Kahne - Friday media visit


Kasey Kahne, Red Bull Racing Team Toyota
Kasey Kahne, Red Bull Racing Team Toyota

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team

How did your knee surgery go and how are you feeling now? “It went really good. I thought just doing it Monday right after the Talladega race would be good. I’d have plenty of time to recover. They just had to fix my meniscus again. It actually feels pretty good.”

Will your knee injury affect you in the race car? “I hope it doesn’t, but it’s still a little bit sore. I think it may be sore throughout the race, but really as far as affecting the speed or the way that the race plays out, I don’t think it will affect that at all.”

Is there extra emphasis on piecing together solid notes at Richmond for the race here in September? “I think, this is always to me -- this race right before the Chase starts is a really critical race for myself. It always has been. We’ve always been one of those cars right on the edge of either making it or not. So, this is definitely a place where we really need to take some good notes this weekend, try to learn some things, have a good race this weekend and be prepared when we come back because there will be a lot of guys with a lot on the line here.”

How long have your knees been an issue? “I always had really good knees and then just last year they started really bothering me. It had been building up for a while. I got them fixed in November. And then my right one, I reinjured it in probably about January or February -- probably February and I’ve just been waiting until I had time to get it fixed. It’s been kind of a pain, but at the same time it’s part of things happen. It’s part of bones and cartilage and all of that stuff I guess. I’ve had some struggles with it for a little while, but I think hopefully it’s fixed now and be good to go from here on out.”

How did you reinjure your knee? “I finished a workout and I slipped off the bench and just my feet kind of gave out -- I don’t know how I did it. I mean, I know exactly how it happened, I don’t know exactly why. It just happened and I laid there for about five minutes, and then the last two months I’ve hoped that it would get better and it didn’t so I got it checked again and I had blown basically the stitches that held it together that they fixed the first time. I had blown those stitches out, so it was just hanging in there again.”

Did your slip cause you to blow your knee out or did you blow your knee out and then slip? “It was definitely because I slipped and then put the pressure on them and it couldn’t handle it. They were fine until that.” Are you a clumsy person in general? “I’m not that clumsy, but I just kind of slipped. You don’t have to be clumsy to slip. I just slipped.”

Why do they call Darlington the track that is too tough to tame? “That track can sneak up on you. It’s just a really fast track. It’s banked. You run right by the wall. Just a little bit of focus -- get battling with another car, you can get in the wall so easily there that it’s just a tough track. Most cars get some marks on them before the race is over there. You need your car to be a solid car. It’s a tough track. It’s a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite tracks because it’s demanding, it’s technical and things can happen really quick. So, I think it’s definitely one of my favorite tracks.”

Do you feel your team is where you need it to be to be successful for the next three months? “No, we are definitely not. We’re working hard to be there. I think the short track stuff is probably where we are at our best right now. I think we have some work to do on the higher load tracks -- the Darlington’s, the Charlotte’s, the Dover’s -- those tracks coming up. We still have some work to do on them. I think the Phoenix and Richmond and New Hampshire and some of that stuff -- we should be alright. The guys know it. There’s a lot going on, a lot that Red Bull is working on. Hopefully we’ll be better prepared by the time we get to Charlotte.”

How challenging does it become to gain spots as the points wind down? “I think it definitely becomes pretty challenging. I feel like I should be a lot worse in points after two of the weeks that we had, and we didn’t even get passed by that many cars for as bad as we ran. I think it’s going to be just as tough to make those points back up and get back to the top-10. I think we have a good chance to do that. Everybody is working hard. We’ve been spending a lot of time together as far as meetings and just trying to figure out how to make our Red Bull Toyota as fast as we possibly can.”

You have to get every point that you can because there’s guys that race like that every weekend so if you’re not you are losing.

Kasey Kahne

At what point does your team need to be more aggressive and take more chances to try to get wins or in the top-12? “I think it’s right now. I’d say it’s right now. It’s just how you race. You have to be aggressive. You have to get every point that you can because there’s guys that race like that every weekend so if you’re not you are losing. It’s how it is right now. We got in that deal at Talladega and they put my car back together and went back out and gained, I think, three or four positions -- three or four points. That’s the kind of stuff that you have to do.”

Did the wrecks at Martinsville or Talladega aggravate your injury even more? “It definitely didn’t help, but I’ve had it planned before the Martinsville wreck. When I got done there everything was pushed over to the side, which a lot of the pressure goes through the knee. It didn’t make it any worse by no means. The damage was done and it was just a matter of fixing it.”

