KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON THE DAYTONA 500 FINISH "I was just listening to my spotter. He was telling me low, high, where to go. I was going as fast as I could without hitting cars going through there. I got...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON THE DAYTONA 500 FINISH "I was just listening to my spotter. He was telling me low, high, where to go. I was going as fast as I could without hitting cars going through there. I got lucky, that's all there is to it. We finished seventh. We kind of rode around in the middle of the pack all day, and I was on pins and needles being in that part of the racetrack. We ended up pretty good, and we were excited leaving Daytona with the results we ended up with."
COMMENT ON COOL WEATHER FOR TODAY'S QUALIFYING "It'll make it fast. From what I've heard we've got a slipperier left-side tire than we had last year, so that will change some things up. The track will be fast. There will be lots of grip. We'll probably slide around a little bit because of the left-side tire, but we'll just try to get a good baseline for tomorrow's practice and Sunday's race. I'm excited to be back in California. We won the last one here and ran up front in the first one last year. We're looking forward to it. We're looking to gain some more points."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUR RACING HERE? "I like trying to go fast and getting our Dodge Chargers to handle the way we want. I like mile and a half and two-mile tracks. I've always been better on those tracks for momentum and keeping my speed up and searching for the best lanes out there. I'm looking forward to working with the team and working on communication and getting a great result. We want to finish in the top five and go for a pole and try to be there at the end of the race to have a shot to win."
COMMENT ON THE CALIFORNIA DRIVERS "I definitely think there are some good California drivers. They've shown that and they've shown they can be there every weekend, but I don't think about that. Jimmie has won here, Kyle, Jeff, all the Hendrick guys have won here. I think Washington drivers are as good as any of them. I always enjoy racing on the west coast and racing at this track. It's a fun place. I have some friends around here, and a lot of people from Washington come down because it's close to home. It's exciting. There's good racing at times, and we want to win. We did it last year and we want to do it again."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM LAST YEAR'S VICTORY HERE? "We learned a lot. I learned some things driving this track. The track usually changes a little during the off season. It'll be a touch different. We had different tires, and that'll change things, too. We'll just have to get all the information we can over the next two days and apply it toward Sunday and see how we end up."
YOU RAN WELL LAST WEEK WITHOUT TEAM DIRECTOR KENNY FRANCIS. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE TEAM? "I think we're one of the best teams in Cup if not the best team, and I think we just need to keep working together. If we do that we'll get through these next four races without Kenny just fine. He's still a big part of what we do and when he comes back we'll just be stronger."
COMMENT ON THE LAST LAP OF A RACE "I've always understood it as kind of NASCAR's call. I hope it works for me when they make their call. It hasn't before and last weekend at Daytona it worked out great for me and Kevin Harvick. The truck race, he didn't improve his position because he went under the line. He went under the line, but he didn't need to. He (Johnny Benson) could have stayed above it and still run second. There are just different ways you look at everything. I think NASCAR looked at that and said it didn't matter where he was he was still going to run second. I go to the yellow comes out. If they don't want to throw the yellow then I'm going to keep racing. If they throw the yellow then I'll slow down. It's up to NASCAR. Whatever they want to do I'll do the same thing."
WHERE WERE YOU ON LAST RESTART AT DAYTONA? "I was 18th and I was 17th getting into turn three and seventh going across the line. I had a good run, so I think with no crashing I would have finished about 15th or 16th. They started wrecking and I squeezed my way up to seventh. It definitely worked out for us. We gained about eight spots because of that. I was weaving in and out of cars and made it to the finish line. I didn't know what to think There was no time to think except to just miss cars and slow down and speed up. I was just trying to do whatever I could to get through there. If they want to throw a caution I'll slow down. If they don't, I'll keep going. I've been burned before by them throwing a caution two seconds too early, and last week we gained eight spots because they didn't. I think it all evens out in the long run, and I think NASCAR does what it thinks is the right thing. It's good for us sometimes and it's bad for others, but it usually equals out."
WHERE WERE YOU BURNED BY A CAUTION? "I never really was burned, but at Talladega if the caution had come out one second later I would have won and Vickers would have finished second. At Daytona the year before I was in 11th place coming off turn four and Biffle spun and I finished 11th. Everybody raced all the way to the start/finish line even with the caution, and I was sixth at the start- finish line, so I was sixth or 11th and I was 11th because the caution came out way behind us. I never got burned, but I've lost spots or gained spots and I felt like the other day I gained them all."
HAVE YOU PUT THE 50-POINT PENALTY BEHIND YOU? "Knowing how well we run here and what we did at Daytona, we're not many points away from where we need to be. I'm real happy with what's been going on so far and where we're at. I feel like this weekend could get us even some more points. It's a real good track for Evernham Motorsports. All three teams are going to be strong. This is the second year I've worked with this team and Kenny Francis. We've learned a lot together. The car of tomorrow is going to be something new for everybody. I think Evernham Motorsports has done a nice job to be prepared with that car, too. We need to be in the top 10. We need to be battling in those final 10 races. If we can do that, then it'll be a good season as long as we're still winning races. I think we were one of the best teams in The Chase last year. We just didn't finish as many races as Jimmie finished, but we were as strong as Jimmie and Stewart at every track. We just didn't finish as many races as they did. I think we're definitely one of the teams that can go for the Cup this year and build on what we did last year and take it to the next level."
IS THERE ANY AREA YOU NEED TO IMPROVE? "I need to improve on road racing. I qualified in the top five at both races last year, and that was really good, but we didn't race well. We finished well. We were in the top 10 on the last lap at Watkins Glen, and I screwed up and got off course. I need to get my average finish on those tracks better, but other than that we're good. We just need to be consistent and have some luck fall our way. That's what happened at Daytona."
COMMENT ON COT TEST "I just want to see how it works at Bristol and how it feels at Bristol and how we compare to the other teams as far as what everybody has done with the COT so far. I think Evernham Motorsports has done a lot of testing, and we should be prepared for it. I hope we're more prepared than everybody else. I think I've driven it about three times. Scott Riggs has driven it a lot more and Elliott has driven it about the same as I have."
WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ON THE OFF WEEK? "I'm in a wedding. My cousin (team spotter Kole Kahne) is getting married. I'm going back to Enumclaw, Wash., and spend four days there and enjoy his wedding and enjoy some family and have a good time."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/ UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON RACING AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY "I'm glad to be here. We had a great Daytona 500. We came out of there with a sixth-place finish and it was a great run for us. We don't feel like we're digging out of any holes or anything like that. We're coming to a place where we ran great last fall. We've got a lot of horsepower this weekend, and we've got a great car. I'm just looking forward to Sunday. This is a great place to come. It's a great market. We have a lot of great sponsors in this area, and we have a lot of great drivers from California. I think it's a lot of fun for those guys. To race this close to L.A. is important to a lot of people. It's a lot of fun to come race here."
WILL THERE BE A SECOND GROOVE? "Oh yeah, this is a great racetrack. We're going to run on the bottom, middle and top, and that creates a lot of passing. As a racecar driver you really love that. I hope it's warm here for the fans. For us, the hotter the better. It makes the track a little slicker and makes passing a little easier to do. I'm looking forward to the first four or five races of the season and build a solid foundation and build off that."
TALK ABOUT JUST SURVIVING AT DAYTONA "That's restrictor-plate racing at its best. You can have a great car all day and not make it or you can work on it and peak at the right time. We just happened to peak at the right time and run in the top 10 the last 30 or 40 laps. We were in the right place at the right time. From where we started last week to where we ended, I think was great for me and the 9 both. To finish sixth and seventh and to get out of there not in a hole is a big lift. You're in Daytona for a long time, and if it ends on a good note it makes this trip not as long."
ARE YOU MOTIVATED TO FINISH BETTER THAN YOU DID HERE LAST YEAR? "You always want to finish better than 23rd. I've won this race before, and we had a great chance to finish second or third here last fall. We had a lugnut get hung in a brakepad with about 10 laps to go running third. We know we can be competitive at this track. We think we're going to be competitive this weekend. My teammate won here last year, and we've got pretty much the same car and notes, springs and shocks. We're going to work together with the 9 and 10 and hopefully we'll all have good runs."
