Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, March 7,2006 KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne, a 25-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., ranks fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings after two races this season. He...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, March 7,2006
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne, a 25-year-old driver from Enumclaw, Wash., ranks fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings after two races this season. He finished 11th at Daytona and fourth at California. Kahne will make his 75th career Cup start on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
YOU WERE 34TH IN THE POINTS AFTER THE FIRST TWO RACES LAST SEASON. HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING FOURTH IN THE POINTS AT THE SAME STAGE IN 2006? "It feels good. I'm excited about the way we've started out the season. I feel like my team has done a great job preparing for the season. We've had some good races. We've haven't made any mistakes yet. We've been doing everything the way we've tested through the off season. To be fourth in points is good. It's very early in the season, but it's definitely our best start yet."
COMMENT ON THE BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL'S "DRIVEN TO WIN" EPISODE ON YOU WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 10 "The Biography Channel has done a NASCAR (segment) kinda showing how some of the younger drivers came up. I'm on it first tomorrow night. They went back to Enumclaw, Wash., where I grew up and talked to my family and friends and did some interviews with myself and my sister and Ray Evernham, just a lot of different people trying to figure out where I came from and how I did it and how everything's been going. Hopefully it'll turn out good. I think Kyle Busch and Casey Mears and Martin Truex Jr. have done it. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out and what my parents said about me. I don't know how much you'll learn. Some people probably already know and some people who haven't followed my career quite as closely will learn if they watch."
COMMENT ON THE POTENTIAL FOR A COLD TRACK AT LAS VEGAS "I didn't look at the weather, but that (chilly forecast) is interesting. It was a lot warmer when we tested out there. The tires get hot and slide around a lot more than when the track is colder, so if it's that cold on those days it'll just be faster. You'll have more grip. The front and rear of the car will handle better. It may be a better race. I feel like a lot of times when the track's real warm you get a few cars that really get it figured out and can kind of dominate the race. When it's colder sometimes you'll have seven or eight cars that are really good throughout the entire day."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO GET OUT OF DAYTONA WITH A GOOD FINISH? "For myself it's really good for confidence when I go to those racetracks where we've struggled at times being in other people's wrecks. To start out there and run in the top 10 most of the race.... You know we ended up 11th, but if things had worked out the way I was hoping we could have probably finished in the top six. Dale Jr. didn't quite get off turn 2 like he wanted to or like I wanted him to, either. He just didn't do it. I think we had a shot at finishing better than we did. It's just a great way to start off the year. To bring the car home in one piece that's something we haven't done at Daytona in awhile. I just feel like it was a great start."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM WILL STACK UP AT VEGAS? "I think the track itself and the groove and passing is really good there. Just in the two-day test when we were there there was plenty of room to pass other racecars. That's one of the funner tracks because you can move up to the middle or outside or wherever you want to go if you catch a slower car. It was like that in the test, and I imagine it'll be like that this weekend."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD QUALIFY FOR THE NASCAR HOF? "I think you need to win a lot of races. I think you need to win a lot of races and do things that stand out. There's a lot of great racecar drivers that deserve to be in that already and there's more right now in Cup also."
COMMENT ON YOUR SPRINT CAR TEAM "(I grew up) with my dad owning sprint cars and myself getting to drive for him. After moving from Washington to Indianapolis, I learned a lot about owning a team then and running a team. I've carried that on. It really hasn't been easy. We've bought brand new stuff for a couple of years and haven't had the races we wanted to. It seems like this year with Joey Saldana (World of Outlaws points leader after four races) driving and everybody doing a good job building racecars and having our new Mopar engines, it's turned into a better race team. We're looking forward to hopefully winning a lot of races this year. It made more sense for our team. We hadn't run any series yet. I guess there was some frustration with some of the guys in the World of Outlaws and they wanted a new deal. Steve Kinser was obviously behind all that to get the NFT going. Hopefully it works out well for them, but personally I'd like to see just one strong series, the best sprint car drivers in the nation be in one series. That's how it should be. Hopefully they get it figured out in the next year or so and get the best guys back in one series that travels all over the United States."
WHAT HAS IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST ABOUT YOUR CAREER? "Obviously the cars, I enjoy racing. I've done that since I was little. Now I'm at a great spot in my career to race in the top series. I really enjoy that. Probably the things that have really made it neat are some of the other things that come along with it like recently starting the Kasey Kahne Foundation with my sister. Because of NASCAR and Nextel those are the reasons I can do that because of all the fans out there. To start a foundation like that to help underprivileged kids really means a lot to me. Those are the things that stick out. Hopefully we can keep doing it and doing better."
