Dover: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Fresh off his third win of the season last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600, Kahne stands sixth in the series standings after 12 of 36 events. Kahne is 292 points behind...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Fresh off his third win of the season last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600, Kahne stands sixth in the series standings after 12 of 36 events. Kahne is 292 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and just 21 points out of fifth place. In four career starts at Dover, Kahne's best finish is 16th. The 26-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., will be making his 85th career start Sunday. He has four wins, 23 top fives and 29 top 10s to go along with nine poles.

COMMENT ON RACING AT DOVER "It should be a good one. Dover has always been a great track. It'll be a great race to win. It's always been a good surface for me. I enjoy racing on the concrete at Dover. There's a lot of places you can move around out there to try to find speed, and we're definitely going to be looking for it."

WHY DO YOU NEED TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE? "Basically because it's so hot in the car. You're sitting there for so long and you're so focused. Your heart rate is up and you're trying to get every position you can. You need to be in good shape to have a good heart."

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU DEVOTE TO WORKING OUT? "As much as I can. We all are so busy. I bike ride and run. I don't do any weight lifting. I mostly do cardio."

HOW DO YOU KEEP MOMENTUM GOING FROM TRACK TO TRACK? "It's fun to go from track to track. You have to drive the car different and communicate different on what the car needs and what you're looking for. I really enjoy going from track to track and trying to keep the momentum going. It's easy to keep it up if you're running up front."

COMMENT ON TONY STEWART'S SITUATION "Personally I just try to go out and get what I can get, get everything the car has and try to get those top 10s and lead a lap or two and get those extra bonus points and get what your car will give you. That's what Tony tries to do, too. You try to get every spot you can, but sometimes things happen and he's a little bit injured right now, but he'll be fine. He'll be back in a couple of weeks. It doesn't affect our team very much. I talked to Tony a couple of times this week to see how he was progressing and how his shoulder was doing. You want Tony Stewart out there. He's part of this sport and he's one of the guys who has made this sport as big as it is right now. You want him out here. He said he was getting better every day. He probably won't be able to do the whole race this weekend, but I'd say he'll be back for all of Pocono and Michigan."

DOES IT MAKE YOU THINK TWICE ABOUT RUNNING IN OTHER SERIES? You just have to think about it. You don't want to put yourself in a bad position. Obviously as a racecar driver you're always trying to win, so sometimes it's hard not to put yourself in a bad position. Personally I'm going to race a little bit this season and race some sprint cars. I raced at the Chili Bowl earlier this year with Tony, and things happen. You hate it happens, but things do happen. Hopefully Tony is done getting hurt."

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRACK? "Indy, just because I love Indy. I wanna win at Indy really bad. I lived there for three years, went to the Indy 500, Brickyard 400. I think it would be great to win there. The tire test was good (at Indy). Goodyear is still making another tire we're going to bring back. We found part of the tire, part of what we were looking for, and they were happy with that. Now they're just going to finish up with the compound. When we go back to the test with everybody else we don't know what it's going to be. We haven't been on it, but it's definitely going to be better than what we had this last week. We compared it with last year's tire and it should end up being a pretty good tire. I was real happy we were able to work with Goodyear and they listened. I listened to them and we just tried to get the best available tire. The tire is harder than we had last year, but it's softer than what we tested this last week."

IS THIS RACE AS PHYSICALLY DEMANDING AS CHARLOTTE? "Charlotte is such a long race. It gets to you, but just focusing and staying with it, the track was really good down there and fast. This place will be tough. It looks like it's going to cool off a little bit Sunday. We'll be in the high 70s, and that'll definitely be better than the 90s."

COMMENT ON POCONO "Pocono is one of those tracks that you just get hot at. It's not the toughest track on you physically for strength, but for heat and going down those long straightaways the air doesn't usually leave the car. You get real hot. It's a long 500-mile race. The next two weeks will be some pretty good races. It's always hot and humid when we go to Pocono."

COMMENT ON THE CONSISTENCY OF THE 9 TEAM THIS SEASON "We've definitely been consistent. We've had great racecars, cars that have been capable of finishing in the top 10 all but once this season. We've had a couple of problems that resulted in bad results, but for the way the car's handled, the communication of the team and the way the guys have prepared these racecars has been awesome every single race. I think we can keep doing exactly what we've been doing for awhile. I don't see any reason why we can't. If everybody keeps focused and working like they have been, it's going to be a fun summer."

