KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) AS A DRIVER WHO HAS WON TWO TIMES THIS SEASON, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINE LINE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING AT THE SPRINT CUP LEVEL? "It's a very fine line because of the challenges that the COT (new...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
AS A DRIVER WHO HAS WON TWO TIMES THIS SEASON, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINE LINE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING AT THE SPRINT CUP LEVEL? "It's a very fine line because of the challenges that the COT (new car) has presented to the teams. When one team finds the right combination on this car of tomorrow, it can be contagious and it seems like a team can really feed off of that success. I think that we've seen it at Hendrick and Gibbs and Roush this season. A company like Hendrick (Motorsports) that has four really good cars is better able to find success because of the data and information that they can collect and apply to their cars. They have found a way to figure this new car out and be consistent week in and week out."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THE COT PRESENTS A BETTER OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE DRIVERS TO WIN RACES? "Absolutely not. I think less have a better opportunity to win races. Only certain teams have gotten the COT to where it drives right. On the old car, a lot of teams had it where it drove right. If there are only a couple of teams that have it where the COT drives right, it's going to be awful tough to beat those guys because your car isn't driving nearly as well as their car is."
WHAT DOES THE 9 TEAM HAVE TO DO TO GET BETTER HEADING INTO DAYTONA NEXT FEBRUARY? "We just need to keep working hard. The guys on this 9 team work real hard and we have a lot of good people. But you have to have direction and you have to know that it's the right direction by actually racing the stuff on the track. With the way testing is right now, you can't go to Kentucky (Speedway) and learn a bunch of stuff. You have to go to the race tracks that we race on and actually race it because we don't get to test (on those tracks). Now next year, if we get a little more testing at the tracks that we race at, I think that will help the teams that aren't caught up to the Gibbs, Hendrick and Roush teams. With this car, you definitely need to work with it in testing in order to find the right gains."
YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT YOUR SEASON AS 'UP AND DOWN'. IS CONSISTENCY DETERMINED BY THE PREPARATION OF THE RACECAR BEFORE IT GETS TO A RACE TRACK? "I think so. I don't understand how some teams get so far ahead. I do understand that when you have a car that's right -- I've had a few this year and we've won -- it's a different ballgame. You feel like a completely different driver. You just have to keep on working to get the cars the best that they can be when we unload them. The teams that are winning have them (great cars). Those drivers are doing a great job -- the teams are doing a great job -- we need to figure out how to catch up to them."
WHAT ARE THE PLANS FOR THE 9 TEAM DURING THE OFF-SEASON? "We're going to do as much testing as we can and feel that it will really benefit us for next year. The more testing we do during December and January, the more data we collect that we hope to apply at the race track."
KYLE (BUSCH), JIMMIE (JOHNSON) AND CARL (EDWARDS) HAVE WON 22 RACES BETWEEN THE THREE OF THEM THIS YEAR. HOW HARD IS THAT TO FATHOM KNOWING YOU'VE WORKED SO HARD TO WIN TWO RACES? "You've got three of the best drivers with three of the best teams; they're going to win a lot of the races every year, just not in 2008."
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT IT HASN'T BEEN ABLE TO TRICKLE DOWN TO THE 24, 5, 11 AND 20 CARS? "I think it's just years. Jeff (Gordon) had a great year last year and it seems like Denny (Hamlin) and Tony (Stewart) were a little bit better last year. Jimmie (Johnson) is good every year. Carl's been good every year. Kyle (Busch) has been really good in the past, but nothing like the season that he's had this year. I've been a little surprised at how well Kyle has run compared to Denny and Tony. Other than that, those other two guys (Johnson and Gordon), they're on every year. I would have thought Jeff Gordon would have run a little bit better at times this year."
WHO'S YOUR DRIVER OF THE YEAR? "It's between Carl, Kyle and Jimmie. You can look at everything they each have done this year and make a case for each of them. Personally, the guy who seems just to make it happen -- and he lost some points earlier in the year -- I think Carl has been driver of the year this season."
IS IT HARD TO STAY MOTIVIATED THIS TIME OF THE RACE SEASON WHEN YOU'RE NOT IN THE CHASE? "I think that it's been pretty easy to stay focused towards the end of the season. We've been developing new cars and I've been excited to get in them and race. The results haven't been there like we would like, but I've stayed real focused and worked hard all the way to Phoenix and Homestead next weekend. I plan on trying to stay focused and being the best that I can be in trying to get better and better."
-credit: dodge motorsports