Loudon II: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE THE LAST FEW DAYS? "It's been pretty nice really. To be in the Chase, I'm happy about that and to know we have a shot to do better than 10th. It's been cool. We went to New...

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

WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE THE LAST FEW DAYS? "It's been pretty nice really. To be in the Chase, I'm happy about that and to know we have a shot to do better than 10th. It's been cool. We went to New York and had some really good dinners up there with the France Family and the Nextel people and the other nine drivers. It was a good time. I had some fun with it. I'm a lot happier doing this than sitting at home like I did the past couple of years."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT A RULE CHANGE FOR THE CHASE TO ALLOW WINS TO COUNT MORE? "The way I look at it, I don't care what they do with the points. That's up to NASCAR. Right now it's so much more exciting than it was four years ago. The way they've done the points, the way you fight to get in the top 10. You can have five wins and still battle if you're not consistent enough. The championships Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won, you have to be consistent. I think that still should be some what of wins the championship. That's what's going to win it in these last 10 races. I think that's what should get you into The Chase also. We weren't consistent enough for about six weeks there and it dropped us to 11th in the points. We got good in the last four races and got right back to where we're at. I just think there has to be some consistency to get in The Chase and to win the Nextel Cup. Right now it's about consistency. It's about winning. It's about a lot of things, and it's pretty exciting. I think it made for a great Richmond race and these final 10 are going to be just as exciting."

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK OF GIVING THE WINS A LITTLE MORE OF AN EDGE? "If you look at it that way, I would say you could lose a lot more by falling out of a race by having an engine failure or a flat right front. All types of different things can hurt you, and a win doesn't help you as much as you can get hurt by other situations, so maybe 10 points, 20 points, I don't know. I guess there's a lot of ways you can look at it. The way it is right now, I'm happy we made it in and weren't the one with five wins and missed The Chase. That's good, but yeah, maybe a few more points for a win. Maybe that makes that guy get in comfortably or if you have the most wins and you're within so many points you're in. I don't know. There's so many ways you can look at it. Winning should mean a lot. It means a lot to the fans, the drivers, the teams, but it's not a huge benefit in the points."

DO YOU EXPECT AN EMOTIONAL RACE HERE SUNDAY? "I don't know what to expect. I was with the top 10 all week and it's the calmest, nicest I've ever seen these guys or I've ever been around them. I'm usually around them at the racetrack. We had fun. We all kind of hung out, and it was fun. It was weird. It was different than what I've been around the Jeff Gordons and Kyle Busch. I hung out with Kyle. I hung out with Denny Hamliin. We had a good time in New York and everyone was calm and happy. This weekend could explode. Who knows?"

HOW DO YOU CHANGE GEARS FROM MAKING THE CHASE TO WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I feel like we need to keep doing the same things we've been doing the past four weeks, and that's keep running hard every lap. I think I raced as hard as I could the past two weeks, every lap but the final four at Richmond. I kinda backed off there. Other than that it's been wide open. Kenny (team director Francis) has made a lot of adjustments and not just a half turn here and a half turn there. It was one turn or two turns. You feel the changes a lot quicker. It's been a big help, so yeah, we're going to stick to that plan and we're also going to stick to the plans of making the right decisions and not taking ourselves out at a place where we shouldn't."

IS THERE ANYWHERE WITH THE CHARGER WHERE YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS AHEAD OF THE OTHER DODGE TEAMS? "The thing I see is you don't know how people race their cars, how they set them up. I have no idea how anybody does it except our three cars. I think one thing about Evernham Motorsports is you can take either one of the three teams and especially the 9, and we can usually make it better and better throughout the night. By the end of the race we're probably as close as we've been all night. Other teams whether it's Chevrolet, Dodge or Ford that don't get better, they fall off. I don't know if that's setup or adjustments. It could be either way. I know last year we struggled with setup and our car would be back by the end of the race even making the right adjustments. You can also just miss on adjustments and not be as good by the end of the race. There are different ways that can happen, and I would say that's where we're at our best over some of those teams. Our setups can last throughout the whole race and our adjustments can make our cars better."