IS THIS A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? "It's big and spread out and cars get separated a lot. It makes it that way. We're going to do the best we can with adjustments. I've got Ray Evernham on the box again this weekend and he's the master at calling races. I'm sure if there's a fuel mileage part to it we should be fine. I don't worry about it. I just drive and tell him what the car's doing and he takes care of the rest. He did an unbelievable job of filling in last week at the Daytona 500. He kept me very optimistic and calm, and it ended up like he said it would. We ended up with a great finish and we got out of there with a lot of good thoughts."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THERE WAS NOT A CAUTION AT THE END? "No, and as a fan of NASCAR and as a competitor now, I'm glad they didn't throw the caution. This is our Daytona 500. This is our Super Bowl of racing. Don't make it where NASCAR should be that much involved in who won the race. Let the boys race and it ended up being a great finish. I'm a sports fan. Every NBA finals I've ever watched, the referees the guys play a little bit more. Every NFL Super Bowl you've ever seen they let the defensive backs play the receivers a little tighter. It's not that it's special rules. It's a big game, a big stage. Let the boys race for it. There were not going to go through a wreck and finish. They were ahead of it, so let them boys race for the win. Sometimes I think it depends on the situation. As a driver if you're in a wreck, you do your job to get out of it or miss it. If you're in it you stay buckled up and stay as safe as you can for as long as you can. Every driver has everybody else's safety in their best interest. This is just my opinion. I think that was the right call for the race and the situation and the circumstances. I think they made the right call."
COMMENT ON BEING KASEY KAHNE'S TEAMMATE "I love being his teammate. He's a great person and a great friend. That's the most important. He's got a lot of fire, and he understands these race cars a lot. We love working with each other. There are no egos involved. He's one of my biggest fans, and I'm one of his biggest fans. We want to help each other as much as we can, and it's been a great relationship so far. We're all pretty confident coming here to California. I would say last year was Kasey's break out year."
DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON YOUR DAYTONA FINISH BEING SWITCHED FROM 10TH TO 11TH "It was a bummer. I thought we were going to get our first top 10 in the first race of 2007. We didn't so we'll have to keep trying. The good news is we're off to a good start, and we need to keep that going all year but it's really important at the beginning of the season. I feel my team is a lot stronger. Already here at California running the Busch car, we were fourth over there and then coming right to the Cup car, I think it's going to help us over here."
YOU FINISHED 11TH AT DAYTONA YET YOU'RE NINTH IN POINTS "Yeah, that's kinda strange. It was just different. We were in the top 10 most of the day and we didn't get the finish I thought we would. A lot of guys snuck in there at the end and a lot of good guys didn't get close to the top 10. We'll take it. It was for the Daytona 500, and everybody was just driving crazy. It's a little different situation here at California. I think you can see which teams are strong and which teams are struggling."
DO YOU THINK A CAUTION FLAG SHOULD HAVE BEEN THROWN AT THE END OF THE DAYTONA 500? "I don't know. I leave that up to NASCAR, and they always make pretty good decisions. It was nuts. I went back and looked at video trying to decide. I couldn't figure out how they decided where everybody was at. Maybe they need to come up with something on the last lap from turn four or some line so everybody races back to the start-finish line. You only have that problem at Daytona and Talladega where the cars are in such a big pack it's hard to figure out where everybody ends up. I was a little disappointed with not getting a top 10, but it was a pretty good weekend down there."
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU DIDN'T GET A TOP 10? "I was just riding around down there most of the day I thought we would end up better and we didn't. We made one mistake. We took four tires and should have taken two."
DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "I love coming to California. I've run well here in the Busch car. I've got two top 10s here. We're fast in the Busch car again. We're a lot better than we were here last year in the Cup car. I came with two different crew chiefs last year, and we struggled in both races. Already there's a huge improvement. It's just a building process. There's a lot more confidence in the company and Juan has brought a championship mentality. If we can finish in the top 15 in the next three or four races that'll keep us up in the points and we can build from there."
-credit: dodge motorsports