WHAT'S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE THIS SEASON? "The biggest change has probably been the team and the attitude of the guys and the preparation of the racecars. They're doing an awesome job. We had some good tests in the off season with Kenny Francis (team director). I just felt like we hit it off quick, hit some new setups quick and we've been building on that, making things better and better. Kenny has played a huge role. He put this team together two years ago. It showed how good they were with Jeremy Mayfield. To put these setups in these cars and the communication we've had at the racetrack during practice and during the race has been awesome. He's been a big part of what's going on. It didn't him long to figure out what to give me. I don't know how he knew what to do, but it's worked out well. The communication has been really good between us. That's probably the biggest thing."

DO YOU THINK THE PENALTY FOR THE 5 TEAM AT CHARLOTTE WAS JUSTIFIED? "I think he'll think about it next time before he does that. That was a huge penalty. I was thinking $25,000 because that's a normal deal for something like that, but I guess when you have an official holding your arm and you pull him out on the racetrack you get a bigger fine."

DO YOU THINK DOVER OWES YOU ONE? "I don't if any track owes someone one. I can go out there and hit oil the first lap again this year. You just never know what's going to happen, but this is a track I've liked since my very first Busch race in 2002. It's been a track I've always enjoyed racing at and would like to win at someday. As good as our cars are running right now, as good as our Dodge Chargers are, this could be the race. I don't have any problems here. It's a great track. You can move up the track if you get tight and run high or low, pass cars whenever you want to if your car is a little bit better than theirs. It's just a fun track to race."

IS THERE A LOT OF INTERACTION AMONG THE EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS TEAMS? "Since the beginning of the year the 10 and the 9 have worked close together. Rodney (10 car team director Childers) and Kenny Francis have really worked well together. I think that's why the 9 has won races. The 19 over the last couple of weeks has been working with us, too. Over the last few weeks I think the three teams have been working well with each other, have learned a lot from each other and it's going to keep growing. Just figuring out what each tire is looking for... When we were at Charlotte it was a really hard tire on a new surface and between the three teams we put all our information together and found out what the tire was looking for and we all had strong runs there."

WHY WASN'T THE COMMUNICATION WITH THE 19 EARLIER? "I really don't know why it wasn't, but the 10 and 9 were there. The 19 was there. They'd come in and get some information. We'd go back out and we just never had anything to say, but I think now all three teams are running a lot closer setups and really working better together. I don't know why it wasn't there at the start of the year, but it is now."

YOU'VE WON 3 OF 12 RACES. HOW DO YOU IMPROVE ON THAT? "That's great. It's more than I would have expected at this point of the season. You want to keep improving. You want to do everything you can to win more and keep finishing up front. I think the biggest thing we can improve on is not having a bad spark plug wire, which was no fault of anyone at Evernham Motorsports, it just happened. Not having an engine problem at Martinsville, make sure the driver doesn't make any mistakes and crash a racecar. Those are the kind of things we can keep working on and improving. The way we've been running and finishing and our results when we are running, I don't know if we can improve that. We've got to keep working hard to improve it, but it's the little things that'll hurt you more than running consistently like we have been this year."

IS IT TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT THE CHASE? "Yeah, it's too early. I definitely think about it and think about making sure I'm there and making sure I race the right way for the next 10 races to make it to that point and have our Dodge Charger in that race, but I haven't really looked past that. It's just all about getting the points each week and making it to the final 10. We're halfway there, but we've got a long way to go."

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SCOTT RIGGS NOW THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW AT THE START OF THE SEASON? "He's a better driver than I thought he was. He's a better communicator with the team. I didn't know the guy at all. He's a cool guy. He's got a family and he tells me about his son every once in awhile and his family. He's a good guy. I really like working with Scott and having him as part of Evernham Motorsports. When was he up front and going for wins in the past? I never really thought except in the Busch Series. Now he is. Talking to him and knowing what my car feels like and what his car feels like too and watching him race, you know he's got some good car control and he gets after it and he's aggressive. That's pretty cool. He's a great driver. In the Busch Series I always had decent racecars and my team worked hard to give me the best racecars we could have, but when I jumped into the 9 car it was like I was in the best car out here. I've got the best team, the best racecar and the best mentor, Bill Elliott and I was happy as could be to be there."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart