KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT? "We're going to go for it. Our Dodge Charger is going to be better. I'm looking forward to it. I think we have a great car that will be good in...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT? "We're going to go for it. Our Dodge Charger is going to be better. I'm looking forward to it. I think we have a great car that will be good in the Shootout and the 150s and the 500. It's going to be a fun week. I'm real excited to be back at Daytona. I'm ready to go. We're going to do whatever it takes to get to the front in the Shootout. We'll be running our 500 backup car in the Shootout. We'll definitely do whatever we need to to get to the front."
YOU HAD THREE MAJOR PRESEASON TESTS AT DAYTONA, LAS VEGAS AND CALIFORNIA. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE PROGRESS? "We thought Daytona was by far better than what we had last year, so we're excited about that. I guess we were up and down at the Las Vegas test, and at California we were down most of the time. It got a little better the final three hours of the final day, so that was a bonus. It's been difficult to figure out the new Goodyear tire and to also figure out our new Dodge Charger."
TALK ABOUT WHAT SAMMY JOHNS HAS MEANT TO YOUR TEAM "Sammy is real aggressive at what he needs to do and to get information from both teams from Bill's team, just to trade information and to get the groups together and work hard to figure out what's going on. He does a real good job at what he does, and he's also a real good guy to be with. I enjoy Sammy doing the position he runs there."
BILL ELLIOTT SAYS YOU RUN FLAT OUT ALL THE TIME. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "He's probably right. I always try to go as fast as I can whether the car is loose or tight or whatever. You try to drive it as hard as it will go. It catches up with you once in a while, but you go fast a lot, too. Hopefully I'll be able to hang on to it and have a lot of good races doing that."
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE FROM LAST SEASON? "I think I learned the most in practices. When you're practicing you need to relay the right information to the crew chief and engineer when they're looking at their data to get a good setup for Sunday because you can only do so much to a car in six or seven pit stops on Sunday. The better you start the race the better your day is going to go."
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU MADE OVER THE WINTER? "The new Dodge Charger is going to be a great racecar for us. That will be a good change. We stuck with the main group we had last year. We've got a great crew chief. Tommy Baldwin and I really get along well. We work together well, and the engineers
are great, too. Ray (Evernham) made some changes around the shop area that will benefit all the teams. I think a lot of it is mainly the people we brought in and the team sticking together."
TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TOMMY BALDWIN "I think our personalities and just what we want to do have clicked. Tommy is a real smart guy. It's easy for me to pry into him and get information from him and be able to work with him. He will go after what he wants. I like that in someone and Tommy feels the same way about me with my driving. I'll do whatever it takes to get up as close to the front as I can. Our personalities go well together."
COMMENT ON NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURES "It's kinda like wait and see, but we made one run at California similar to what you can do to the car. There's a few more things you can do before qualifying and change back. It wasn't too bad. You're not going to be able to run that lap with the nose weight and be able to get the car down like you want to. You're going to have to be careful with the tire and valance. There are things you're going to have to think about, but we'll still be able to go for poles."
DO YOU HAVE A SHOT AT THE DAYTONA 500 POLE? "I don't know. I don't imagine we do. The guys pull together and always seem to get a little more out of the car than when we tested. Hopefully we'll get in the top 15 or so, but I'm looking forward to the race. I'm looking forward to drafting and the new Charger is going to be a good, fun car to run all 500 miles in and be there at the end."
HOW WILL YOUR SOPHOMORE SEASON BE FOR YOU PERSONALLY? "I'll just know more about what this week is about, what happens through the week. What happens throughout the week and the races that lead up to it. All the craziness of the week is exciting. It's a fun week of racing. It's a good time, and I'll have a lot more experience and be more prepared for this weekend."
HAS THE CHARGER BEEN QUICKER THAN YOU INITIALLY THOUGHT? "I think it was quicker at Daytona than I thought it would be. We've been testing since before last season was over, so that helped a lot. We're definitely ready. We're excited for the season to start. Everybody had to change with the spoiler change, so we're definitely ready. That's not going to put any team ahead of another. We should be ready when the season starts. We're testing Monday at Lakeland, Fla. We'll do a short track test to get ready, and we won't have to come back down here later in the season."
ARE YOU READY FOR SPEEDWEEKS? "I'm ready. I'm excited to get back in a racecar. That's the only reason I know. You're jumping at it. You want to get in and get back to racing."
IS THERE ANY EXTRA MOTIVATION BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T DO WELL HERE LAST YEAR? "It's the Daytona 500. There's a lot of motivation and excitement. You want to race good. Everybody wants to win the Daytona 500. It's an awesome week. Last year's race didn't go well at all, so we need to make up for that, have a good one and get to California."
WHAT'S THE FIRST DAYTONA 500 YOU REMEMBER WATCHING? "The biggest one I remember is watching Dale Earnhardt win his first one. For a lot of people that was probably the biggest. I remember Derrike Cope winning when Earnhardt had a flat tire. That was a long time ago."
ARE THE FANS DIFFERENT AT DAYTONA? "There are a lot of fans here. So many people are here over the week and a half time period. It's crazy how many people you run into. You can go anywhere and run into race fans. People come from all over the United States to this race. Everybody wants to get rolling. You've had three months off and everybody is jumping at it to watch a race."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY STRANGE EXPERIENCES WITH FANS? "The fans will run up on you at places you don't expect them. It's tough to get to the trailer anymore. Fans will jump the fences at night and come knocking at your door. I actually let a couple in one time. I was watching the Final Four and these guys came up and were into it. I have no clue why I let 'em in. We watched the game and then they took off. It was pretty cool, but fans will do anything."