Fontana II: Winning team interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Winner, moves to 30 points out of 10th place "It's a pretty crazy feeling. I woke up this morning and was pretty excited I won last night, but we had a really big job to do today. Today's...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Winner, moves to 30 points out of 10th place

"It's a pretty crazy feeling. I woke up this morning and was pretty excited I won last night, but we had a really big job to do today. Today's race meant so much to next weekend and to our whole season to have a shot next week. I was pretty pumped up this morning when I woke up and definitely happy when we won last night with the Busch team. To do it tonight, it's a great weekend. I came here telling myself 'you gotta win, you gotta win, you gotta lead laps. That's all you can do if you want to make this Chase.' You can't expect to win. You can't expect to lead the most laps just because you want to. It's way too tough competition. We just hit everything right this weekend. It was a huge weekend. I've never won at California Speedway, so to win pretty close to home, Seattle isn't too far from here or Enumclaw, Wash., it was pretty nice to get a west coast sweep. My dad said he was going to get the broom out last night. He was pretty pumped up when he called me last night. He went home yesterday. He was with me during my two foundation deals this week, the second one was at Irwindale Speedway, the drifting event. He went home yesterday morning. He had some things to do. He said he was going to watch every minute of the race on TV. I'll bet he's pretty upset now, but he did tell me last night he was going to put the broom in the front room just in case. He was telling me I'd better sweep it."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TRYING TO QUALIFY FOR THE CHASE?

"You just think a lot. You think about not making mistakes, not doing anything wrong, just trying to be as aggressive as possible, but at the same time you have to finish and you have to finish up front. Just a lot of things you think about all week long. It'll be another week like that. I was looking at my calendar and I have a pretty open week until I won both of these races. Now I'm going to have a bunch of interviews and things this week, but it's still an open week for appearances and things. It's going to give me plenty of time to think about what we need this next weekend and just relax and be prepared for Saturday night."

WAS THIS ALL YOU COULD HAVE HOPED FOR TONIGHT?

"This is all we could do. We did everything possible. We gained the most points we could possibly gain on a weekend. We cut it down. Those other guys we're going against, they're in the top 10, top 12 for a reason. You're not just going to score 80 more points than them on a weekend. It's not going to happen. They're up there for a reason. We just need to do our best next weekend and see where the points end up. Hopefully we'll be on the right side of it. Hopefully if we lead laps and run up front again, it's going to be close, but it should be exciting, that's for sure."

HOW DO YOU WIN WHEN YOU HAVE TO WIN?

"I don't know how that works out, either. We haven't won a race since June. To come in here and know we needed to win and know we needed to lead laps and do it, I think it's just a good weekend. Things change around, especially in NASCAR. It's a humbling sport. You have your highs and lows. We had our highs early in the season. We had our lows in the middle of the season. Hopefully we're getting back on the highs. We need to just get enough points to get in that Chase. Then from there, we'll be on a high all the way out hopefully."

"I knew we had a top-five car all night long, but early in the race when it was real hot out the front end was sliding a little more than I wanted it. As the sun went down Kenny kept making adjustments and it kept getting better and better. That was the difference in winning right there. Early on sometimes you can't get that out of a car. Today it kept getting better and better. The adjustments were definitely working."

COMMENT ON THE SPEEDING PENALTY AND WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN DOES THE TRACK IMMEDIATELY GET MORE GRIP OR IS IT A GRADUAL THING?

"The penalty, when I did it, I couldn't actually believe how I did it because I was running the same speed all night long. There's just two speed lines about halfway d own pit road that are close together. After I thought about it for a second I calmed down and slowed the speed down for our next pit stop. It wasn't that big of a deal. We were able to pass cars pretty quickly and Kenny took two tires on the next stop, and that was big. We passed a lot of cars on pit road. It just depends on what track you're at. Every time it changes, it could be a little different, but more times than not when the sun goes down you pick up grip. When it's 130 degrees track temperature, that's slippery. If it's 100 degrees you've got more grip than that, so I was waiting for it. I knew about 7 or 7:15 that hopefully we were going to get better."

JEFF BURTON, MARK MARTIN AND TONY STEWART ARE RANKED 10TH, 9TH AND 8TH. TALK ABOUT TRYING TO PASS THOSE GUYS TO MAKE THE CHASE.

"They're going to be just as good as Kyle Busch, and Kyle Busch will be just as good as those guys. You've got to do whatever to run up front. It's going to be tough. Our car is good at Richmond. Tony Stewart is always good at Richmond. It's going to be quite the battle."

HOW DO YOU KEEP BUILDING MOMENTUM?

"I'd say a fourth at Michigan and a 12th at Bristol and now winning here is a sign of good things. We were running well the week before. I was ninth and got off course and finished 22nd. The week before that I went from 22nd to seventh, eighth or ninth, somewhere in there. I was racing with Tony and Carl and got in the wall on the last corner. For about five weeks straight we've been running in the top 10 or just on the edge of that. Prior to that we were off just a little bit, but we battled back."

