Fontana II: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne ranks 11th in the series standings, 90 points behind 10th-place Mark Martin. The 26-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., finished fourth earlier this season at California ...

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

NOTE: Kahne ranks 11th in the series standings, 90 points behind 10th-place Mark Martin. The 26-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., finished fourth earlier this season at California Speedway.

WILL YOU BE MORE AGGRESSIVE THIS WEEK? "This week you're going to just have to be smart and get what we can get. The track is going to be slippery like always. We'll do what we can to come home in one piece and hope we're in the top five and lead laps. Next weekend at Richmond we'll have to be aggressive. Everybody else is going to be the same way, so it'll be quite the battle out there. It depends on what situations you're in and the time of the race it is and what's on the line and where you're at in the points. You're going to have to really know where you're at in the points. This weekend we just need to gain points and worry about next weekend when it comes."

COMMENT ON THE 26TH RACE AT RICHMOND "It's a track we can really go fast at. We were really good there at the start of the year. We ran in the top three there all night. We were just four or five laps down throughout the race because of an earlier problem. It's a track we can definitely run good at. We have to do that and get some good breaks and get some luck on our side and gain a bunch of points. I think it's fine (for the last race to qualify for The Chase). You could basically put it anywhere except on a road course."

WHICH DRIVER IN THE TOP 10 DO YOU THINK YOU CAN PASS? "I'm looking as far as fourth or fifth place as cars we can catch in these final two races depending on what they do and depending on what we do. It would be nice if we could cut it (90-point deficit on 10th) in half or maybe even more than that. That would help a lot going into Richmond, but we get what we get out of this weekend. We'll just try to do our best and finish in the top five and lead laps. If we don't do that, we're going to have a hard time at Richmond."

COMMENT ON THE DRIFTING COMPETITION LAST NIGHT AT IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY "They all did a good job. We all got better every time we hit the track. I think Greg Biffle and Casey Mears probably had the most fun, at least they acted like they did. I had a blast. I think Bill Elliott did a good job, and the crowd loved him. A lot of Japanese guys were cheering for Bill Elliott. They loved him. It was a blast. The V-1 guys were really good. We learned a lot from them. We had a full house. It was cool, and we had a good time."

WHO WAS THE BEST NASCAR DRIFTER? "It was close. Robby Gordon was really good. Mears was good. I got better as time went on. I don't know who was best. I won out of the NASCAR guys, but people think it might have been fixed because it was for my foundation. I don't think it was fixed. I think I might have won."

COMMENT ON OUTLAWS RACE AND TONY STEWART'S ACCIDENT "I felt bad for him. He hit the wall. It wasn't his fault. Something happened. You could tell something happened and he got into the wall. We went on to race and finished third. We had a good time and had a sellout crowd there, too. I think there was about 10,000 people at Skagit Speedway, and that might have been the biggest crowd they've ever had. We've done 'em four times this year and had four top fives. It's been good. That's the four races I'm going to do. I didn't clip or hit any thing hard."

HOW AWARE OF YOU ABOUT THE GUYS YOU'RE RACING IN THE CHASE DURING THE RACE? "You totally maintain on where you're at, but if the red 8 is in front of you know you need to pass him or if Mark Martin is behind you that's good. You're just kinda watching and you know where everybody's at. You're not really focused on what they're doing. You need to understand where they're at, but you're focused on what you're doing during the race."

SEVEN DRIVERS ARE WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE. IS THAT GOOD? "We've finished well the past two weeks and have lost points. We'll see what happens with these other guys. Hopefully we'll have two good races and see where it puts us. It's going to be close, no matter what!"

YOU'RE TIED FOR THE MOST WINS THIS SEASON WITH JOHNSON AND KENSETH. THEY'RE IN THE CHASE AND YOU'RE SCRAMBLING. IS THAT FAIR? "I think it's plenty fair. They've won four races and in their other races they've been consistent. They've been up front all year long. We've won four races. We were up front at the first of the year and then we were in the middle of the pack for about eight races. We fell out of a couple of them, too. We just didn't do our job to be in the top two like they have."

WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE NEXT TWO RACES? "Get everything we can get. I think California is a good track for us. We ran good at Michigan. We ran good here at the start of the year. We've got two good racetracks. Everything shows us we can run well at these tracks and we can gain some points. We'll just try to do that."

HOW CAN YOUR TEAMMATES HELP YOU THE NEXT TWO WEEKENDS? "I think mainly off track they can help us get our Dodge Chargers dialed in. We're all doing a little bit different things today and tomorrow to try to figure out the best way to

go on Sunday. They can help me with that. They're going to do that. Giving me all the extra space they can on the track is the only thing they can do for me Sunday. We've raced all year long with me and Scott having similar setups and the 19 was always different than we were. The first two races, Michigan and Bristol, we all three had similar setups. I think we can learn a lot from Elliott just in his third race here for sure. It's definitely good to have a third car close to the same setups I run because we haven't had that any other time this year."

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE CHASE? "We need to make The Chase. We need to win races. We've won races. We just need to make The Chase now. If we don't do that it's not good for the organization. It's not good for Ray Evernham or any of us drivers. We just haven't gotten our jobs done. Our team is good enough to be there. I don't know why we're not in the middle of it. We just missed it a few times. I spun off course and hit the walls. We just lost too many points. We'll win races as the season winds up, and we'll be good. If we don't make The Chase it'll be disappointing. What are you going to do? Shoot yourself? I'm not going to. I'm going to try to make it in next year."

WHAT RUNS THROUGH YOUR HEAD? "I really don't have anything running through my head other than run good. You just race and do all you can do and whatever happens happens. I do the same thing I've done all year long and if it works, it works. If it doesn't it doesn't. That's all we can do."

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT RICHMOND? "I'm not worried. I know we can run good at both of these tracks. I know 90 points is a lot of points to make up in two weeks. That gets you thinking, but I'm not really worried. We have a lot of things that can happen good for us or not."

IF IT COMES DOWN TO RICHMOND DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY? "I really haven't got past today and tomorrow and Sunday. We'll try to finish up this weekend and we'll be thinking hard about what we can do there."

WHAT DOES RAY EVERNHAM TELL YOU? "He knows we're good. He knows our team is good and he knows we can do it. We'll just have to do what we've been doing and finish up front."

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EMOTION AND THE TEAM'S EMOTION RIGHT NOW? "I'm fine. I did some fun stuff this week. I think the team is good. We tested Monday and have been doing foundation things all week long and raise a

bunch of money for kids. I'm actually feeling pretty good about myself right now. We've had a great week."

WHAT ABOUT THE PRESSURE? "The pressure will be here in a little while and then be here all weekend. Sunday there will be a lot of pressure. I don't know what to do. I don't want to lose any sleep over it and hurt myself for being tired and things like that. I just want to do what I do every week and whatever happens happens."

HOW WILL YOU LOOK AT THE SEASON IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE CHASE? "It would be pretty bad if we didn't, but I still really think we can get there. Two races is plenty of time to make up the points we have to make up. After Richmond if I'm not there, maybe we'll figure out that side of things, but I still really think we can make it. I have a great team. I know I can drive these two racetracks as good as anyone here and I know my cars are going to be good. I think we've got a good shot. We've just got to get some luck on our side and finish up strong."

WHAT'S PUT YOU IN THIS SITUATION? "Just having a bad couple of months. You can look at two months of racing where we didn't finish in the top 20 basically. That's a lot of races there. Whether I hit the wall at Indy or we had a problem somewhere else at Pocono and lost a bunch of spots at the end of the race or just finished 23rd because we didn't have a car that could finish better than that, that's where it's at. Matt Kenseth's run in front all year long. He's been there every race."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR DESTINY IN THESE NEXT TWO RACES? "I feel like I can do a lot to get ourselves in there. We can run up front and win here and there or just run up front at both tracks. That will be all we can do. If that doesn't get us in The Chase, then we'll look back and say if we had done this there, it might have got us in. It's hard to look back. You just have to look forward and hope you get in it. We've done the best job we can do all year long. If we win two races and still don't make The Chase, that's because the top 10 in points are strong. They're guys that are really good at what they're doing, and that's why they're in the top 10. If we win two races and get in The Chase, that's awesome. That's what we deserve."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Casey Mears , Ray Evernham , Mark Martin