Hendrick, Kahne team teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: And have you talked to anybody yet at RPM or Ford and do you expect to be locked out of any meetings or discussions about chassis or engine development moving, forward the rest of the year? KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I...

Continued from part 1

Q: And have you talked to anybody yet at RPM or Ford and do you expect to be locked out of any meetings or discussions about chassis or engine development moving, forward the rest of the year?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I don't know, I've definitely talked to RPM. I've talked to all the people I needed to talk to. And we're all on the same page as far as trying to finish strong, and working together and trying to do the right thing. And I have a lot of faith in the 9 guys, our whole Budweiser team. I have a lot of faith in Richard Petty Motorsports, and what they're doing right in working with Ralph Grayson (ph), Ralph Spinway (ph). I'm excited about the rest of the year and I think we can do some good stuff, and still make the chase if we can get our season turned around. So I'm looking forward to it. I don't know what's going to happen as far as myself and the shop, and how the meetings will work. But as of right now, I think everything will be just like it's been the first couple months for this season.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Kasey, when did this all start? When did you first start talking to Rick and how quickly did all this come together?

KASEY KAHNE: Well, the, you know, truthfully, it started, I don't know. It's been on my mind for a long time on what my future would hold, and what I would like to do. And I think as a race car driver, Hendrick Motorsports is one of the places that, you know, that you always dream of racing for. You dream of driving for Mr. Hendrick, and so, you know, I've thought about that for a long time, and where I want to go. But you know, it's been in the last, really the last couple months that we've kind of put this deal together and worked on it. And it's just, you know, when I talked to Mark Martin, and I, you know, learned a lot about the place from Mark and talked to him about things. And you know, he had a lot of really good advice. As well, Jimmie Johnson has helped me a lot over the last couple years with a lot of different things. And then, you know, they were all supportive of this too. So I just felt like, you know, it's a neat fit, it's a great fit. And I look forward to it.

Q: Did you have Hendrick in mind as where you could possibly want to land at the very beginning?

KASEY KAHNE: Beginning of what?

Q: This free agency period, or whenever you made up your mind that RPM's not going to be the place for you?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, like I said, it's a place where, you know, a race car driver, you know, if you have an opportunity to go there, you definitely need to look at it and think hard about, you know, what your future holds. And I didn't know at first. I didn't know if that would be a, if they would want me, or how all that works out. So I talked to all the teams. I had really good conversations with everybody, and really enjoyed all that learning about each team and each organization and the owners there. And this is just the one that worked out.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Thank you. Rick, we know you said earlier that it was your responsibility to find Kasey a ride for 2011. And we know that he starts with you in '12 and it goes through '15, but what about 2011 with Hendrick Motorsports, specifically? What's his contract status with your organization? Does he have one for '11 or no?

RICK HENDRICK: Yes, yes, he does. He has a contract.

Q: Okay. So that contract says then, that it's, you're going to find him a ride?

RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, it's my responsibility to get him in a position. Course, he'll have to, he'll agree to it, but it's a stop gap to get us to '12. And you know, that's just the commitment we made to each other, and if we've got to have a rough year, and I don't foresee it to be a rough year, but it's kind of a year of transition to get, to hopefully have him for five, six, ten years, then I was willing and he was willing to go that route.

Q: Wonderful. Thank you. Congratulations.

RICK HENDRICK: Thanks, sir.

Q: Actually, I was going to ask Rick the same question as Marty, but I'll ask Kasey a question. Just Kasey, can you just talk a little bit about, this is very, very early in the season and we still have 29 races left, plus a couple others with the team that you're with. Will you have to devote a lot of time to the Hendrick and 2011 stuff that you think may take away from your effort with in the long season that's still ahead?

KASEY KAHNE: Well, you know, that's another thing that I'm not real sure about how that's going to work out. Yet. Just because all this was thrown at us so quickly. You know, Marty Smith breaking that yesterday like he did, is just, there was a lot of little specifics that we hadn't got to yet, you know. And all I know for sure is I'm going to put in a lot of time at Richard Petty Motorsports this year and make sure that we finish off there. Put in the effort that I've put in for the last six years. And I want to win races.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Thank you. Kasey, this situation is sort of like knowing you're really going to get a big Christmas present, but Christmas is a year or two away. How tough is it going to be for you to be patient through this period knowing that no later than '12 you're going to be in really good cars?

KASEY KAHNE: Well, you know, I'm in good cars now. I know I'll be in good cars next year. So it's not, to me it's more of a relief to have this out of my mind. You know, I just get to focus on racing this year. I know where I'm headed in '11. I know where I'm headed in '12, at least who I'm working with, with Mr. Hendrick. You know, and I'm happy with that right now, and in the next couple months we figure out more, but I'm happy with where we're at right now, for sure.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Yeah, this is for both Rick and Kasey. Basically, what it seems like you're going to be doing then is next year, you'll start with a team and then in 2011 you'll start with another team. So you're kind of starting over twice in a two year period. Knowing how long it takes to build chemistry and all, it seems like a bit of a sacrifice to get to where you want to go. Is that, was that a lot of consideration for either one of you when you were making this decision?

RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, well David, with me, you know, it is and it's one of those things that you, you look at what the end results are. You look at the fact that here's a 29 year old, 30 year old man, now that's again, has won, you know, 11 races and sitting on 16 poles, and can really get the job done. And he's been through a lot of transition, and it hasn't been all on the same deal. And you know, he's got so much talent then if I have to wait, if I have to assign his deal or whatever we got to do to get us to that point, it's going to mean years down the road of stability in racing in this organization. And he's committed to the 9 car. He runs awful good over there. And he's going to go back to work driving that car, and we're going to figure out the interim deal and then we'll go full bore. And you know, it's just, to me it was worth it. Whatever I-- whatever amount of sacrifice or whatever you want to call it, or time and effort, because you don't have a Kasey Kahne that comes along every day that has the whole package that fits with our guys, that they like a lot, and I like him, too. And you know, it's just you don't have those come along all the time.

Q: Kasey?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, that's something that I thought about. You know, I think, you know, working with, you know, a crew chief and a team for a while, definitely, the communication definitely gets better. You understand each other better, and that's something that you have to, have to learn. But I'm also looking at the future, and looking at down the road, and I feel like, I feel like I can adapt pretty quickly. I've always been able to adapt pretty quickly to situations, whether it's good, bad or indifferent. You have to adapt as a race car driver, and I've felt like I've done a decent job at that over the years. And I'm going to have to adapt a little bit and that's just something I'm going to go through and I'm going to figure out how to do it the best I can and as quickly as I possibly can.

Q: Great. To follow up, is there a scenario, I guess Mark Martin, said this is the guy you need. Where you would ask Mark or Mark would even volunteer to step aside and be the guy to go over to Stewart-Haas so Kasey could move in that ride and not have to make that adjustment, or are you set and determined that he'll be in that car through 2011?

RICK HENDRICK: You know, Mark has said he wants to drive that car, and that's the way we're headed right now.

Q: Thanks a lot, guys.

Q: Thanks. Congratulations Rick and Kasey. You've touched on options, or you touched on what could happen or you don't know really what happened. What are the viable options for Kasey for 2011? Is it Stewart-Haas? Is it, I mean is there is another alliance or another place or is Kasey maybe running a minimum, not a full schedule, but a partial schedule in some way, shape or form with one of those other, those places? I mean, what are the, what are the options presented to you right now?

RICK HENDRICK: Well, you know, we haven't, again, you know, I know you guys feel like we're stonewalling you and that's not, that's not the case. Marty's such a bloodhound that he, you know, he comes, the ink's not dry and he's out here reporting it. And we can't, there is no perfect scenario in this deal. I mean, there is just no way to say, this is what you're going to do. Because we don't, we're just barely into the 2010 year, and a lot of things change, a lot of things happen. But the commitment is there from Hendrick Motorsports to Kasey and from Kasey to us. We want to be together that bad that we're willing to say, okay, let's make, let's just, let's forget about, you know, trying to figure it all out right now. This is what we're going to do, and we'll figure it out later. And that's what we did. And we'll figure it out later. I mean, I'm just telling you, have not, we haven't talked to anyone in detail about what we, what could be done. If people have called, you know, saying, "Hey would you consider this?" So we're just, I think you know, what Kasey wants to do is go back to the track and get in that 9 car and give them everything he's got. And then I'm going to huddle with my guys and we're going to decide the best route and the options that are on the table. Again, to sit within the NASCAR guidelines and we'll all make the best decision and we'll move forward.

Q: Thank you, Rick.

RICK HENDRICK: Sir.

Q: Thank you. Rick, a couple questions for you. First of all, Jack Roush can be a vindictive person. He cut the string early on Kurt Busch and let him go. If that was the case, could you kind of move the program up faster for Kasey? And I guess, the second question, over at Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Gibson was able to bring his entire crew from DEI and, you know, not have to start fresh. He had the resources there. They had the relationship where they could kind of go forward. Is that, you know, could that be a situation or scenario that you see for, with Kasey Kahne in the future?

RICK HENDRICK: Again, you know, there are so any possibilities, they're just too, it's not fair to anyone to even speculate because we don't have, we don't have option a, b, c and d right now. We're just too fresh into the deal, and we've kind of decided, let's take a couple of days here and get our breath and then we'll go back at it. So you know, there are just, if we laid out ten options, there will be some more that'll pop up. So you know, we just have to wait and see.

Q: And to follow that up, you are going to be in a precarious position though, because where ever he does land, you're probably going to need you know, 50 to 60 guys to run that team that season. Where do they come from? And then what do you tell them after the final race of 2011?

RICK HENDRICK: Well, you, we don't know for sure that that's going to have to be 50 to 60 guys and that they'll, you know, we don't know any of that yet. There may be an opportunity that, that nobody here has even thought of yet. So you know, we just got to wait and see.

Q: Thank you, sir.

Q: Rick, I just wanted to ask you or try to pin you down so that there's no, we can't come back later and say maybe your words could have gone one way or the other. Is there, are you certain Kasey won't be in the 5 car next year?

RICK HENDRICK: You know, Jenna, I'll tell you, if, it would have to be Mark Martin's thing that he does not want to do what he told me he wanted to do. It's that simple.