ARE YOU ANXIOUS TO END THE PRESSURE THE CHASE CREATES?

"I know how we practiced the last three or four times I've been there and how I ran with Kenny Francis there this year. How he ran there in the past. I'm happy we're going there with a good race car. Back then I struggled there the first race when we were right there on the edge of the points, and we finished 29th or somewhere."

WITH ABOUT 10 LAPS TO GO THREE ROOKIES WERE AHEAD OF YOU?

"I was catching them pretty fast. I knew I could get second or three, but there was no way I could catch Reed (Sorenson). That was a long way on fuel. I didn't know if he could make it."

KENNY FRANCIS (Team Director No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)

"It was pretty interesting how much stuff we changed in this race, spring rubbers, we probably moved the track bar an inch and a half or something. We did wedge, tire pressure, we did a lot to adjust the car to keep up with the track. Fortunately we came out on top at the end."

EXPLAIN SOME OF THE CHANGES YOU MADE?

"As far as the adjustments I was talking about, these cars are really sensitive, especially in the races. You've got to be pretty careful on what you adjust. You can dial yourself right out. I think you saw the 21 car in the Busch race last night make a small adjustment and go straight to the back. You've got to be careful, but then if you're too careful you don't keep up with the track. The track is changing all the time as it builds rubber up on it as the temperature changes. You've got to make sure you're keeping up with it and we wanted to make sure we stayed ahead of it, not behind it. We were doing two rounds where you normally do one round and things like that. We went ahead and put a spring rubber in and lost track position to get the adjustment done. We took chances you wouldn't take if we'd been sitting in fourth coming in here. It would have been a lot different. You'd probably race a lot different."

"I think we've got our car ready, but we've definitely got some decisions to make. We tried to test at Milwaukee last week and we got rained out the day we were there. Our teammates tested the next day, so we're trying to get some information from them. We're ready. We've just got to make some final decisions on what we're going to take as far as the setups."

COMMENT ON THE THREE ROOKIES RUNNING AHEAD OF YOU LATE IN THE RACE

"We definitely wanted to win the race. It was pretty risky for Reed to stay out, but they almost won the race. Just came up a lap short. I could tell he was saving fuel the way I was catching him."

RAY EVERNHAM (President, CEO Evernham Motorsports)

"The No. 9 car did exactly what they had to do. They came in and led the most laps and won the race. Kenny and Kasey and the 9 crew did a great job. Overall, I'm really happy. It was nice to see all three cars up in the top five running 1-2-3 there for awhile. I think that's our first time in our history as a three-car team that we've kind of earned that. It might have happened some place under caution, but it was great. Unfortunately the 10 and 19 slipped back a little bit there at the end. I think it shows the strength of a three-car team, and we are working as a team. It was just nice to see the Dodges up front again."

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW TO GET READY FOR RICHMOND?

"A large part of that is already done. Kenny and his guys do an awesome job of getting prepared and having cars ready to go. We have had meetings about what are our No. 1 priorities at Evernham Motorsports. Right now it is getting the No. 9 car back in The Chase. Then it's getting the No. 19 car back up in the top 35 and trying to get the 10 and 19 back in the winner's circle. We've have some awful good meetings with the other teams and drivers so everybody pretty much knows about the strategy. They've test and they actually ran pretty well at Richmond in the spring, but that's where we had one or four engine problems. Most of the preparations have been done, and it should not be too much of a hectic week getting ready to go there."

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MOTIVATE THE TEAM?

"I feel as comfortable as we can be with the No. 9 car. If you can remember the guy that went to Richmond that time with all the pressure on him that had to win the race and lead the most laps, the guy calling the shots from the box that night was Kenny Francis. I think they went in 75 points down and pulled it off. Kenny has been through it He knows how to handle the pressure. We know you do all you can do. We've just got to go to Richmond like it's every other week and be prepared for whatever happens."

HOW DO YOU KEEP BUILDING MOMENTUM?

"If you look at the way they've performed , Evernham Motorsports as a whole, what's hurt us is we've had some engine failures, some crashes and our speedway program is not good. We've got to continue to work on those things and if we want to contend for championships we've got to not put ourselves in position to be wrecked, not have any failures and step up our speedway program. I don't know if it's a one-race momentum thing. It's great to come off a win. I know sometimes people feel that one race can break your momentum, but again, if you don't pay attention to stuff like that and look at statistics and look at the fact that you were running good, but...You control the stuff you can control and don't worry about the rest of the stuff. There's been a lot of good races, a lot of good cars that had flat tires. You just control the part you can control."

COMMENT ON DEVELOPING THE CHARGER

"We did a lot of off season stuff. We felt like that was the best way to go. I believed in the Charger. It was a good car. We did a lot of back to back testing and it didn't show the Intrepid was a better racecar and I thought bouncing back and forth was only going to confuse the issue. We needed to pick one and work on it. I did feel like that left us a little less confused than the other Dodges."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kyle Busch