Daytona II: Kahne - Thursday media visit

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN THE GEM PROGRAM RIGHT NOW? -- "I'm pretty confident. I think that we've come a long way since last year and the start of this year. I think that we have a handle on some of the...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)

HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN THE GEM PROGRAM RIGHT NOW? -- "I'm pretty confident. I think that we've come a long way since last year and the start of this year. I think that we have a handle on some of the tracks and can get better. I think on the other tracks, we're really close (to getting better). I think Daytona should be good for us. The longer the season goes on, the better we should be."

ARE THERE ANY CONCERNS WITH GOING TO TRACKS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE COT? "With the road racing, I feel like we're pretty decent. Kansas and Chicago are tough tracks. I've never been that great at either one of them. We've had (good) moments, but it will be different (in the COT). I think that some of the things that the (GEM) guys have done in the last month will help at those tracks. I think that we'll be real good."

HOW WILL THE HANDLING BE DIFFERENT HERE IN JULY AS COMPARED TO THE DAYTONA 500? "Handling. Handling is big in the 500, but this race is hot and the track has been hot for months. Some people will be able to go faster and be on the throttle more than others. You'll be lifting (off the throttle) no matter what. That's just how this track is."

WITH THE 40 TEAM WITHDRAWING FROM CUP COMPETITION, DOES THAT CONCERN YOU AT ALL ABOUT YOUR TEAM? "It's tough for those guys. It's tough for (Dario) Franchitti and the guys that are on the 40 team. Gillett Evernham has done a good job with sponsors and partners. We've kept a lot of sponsors we've had a long time. Budweiser is one of the new sponsors, but I think that they're very happy and we're going to keep them and work with them for a long time. I think there are just certain teams in certain situations. I feel like the people at Gillett Evernham have done a very good job at keeping the sponsors. I think we can keep our current sponsors and get more as time goes on. I fell pretty confident with what we (sponsors) have. I feel bad for some of the other teams that aren't able to get some of those bigger (sponsor) names."

HOW MUCH DOES THE NIGHT RACE ELIMINATE HANDLING ISSUES HERE AT DAYTONA? "Not much. This track will be real slippery. You just really need to work on getting the car to drive around the corner and turn and not be too loose. It's all the things that always go on here. It will be more so than the 500 for sure."

DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE RUMORS OF A NEW TESTING POLICY FOR CUP? "I think that it's different for different teams and people. I feel like there's a way that (NASCAR) can help us and not do testing full time. There are tracks that I feel that we need to test at. To me, the best races this year have been the ones that we've been able to test at. I'm not saying the last lap (of the race) and how close it was, I'm talking about throughout the whole race and how competitive it was. And those are the race tracks that we've tested at. It's because of the new car and it's new for everybody. It takes time for everybody to get where they need to be. The tracks that we get two days of testing on, I feel like they've been better race cars. (Testing) helps for sure right now. It's definitely good."

DO YOU THINK MORE TESTING WILL HURT THE LOWER FUNDED TEAMS? "The majority of teams in Cup, if they're racing, they can do it (afford additional testing). How much are you going to put on your team? How much are you going to put on your drivers? Crew chiefs? Guys building the cars? It's tough when you test a lot. It's a lot tougher than not testing as much. I feel like there's got to be a happy medium. Where we're at now is good. I don't think we want a ton more testing, but I just feel like it helps. And if we have the right tires and things, it helps the outcome of the race. It helps put on a better show for the fans and teams and drivers and everyone who is involved in NASCAR."

HAVE YOU TESTED MORE THIS YEAR? "I'd say it's about the same. You can go test all you want, but if you don't have the exact tires and the exact race track, what are you really learning? It tough to think that you've learned something (testing) and then you show up at the track and you're like, "Wow, that wasn't even close," because the tires were different. The tires control how your car goes around the race track. If the tire changes, like they've changed for this race as compared to the 500, it's going to be a lot different on the setup. Nobody knows what to do right now. It will just take a little bit of time to go out and practice and hopefully get it figured out."

DO YOU KNOW WHY GOODYEAR DID CHANGE THE TIRE? "There were people having right-front problems. We didn't have any problems at all during the race or practice. Our tires were really good and we were really strong. We ran up front because we just didn't wear our right-front tires out as much. There were people wearing (the tires) more than others and (Goodyear) is trying to fix that problem."

SO GOODYEAR HAS COME BACK WITH A HARDER RIGHT FRONT TIRE? "I think so, but I don't think that we've run this tire anywhere. It's hard to say how it will drive. It's definitely a tire that is tougher and stronger for this race track."

DO YOU THINK THE DRIVERS OF TODAY HAVE TO HAVE MORE SKILL THEN THOSE OF THE PAST? "I don't think so. The drivers of today are very good at what they do, but the driver's of 50 years ago are a big part of what we are able to do today because they were so good (back then) and put on such a good show. I would say that it's very similar."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup