Martinsville II: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) IS MARTINSVILLE A MAKE IT OR BREAK IT TRACK? "I think it could be for sure. It's a short track. Lots of things can happen. Cars can spin. You can get close together and get caught up in other...

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

IS MARTINSVILLE A MAKE IT OR BREAK IT TRACK? "I think it could be for sure. It's a short track. Lots of things can happen. Cars can spin. You can get close together and get caught up in other wrecks and get a lap down. So many cars are a lap down it's hard to get Lucky Dogs compared to some of the other race tracks. It should be interesting. I'm pretty excited. I think it's a great track for us to gain some points if we come out and do everything right and have a good run like we did in the spring. We were having a great run. I think if we do all that stuff we can hopefully gain a lot of points and just have a good race. If Burton is up front, if Junior is up front, Mark Martin and all those guys then hopefully we are, too, and don't lose any points. We're right there. We're on the outside, but we can still make it if we get close to the front."

COMMENT ON RACING AT MARTINSVSILLE "Coming in in 2004 this was one of the toughest tracks I had that we went to. In my first three races here we qualified out of the top 30 -- 27th was maybe the best. We just couldn't figure out how to go fast. We ran second in the spring race in 2005 and felt like we made a lot of gains. In the spring race this year I felt we were as good as Tony Stewart. I battled him for the lead for 15 laps. We had a great race car. We were third when we had an engine problem. I feel like it was a really tough track to figure out. I think I've done some of that now. I've figured out more than what I did at first. With Kenny Francis (team director) and my team, I feel like we've got a shot to run in the top five all day on Sunday."

COMMENT ON TESTING WITH JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AT HOMESTEAD "I was never around him on the track, but I saw him go by. It was a black car, No. 30. I thought it was pretty cool. I was happy with what I saw when he went by. I thought it was neat. I was never around him, but I think he's going to do a great job. I watched the ARCA race last weekend and he was really strong. He had a problem with spotting or whatever happened and got in the wall, but he was running good. I'm excited. I think it's great we've got some of these guys coming in that want to race NASCAR. Montoya is as good as anybody, and he'll figure it out quick."

WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG FOR YOUNG DRIVERS TO FIGURE OUT MARTINSVILLE? "I think that depends on who you are. Look at Denny Hamlin last year. He was great from the start at this place. He drove cars similar I guess and figured it out quick. He learns fast. I don't know why that is with some people. I know for me it took me a little while to figure out braking and coasting and just how to get through the corners. I was used to racing an 800-pound race car around a track like this. These cars weigh 3400 pounds and it's a much different car to drive. For me, I raced on tracks this size, but nowhere near the type of cars on this size tracks and it took me awhile to figure it out. Now I really enjoy coming here. It's a great track and something I really look forward to every year because it's different. A bunch of tracks we go to are the same. They are similar in certain areas, and this place is so much different. It gives you something to look forward to and something to get excited about."

COMMENT ON JEFF BURTON "I think they've turned it on the last half of the year for sure. When they did that they haven't slowed down. They're really consistent. Going into The Chase I was two or three points behind him. The first three races he runs up front and I run in the back. All of a sudden we're 284 points behind him and he's leading the points. Their consistency has been great. He's had great luck. It's just been a lot of things. He's been around a long time and he understands what it takes to win a championship. They're doing a great job. The way this season has gone I feel that luck is all over the place. I've had some great races, some terrible races and some fair races. Jimmie Johnson is the same way. Some of these other guys have had some good races and a couple of bad ones. You just never know. We've got five to go and anything can happen. If it does happen to those guys we'll be right back in it."

HOW HECTIC HAS YOUR LIFE BECOME? "In the last few years it's got pretty hectic. Once we got to The Chase, I missed it the first two years and everybody forgot about Kasey Kahne for about three months. It was no fun, but it was kinda nice because I didn't have much to do. This year being in The Chase there is a lot more to do. Everybody is excited. We're having fun winning races. Things are going our way and I feel like it's been really good to have all the extra things going on. This week we tested at Homestead for two days. We had a charity basketball game on Wednesday. I was on a Remington hunt yesterday and shot some pheasant. That was pretty fun, and now we're here today. It's been a pretty busy week, but it's been an exciting week and that's the way the rest of them are going to be in The Chase."

WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE BEING IN THE CHASE? "It's been the exact same as it's been the past two years other than the last two years when you're battling Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart your mind just tells you for a split second not to take these guys out because they're racing for a championship. You don't want to jeopardize what they're doing, but at the same time you want to do pass them and beat them and try your hardest. This year I haven't thought that way once. I just think about beating them and doing all I can do to make that pass. That's the only difference. I've been racing hard, racing the same way I have is what we're doing right now. I don't have to think about who you're racing. You just race."

CAN JEFF BURTON BE CAUGHT? "I definitely think he can be caught. The way the season has gone he can be caught this weekend. It can turn around that quick. I don't think 100 points is nearly enough to have a lead on anybody or even 160. I don't think that's enough for him to think he's beat us, and I don't think Jeff Burton thinks that way. He's said if he and his team keep doing the same things they'll be all right. If they make a mistake or something happens then he's going to be right back to six cars out of first."

HOW TOUGH IS THIS STRETCH OF RACES? "It's pretty tough because they're all different, but it's also pretty neat because you get to go to Talladega, which is newly paved and is a great racetrack compared to what it used to be. I had a blast driving there all day. A lot of people did. Lowe's was awesome all night long. Now we're at a short track. It's just such a variety of three different race tracks. It makes it exciting and makes it pretty neat to be in The Chase and have these races in The Chase."

COMMENT ON THE ALLSTATE COMMERCIALS "I enjoy them. I think they were pretty fun to make. The commercials are a blast. Allstate has done an awesome job taking care of Evernham Motorsports. You watch it on TV and a lot of people enjoy it. I talk to more NASCAR fans about that than probably about the six wins. It's pretty neat that Allstate came up with the idea. We did two more about a month ago that will be fun and exciting. They come out at Daytona."

COMMENT ON JEFF GORDON'S 75 WINS "I don't think I'll make it that long. I guess I'd better step it up. He's had some unbelievable years. He's done a great job and his team has been really strong. People are going to have a hard time catching that kind of stuff. Definitely we can keep winning and at least try to win the most races this year."

COMMENT ON THE UPCOMING TRACKS WHERE YOU'VE ALREADY WON THIS YEAR "It's just like when you win Lowe's. I felt great when I woke up Sunday morning. That's the first thing you think about. You're excited. Right after we go testing Monday at Homestead and you just do what you can to be ready for Homestead and do what you can to be ready for the next race. We're going to Atlanta and Texas and know we've won there, but I think things have changed a lot since then, too. We've got to make adjustments to make the car right. I'm pretty confident going to those tracks and at least have a shot. The whole thing is Jimmie Johnson was faster than I was with 100 laps to go (last Saturday night). We made the right adjustments and were faster than him at the end. We had to drive by him to beat him and that's where the team comes in. That's where communication comes in and Ray has stressed that a lot this year.

"We went into Charlotte knowing we were pretty good in the All-Star race and the 600 and we ran with the same mindset. Confidence and the right mindset is definitely a good thing. Over confidence isn't good, but to have confidence going into the race knowing we won here earlier in the year is good."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin