Daytona 500: Kahne - Friday media visit

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford, is coming off a win in yesterday's second Gatorade Duel 150 race. As a result, he will be starting from the second row when the green flag falls on Sunday. Kahne answered more...

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford, is coming off a win in yesterday's second Gatorade Duel 150 race. As a result, he will be starting from the second row when the green flag falls on Sunday. Kahne answered more questions from the media on Friday.

YOUR THOUGHTS ON SUNDAY? "I feel good about where we're at and where we've been since we started practice here a week ago. Our 500 car, it's a fast car. We still need to get some practice in, so tomorrow will be a big day for us to make a few more gains with it. We'll run our 500 engine and just kind of see where we stand tomorrow, but I think you can learn a lot. The 150s -- from where the track went -- this rain may change some things a little more, but if it keeps going in that direction, we'll be off, so we need to keep up with the race track and how it's been changing, and I think we know where we need to be."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AS FAR AS THE STYLE OF RACING ON SUNDAY? "The start is gonna go green and we're all gonna be two and three-wide for a little while. It's a long race and everybody knows that, so there are gonna be times, I think, when it gets somewhat single-file. It's handling here and always has been, so it'll make some single-file racing for a little bit, but everybody wants to race and everybody wants to pass and the opportunities that you get, you kind of have to take at the time. I just remember the 500s and the Talladega races you get single-file for a while. It's 500 miles and you need to finish, so there might be a few spots where we're kind of strung out, but once we get rolling and get to the end of the race it's gonna be exciting. The way the package is right now, the way NASCAR has it -- to me -- is some pretty good exciting racing for the cars."

WILL IT BE THE SAME TIGHT COMPETITION WE SAW YESTERDAY? "Definitely. I think early in the race and then definitely the last 200 miles will be very exciting and very close -- trying to figure out where you need to be on the track, who needs to be pushing, who you need to be pushing and that kind of stuff. I think it's gonna be a great race. I'm excited for it."

HOW DOES THE CHESS GAME ASPECT WORK HERE WITH YOUR STYLE? "I think you learn a little bit each time you come here and I've learned a lot over the last six years. I felt like yesterday and in the Shootout I've had more cars actually pushing the 9 than what there has been in probably the six previous years combined, so I feel like I'm in a much better spot. People want to push a fast car and our car has been handling really good, and our Ford engine runs great, so, hopefully, that'll help the whole chess game, the whole 'Who do you get behind, and who is behind you and can you keep them behind you.' You learn a lot during the race. I felt like the Shootout and the 150s were a little bit different as far as where you wanted to be on the track and when, and I think you'll have to pay attention to that again on Sunday and figure it out and hopefully be there at the end."

DO YOU LIKE THIS KIND OF RACING? "I love this type of racing. As long as you stay out of the wreck, I think it's some of the most fun racing that we do each year, and then the handling part of Daytona, too. It's not wide-open. You have to lift, you have to brake, you have to hit your marks and, depending on where you enter the corner with another car in front of you can blow your corner too. I think it's pretty exciting. I really enjoy it."

IS THIS YOUR BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500 AND WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A FAVORITE? "I don't know about a favorite, but I think we definitely have a shot. I just feel like this is the first time I've ever looked in my mirror and there are cars pushing. In the past, as a driver, you're looking and it's Kyle Busch or it's Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon. 'OK, I want to be behind those guys,' or I want to try to put myself in a position that they're pushing me, and this year I think the 9 car is one of those cars that some of those guys are pushing as well because it's a lot faster than it's been in the past. So, yeah, definitely, I feel like we've got a great opportunity on Sunday. Tons of things are gonna happen on Sunday, but, going into the race, I feel like we have a great shot."

DO YOU EVER GET ANNOYED SEEING THE HENDRICK CARS ALWAYS 1-2-3? "I think about that sometimes. I think everybody probably does. We got down here and the first practice it was 1-2-3-4 or something like that with Hendrick cars. They work hard. They stay ahead of the competition a lot of the time and that's what you have to do. We're always chasing them it seems like, but I feel like I'm in the best position I've been in in a while as far as at this race to have a shot to race with those guys and actually beat some of them."

HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT WHO YOU RACE BEST WITH AND DO YOU TALK TO THEM BEFORE SUNDAY ABOUT HOOKING UP? "I think Kurt Busch, he's been fast. I think the Penske cars are really good, so I look at those guys as cars to be around, and I feel like I've been racing either in front or behind the 14 with Tony as much as anybody. I was in the Shootout and we raced a ton together there, and then the 150 yesterday we were pushing each other back and forth there, too. But for some reason, we got to the front yesterday, he cleared the way in three and four and I just followed him through, and then we went on from there. So I think there are some good cars that my car will work really well with."

IF YOU HAD TO PICK TWO OR THREE GUYS AS THE ONES TO BEAT AND A COUPLE OF DARKHORSES WHO WOULD THEY BE? "You can never count Jimmie out, so that's one. Kurt Busch, to me, was the best car yesterday out of every car in both races. I thought Kurt was the fastest car, and Stewart is there every week and he's there every Daytona 500. He hasn't won one, so you know he's gonna be right in the mix. After that probably Hornish for the guys that probably have a shot. I'd say Hornish, Keselowski -- those guys were all in my race so I know how quick they were just racing around them, and Ambrose maybe. It seemed like those guys were all pretty good."

ARE YOU PLEASANTLY SURPRISED YOU SEEM TO HAVE THE BEST FORD? "I felt like Carl probably had the best Ford in the Shootout and yesterday my car felt really good. Kenseth looked good at times. Biffle looked good at times. AJ, Elliott, I think there are a lot of them that were right there, and just by kind of talking with everybody it seemed like Carl was a little bit tight. His car didn't turn as well as he wanted, so we're starting the best out of all the Fords, but I think there are probably gonna be four or five really fast Fords all day Sunday, so I should have some partners. If we hit on ours right, I think we could all probably get together and hopefully stay in the front."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Kyle Busch