Have you been able to start running again? “No, I biked on Wednesday for 20 minutes. That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in two and a half months. Just started on a bike and on a bike it’s pretty good. Just go from there. It’s kind of discouraging because I enjoy running around and doing a lot of stuff and when I have to move at a slow pace it’s upsetting. It’s what it is. It should be healing and be in good shape here soon.”

Do you enjoy racing at Richmond? “This is a great short track. It’s a track that puts on an awesome show -- Saturday night. I really like racing here. I know a lot of the guys in this garage like racing here. It’s pretty cool. It’s a fun place to be at and you will definitely see some bumping and banging. A lot of guys driving really hard and just doing all they can to lead and get the best finish that they can.”

Are drivers more aggressive at short tracks? “No, I think it’s pretty much everywhere we go. It’s just how it is. It’s the guys like Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards that are on it every single weekend and if you back off a little bit you’ll really get beat up on. They make the sport what it is. We have to step up if we want to run with them.”

How much are you working with Hendrick Motorsports this season? “I haven’t really worked with them a whole lot. We stay in touch, kind of what’s going on and how our stuff is going and how theirs is going and the sponsorship stuff that they’re working on there. Really, it’s pretty much been the 4 car. That’s what I try to focus on. We kind of look way out there and think Hendrick next year or something like that, but I’ve been pretty much staying with the Red Bull guys and trying to focus on this. We need to run better and we need to win races.”

Do you have to wear a brace on your knee? “No, by bracing it doesn’t really make it feel any better. It’s just inside. It’s not really a twist. It just has to heal.” Did you have to make any adjustments to the seat in your race car after this surgery? “I sat in the car a couple of days ago and it felt fine. I think the pressure of going through a corner -- your leg like leaning on the side -- that might affect it some and just going up and down with your throttle the whole night. You know, it might gain a little swelling and be tight or something. But, that would be about it. It should be good.”

Do you have any more surgery scheduled? “No. I hope not. I don’t want any more surgeries. I’m over it. It’s not that much fun.”

Do you expect to have any other issues following this surgery? “No. It was one thing and then I reinjured it. I slipped, so I reinjured it. So, without me doing that, I’d be running right now. I was -- before I did that I was already running four or five miles a day feeling really good. And then I did it again. So, I don’t feel like it’s an issue at all -- I just got to let it heal and not hurt and it and it will be fine.”

Were you hoping things would just get better before this surgery? “Yeah. I was just hoping. I wasn’t going to get it fixed during (the season) -- I needed an off-week, I needed a little time. There was only one time slot basically for that and that’s what I waited for. I hoped, but I knew I hurt it. You don’t lay on the ground for five minutes in pain and you know something’s wrong.”

Kasey Kahne, Red Bull Racing Team Toyota
Kasey Kahne, Red Bull Racing Team Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

When did you first get hurt? “I don’t really remember. I think it was probably like right after Daytona or something. Probably that next week, or somewhere in there. It seems that way.”

What do you think are Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s chances of winning the fan vote for the All-Star race? “I’d say his odds are pretty good of it happening. Or, he’s probably already got it locked up. Just like he’s got -- he always wins the fan stuff. He’s looking good for that. He’ll be in the All-Star race. In fact, don’t you have to finish that other race too. I’d rather win the race to make your way in that way because you never know what’s going to happen. There are things that sometimes you can’t control. Then he won’t even be able to use the fan vote. It’s an exciting weekend. The All-Star race is always a lot of fun. It’s pretty cool.”

When did you get injured the first time? “Last year.”

Did you get injured the first time playing basketball? “Yeah. Last year.”

Were you injured the first time at your house? “Yeah. It was. Just playing around -- tore it screwing around”

How bad was the injury and are you glad it has been fixed? “You should have seen me at Bristol. I couldn’t even walk for like 10 minutes after the race. It feels better than all that now. It’s only been a week -- 10 or 11 days. And, it already feels better. I’m glad I got it fixed. I needed to. I was tired of limping.”

What was your first experience at Darlington like? “Surprising -- it was so hard to really imagine that you could drive that a hard at a track. You could pick up the throttle that fast. There are so many little things at that place. It’s on edge. It just catches so fast. To me -- it was one of the coolest -- it’s like Bristol, the first time you go there. As a driver, you’re just surprised with some things and how fast you actually can go around the track.”

Did you ask other drivers about Darlington and what advice did you receive? “Oh yeah. I think just the main stuff. Be ready for anything. Don’t be out of focus at all times you give up a little bit. You’ll be in the wall.”

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Eric Gilbert , Kyle Busch
Teams Red Bull Racing , Hendrick Motorsports
Tags red bull racing team, richmond 400, sprint cup, toyota