Q: Okay. Okay, thank you.

RICK HENDRICK: Okay.

Q: Hi, Rick. My question is, will this unfold at Hendrick Motorsports again or could we possible see you do a deal like this again in the future, where you sign a driver and maybe have to hold them off for a couple years until a seat is available once again?

RICK HENDRICK: I think this is a unique situation. If you look at our guys, where we are right now, with all the years that we have on the contracts, I think once Kasey's in the car our stable is set. You know, there might be a development driver or it might be something else in a young guy, whatever, but I feel like once Kasey's in the seat of that 5 car, we're set for a pretty good amount of years. Probably, I'll probably retire before I need anybody else.

Q: You don't see this type of contract becoming the norm for your organization?

RICK HENDRICK: No, I, you know, you have to think a little bit outside the box sometimes. And I've watched this in Formula 1 again, I've watched it in IRL, and you know, it's just one of those things that you know, you just, you have to, if you want to commit far enough out to make something happen, then it's kind of, you know, that's what we had to do. So again, I think it shows that our commitment to Kasey, because again, of all the things I've all ready said. He fits, he's got so much talent. We know Mark says, and I asked Mark point blank, "Do you want to go any further? Tell me, can you do more than 2011?" He said, "No, I cannot. I don't want to do any, a full season past 2011." So Kasey and I made this commitment and it rests on my shoulders.

Q: And finally, Kasey, is there any fear at all that the No. 9 car might become a R&D car or do you feel really comfortable that you can finish out the rest of the season as you are right now?

KASEY KAHNE: That it might become what?

Q: A test team, where they might give you experimental stuff to work out?

KASEY KAHNE: No, I don't have that fear. I feel like, you know, we have a great team and Richard Petty Motorsports wants to win races and the 9 guys can. So I think they're going to be behind us and we're going to work hard together and we're going to finish strong.

Q: Thank you, gentlemen.

Q: Yeah, real quick question, a follow up for you, Rick. And I know that Kasey talked about Budweiser. What's your relationship with Budweiser right now? Have you had discussions with them about moving the sponsorship over? It would seem to make sense, but I wonder if a, that makes sense after having, after you have had a chance to chat with them?

RICK HENDRICK: I've had a good relationship with those people over the years, but I've had no conversations. Again, nobody, I've talked to nobody yet.

Q: Thanks for clarifying.

Q: Hey, this question, the first part is for Kasey. Kasey, did RPM offer you an extension or offer you a contract to stay?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, they were one of the teams that you know, that I've been talking to about the future. And you know, I just felt like I've been there for six years, it'll be seven at the end of this one and I just wanted, I want to do something different. I want to make a bit of a change and see what it's like somewhere else. So that was my decision.

Q: The second part of the question is for Mr. Hendrick. You've made it clear that you don't know about Mark getting out of the car and Kasey getting in. So if Kasey does ride with Stewart-Haas, as you refer to them as a retail customer, that means that this driver would be on loan to Stewart-Haas. Do you think maybe you're setting a precedent there, something outside the box, as you say?

RICK HENDRICK: Well, yeah, that happens. And actually I've talked to Chip Ganassi and I had a conversation a while back and Penske and I have and I've see it happen in Formula 1. And again, it's, you know, it's, you're, it's not the kind of thing if you had your rathers, you'd rather everything line up together, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. And you know, so it could be.

Q: Okay. Thank you.

RICK HENDRICK: Sure.

Q: Mr. Hendrick, I'm not sure how NASCAR view this, so maybe this is something that you can clear up. I know that you're listed as the car owner of the 24 and the 88. So in NASCAR's eyes are you at your limit or not?

RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, the way that works, and my dad was actually the owner of the 5 car. And that's been that way since the inception, you know, the beginning of the, I'm sorry the 25 car. And then it became the 5 car. But NASCAR's rules are if you're in the same facility and you have the economic benefit, I'm not sure how all of it works, but I know that it's, you know, it would not qualify for us to have different ownership in the same building, and even though there are multiple owners.

Q: And then for Kasey, I heard an interview with you earlier this week, and you said this decision has been distracting you throughout the season. I was wondering now that the decision has been made are you able now to focus on the 9 or is there so much more that goes along with this that you're still going to be distracted throughout the season with it?

KASEY KAHNE: Actually, I haven't really been distracted. I've felt like I've you know, focused hard on the 9 and we've done a good job there. We've actually been really fast and, you know, in most of the races. We've had some things happen, some bad luck and also some things happen that were not good in the points. But we've, we won one race and came close at Atlanta. So we've been pretty good. I think what this does is it just, I just don't have to worry about, you know, I put a lot of time and effort and just thinking about the future. And I don't have to worry about that anymore. I have that done. And so now, I just focus on driving. But you know, I don't think it's affected me, I just think it's kind of a relief to get it over with.

Q: Okay, thanks.

JESSE ESSEX: Thank you, George. This concludes our teleconference. I appreciate the media's time today and wish everybody safe travels to Texas.

-source: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Chip Ganassi , Jack Roush , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Richard Petty Motorsports