more. Our shock guy has been doing an awesome job creating new shocks for us to run this year. I think that's helped, too. We've got some pretty neat stuff there. It just keeps getting better and better. We're probably not going to do much with car 128. It's got too good a record. Some of these other cars are hopefully going to be better than that car. You can build a better car and not win four races with it. That's just part of getting lucky I guess and having some good runs."
COMPARE RACING 128 THIS WEEKEND AS OPPOSED TO FIRST TIME YOU RACED IT? "I really feel like it's not that big of a deal. It's a huge deal that we won four races with it, but it's just another car. I think if we brought any of our other cars, 131 or any of the other cars we've run well with this year it could be in the same spot. It just hasn't won a race. I don't feel any different. I just feel like we need to go out there and do our jobs and hopefully have a really good week. I kinda like the format this week with everything moved back a little bit. I get to watch the USAC race tonight. I think that's going to be a pretty cool race to watch. I'm looking forward to the whole weekend, racing in the Busch race tomorrow and the Cup race on Sunday. Then I get to go to Indy and test a couple of days. It should be a fun week."
DO YOU TALK ON THE RADIO DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE OF TRACKPASS? "I don't think so. If you heard some of the conversations you probably wouldn't think so, either. It gets pretty ugly once in awhile. I've tried to calm down over the last couple of years, get in more control of what I'm saying and communicate better and think first. A lot of times you just throw stuff out. Last week at Daytona I had a few things I wanted to say and just kinda pushed the mike. That's probably good because I know someone in here would have heard it and that would have created a lot of controversy for me. I'm definitely trying to think a little bit before I talk. I think it's neat the fans can listen to what's going on. It just makes it that much more exciting, and that's what it's all about. I have a lot of friends at home in Washington and they have Trackpass. They call me up after the race and know as much about what went on as I do, and that's pretty cool. That's something you would never expect."