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT WINS BEING WORTH MORE IN THE CHASE? "I would say it would probably be the same if you'd do it in the first 26 than if you'd do it in the final 10 also and do a little more for a win. Make that spot pay more for points and if you'd get three wins you'd be looking really good for points in the final three races. If you didn't get any, you'd really need to work to get a win and that's probably what the fans come to see. They come to see wins. You don't see the crowd any louder than win the guy wins and does his burnout or gets out of his racecar. That's a pretty exciting part of the race. If they made some more points there it might make it even more exciting."

COMMENT ON YOUR WINNING STRATEGY "The last four races we were points racing as hard as anybody, but we were also racing for wins as hard as anybody. There was nobody else on the track trying to lead more laps than I was at those races. Kyle Busch was doing it but not because I wasn't trying. Every lap I was wanting to race with him and pass him. We were able to do it at California and at Richmond he did it more. I really don't know. That's a tough question. Everybody does say that. I hear it all the time, too."

WHAT DOES POINTS RACING MEAN? "Consistency. That's what I would say. You have to finish. You can't go out there and try to make a pass too early and spin out or something like that. You have to make it when you can clear the guy and when you know you can pass him and not get in a bad situation."

TALK ABOUT THE INTENSITY LEVEL IN THE PAST TWO RACES "It was up. It was everything I thought about, everything I worried about for a month. After I got a little behind after Indy and Watkins Glen, it was intense. It was exciting. I was glad I was in a situation where I could do that. It was a lot better than being 12th or 13th where I had no shot at making The Chase. I think I had this question a lot of times before last Saturday night. It was 'how did you sleep last night?' I was like, 'oh, I slept fine. Everything was good.' And I did until last Saturday night. I realized Saturday night how bad I was sleeping the past month because I was out like a light that night. It felt pretty good waking up at noon the next day."

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR YOU LOOKING TOWARD THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think Talladega is going to be our most challenging track to get that top 10, top 15 out of. Other than that, just showing up at the race track and understanding what I need from my race car before the race. I think the last month we've been able to really do a good job in practice and talk to Kenny about what the car's doing and what I need to do better to be fast in the race. At times I've missed that over the last couple of years, especially early on. I feel like the last four races I've figured out how I want the car at different race track because every track is a little different. If I can keep that up in the final 10 it'll help a lot in the point standings. I think that's where Matt Kenseth is so good because he knows these tracks well and he knows just where he wants his car to start the race on Sunday and how it'll last throughout the race and still be good at the end."

WHO SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE FAVORITES? "The way I look at it, I think Matt Kenseth for sure. It's hard to say. You don't say the right guy and he wins the Chase and you're completely wrong. You guys will forget about this before then. I think we're going to be very good. I think the 9, 5, 17, 29 and 48, 8 -- just go off the first three I gave you."

HOW MUCH COULD THE LUCKY DOG RULE HELP? "The lucky dog rule is good, but hopefully we're not in that situation. Usually if you are it's because something happened. At this time of the year, if the 5 gets a Lucky Dog it's because he got a flat tire, like at Martinsville and fell back a couple of laps. I'd say that's how it'll be for a lot of these guys in the top 10 and it's good at that point because these guys just had a little problem and they're getting back where they need to be. It's a good rule. It's tough at certain tracks where you keep having cautions and keep bringing guys back on the lead lap that probably don't deserve to be on the lead lap, but they keep coming back because of the cautions. I think that's where it's a rule that should be looked at, but other than that it's pretty good and keeps everybody going."

COMMENT ON FEELING BAD FOR TONY STEWART NOT MAKING THE CHASE "I didn't feel bad for him. I don't think I ever said that, either. I may have said I'm surprised Tony Stewart's not in, but that's racing. I would have been surprised if we didn't make it, too. It was a surprise. He was last year's Nextel Champion and now he's not in it. The top three are not in The Chase, so it was definitely surprising, but that's racing. It's up and down. That was a tough weekend for him, but I'm in and that's all I care about right now."

ARE YOU THE FAVORITE TO WIN THE TITLE CONSIDERING ALL THE MILE AND A HALF TRACKS IN THE FINAL 10? "I don't know if it's favorite or not, but it definitely gives us some good tracks to go to. It gives us some tracks we can definitely win at."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kyle Busch