COMMENT ON THE DIFFERENT CREW CHIEF TECHNIQUES USED BY TOMMY BALDWIN AND KENNY FRANCIS "Really I learned a lot over the last two years with Tommy and how I need to act as a racecar driver on the track and on the radio. I think that's really helped me this year with Kenny. There's a lot said for giving the guys that are not on the racetrack, the guys doing pit stops and making the adjustments the confidence they need to have those great pit stops. For me, I need to stay calm and stay focused. I think I've really thought a lot about that during the off season to stay focused. We have to stay focused in order to finish these races. Kenny Francis is real calm and he has a plan and it's worked out so far. The adjustments he's been doing to make the car better have worked out. It's easier for myself to stay calm when it feels like the car is getting better and I have something to look forward to throughout the race."
COMMENT ON THE DODGE CHARGER "I think the guys at Evernham Motorsports have done a great job building the best Charger up to this point that we've had. There's still a very fine line to make that car go fast and make it comfortable to drive. We're right on the end of that line. We could lose it next week or we could have a great race in Vegas also. It's a fine line. I think it's a lot finer line than Chevrolet and Ford have right now, but that's what we have right now, and we just have to make the best out of it. Hopefully we'll keep working on it and do that."
WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR OFF WEEKEND? "I had a really good off week. My sprint car team was racing out in Arizona and they had a couple of good races out there. I would have loved to be out there with them because I had the weekend off, but I don't get any time to go to Supercross races, so finally this weekend I did. I went up to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and hung out with Ricky Carmichael and his team all day Saturday and Saturday night and watched him win his 45th Supercross. It was pretty fun. I hadn't been to a Supercross in three or four years, so it was exciting to be down in the middle of it and be involved. I pretty much stuck with him throughout the entire day and night. I ended up with him at his press conference at the end of the night and everything. It was interesting to see how those guys go about their whole race weekend."
COMMENT ON YOUR SCHEDULE NOW "January and February seem like the two months we have more things to do than the other months. At least it's that way for me. We're through those months now. I feel like with the great sponsors and partners we have there are a lot of things I need to do for them. At the same time, there's a line of how much we can do each week. I work with the people at Evernham's to make sure they're not going overboard with me and having me do too much stuff every week. We have a full season to get it all done, so hopefully they don't jam it all into the first four months of the season. I definitely think there was too much at times, and that's why we're looking at it and trying to make it not like that this year. There were times last year when there was definitely too much going on at times. Now I feel like we're getting more organized where it's spread out like it needs to be."
COULD RICKY CARMICHAEL'S RACING BACKGROUND TRANSFER TO STOCK CARS? "Those guys are very talented. You can watch them and see how talented they are. Anybody that talented and likes going fast and doesn't have a problem racing close and jumping on top of each other just about when they're going off those triples and things wouldn't have a problem with any other type of racing. They just have to do it enough and get the experience you need. Someone like Ricky Carmichael, with the desire and focus a person like that has, he could probably do anything he wants. If he wanted to race NASCAR and put out the time and effort I don't see why he couldn't. Those guys are very dedicated to what they do."
DO YOU STILL HAVE CONNECTIONS IN ENUMCLAW? "I've been spending pretty much of my time back in North Carolina now. It's a nice place back here and a lot of my family lives back here now. When I go back home I hang out with my parents and friends. I don't have very been friends back there that I grew up with anyway. They try to come back when they can, but when I go home I spend most of time with my friends and people I don't get to see very often."
DO YOU STILL CONSIDER ENUMCLAW HOME? "Yeah, I definitely do. That's where I'm from and at some point hopefully I'll have a cabin or something back there. That's something I think I'll always enjoy, going back to Enumclaw where I grew up. There's no better place to grow up than that town. You just have to be so focused and that's what I'm doing right now. You never know. Some day I might be able to have a house or something there also."
COMMENT ON THE COMPETITION AT VEGAS THIS WEEKEND "We'll start out where we ended the test. I feel like we had a great racecar at the test. We'll just have to work hard. We have to keep making the right adjustments, and I have to keep giving the right information to Kenny Francis. He'll take it and make the right adjustments. If we do that we'll have as good a shot to win out there as anybody. I think the Gibbs cars are a great team this year, too. All three of those cars are going to be hard to beat. The competition is as high as it's ever been. I think we've just got to step up and do the job."
IS YOUR TEAM AHEAD OF WHERE IT WAS THIS TIME LAST SEASON? "Yeah, we're definitely ahead of that. The driver is more focused, and I just feel like things are happening smoother now. It's not such a new deal to me. It's smoother and I understand what's going on and I have a great team behind me. We just have to keep doing that and we'll be all right."