KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) HOW DID THE PRACTICE SESSIONS GO TODAY? "It was alright. We made a lot of adjustments. We had a lot of practice time to get ready for tomorrow. It was good. We made some gains. I think that we ended ...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
HOW DID THE PRACTICE SESSIONS GO TODAY? "It was alright. We made a lot of adjustments. We had a lot of practice time to get ready for tomorrow. It was good. We made some gains. I think that we ended up 10th at the end (of the second practice). We got slowed up by a car on our qualifying run, so I think we could have been maybe a little bit better than that as far as qualifying goes. As far as tomorrow, we'll make a couple guesses on what will help us from things that we learned today and hopefully we'll be good tomorrow. Usually at this track, I've struggled in the past. The car gets tight and then we'll try to free (the car) it up and the next thing you know, the front's not turning and the back's really loose. We've had some bad finishes here because of that and me running into things (smiles). We were 13th at the last race here and hopefully we can do that or better here this week."
WHEN YOU'RE GETTING READY TO TAKE A PIT STOP HERE, DO YOU FEEL 'GREAT, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE A GOOD STOP' OR 'OH NO, THE WORSE THING CAN HAPPEN NOW'? "That's (pit stops) a huge part of this racing, for sure. Especially over the last couple of years, pit road has been a huge part of it. Truthfully, my team has been very consistent. If I go in 12th, more times than not I'm coming out 12th. We don't really gain a bunch, but we don't lose either. There are times that we'll gain three or four spots and there are times that we'll lose (spots). I would say a majority of the time on average, we come in and out (of the pits) real close to where we were and that's pretty good for me. It's nice to gain spots, but I'd rather come out where I came in than have the opportunity of losing every once in a while like some of the other teams. So it's good. Our team does a pretty good job."
HOW RELIEVED ARE YOU THAT THE AJ (ALLMENDINGER) DRAMA IS OVER AND THAT HE'S STICKING IN AS THE FOURTH CAR AT RPM? "Myself and AJ get along pretty well and I think we work pretty good on the setups and stuff. How our car handles is usually similar with what we are driving car-wise. It's good for both of us so it will be good to have him as a teammate next year like this year, to know that it's full-time. I would imagine that he'll go full-time this year. He's doing a great job driving; that team's doing a good job and hopefully they'll just keep finding money to do it (race). It will be good to have AJ around next year.
HAS YOUR PERFOMRNACE IMPROVED COMPARED TO LAST YEAR; HAS AJ'S PRESENCE BEEN A FACTOR IN ANY IMPROVEMENT? "I don't know. I would say that our performance is very similar to where it was last year. For Reed (Sorenson) and Elliott), I don't know if their game has changed because of AJ being there or not, but I would say that where I'm at and where the 9 guys are, I'd say that we're real similar. We just kind of race what our engines and equipment things allow us to. I feel like that we're about the same that we were last year."
HOW IS THE DOWN ECONOMY, WITH CHRYSLER IN PARTICULAR, AFFECTING YOUR TEAM? "I think that it's part of where we're at; it's definitely affected all of NASCAR to a certain amount. Dodge is still really committed to us and has done a great job with us over the last couple of year. I feel like they're working hard to be a part of it. But yeah, it's a struggle. Hopefully, they (Chrysler) get everything worked out. The auto manufacturers...it's a huge part of auto racing and part of America. I think that if they can get going again, good...it will be nice for everyone. I would say everyone is kind of in the same boat."
HAS THE AMOUNT OF SUPPORT AFFECTED PERFOMRANCE? "I wouldn't say that it really has. I would say that it's similar to last year as far as where our team is. With what Dodge is doing for us, I don't know numbers. I don't know money or what happens there. As a manufacturer and what I work with and what I know about what's going on, I'd say it's about what it was last year and that's the same as what it was in 2004 when I came to drive for Evernham Motorsports. You'd have to ask someone that knows more about that than me to get a real good answer."
IS YOUR TEAM BEHIND OR JUST STRUGGLING TO MOVE FORWARD? "You can look at it in different ways. I would say that you look at Richard Petty Motorsports and compare to Hendrick Motorsports -- yeah, we're behind. But if you compare it to where we were last year, we've made gains, but so has everyone else. We're still just as far behind Hendrick Motorsports this year as we were last year and the other teams that are in there that are really good. Yeah, we're behind a little bit, but I don't think that we're getting any further behind. It's just hard. We started behind with the COT. I remember people were testing it (COT) and we didn't even have one in our garage yet because Ray (Evernham) didn't want to yet. I think it was Ray... we went through a lot of owners since then, it's hard to say (laughs). I think it was Ray. So we were behind at that point and ever since, they started 'boom...boom' and keep getting better. We start and we're always behind and it's hard to take that huge jump, whatever part of the race car it is. So I think that we're behind there. Our engine is older (R5). We're working on the R6 (R6P8 race engine), it will be great when we get that for Richard Petty Motorsports. It's going to be awesome. I can't wait to have more torque, more horsepower, a cooler engine and lighter engine which will help the performance for our race car as well. It's what it is. I think that everyone's working hard; we're making gains. We're just not closing that gap that we need to be closing."
DO YOU LIKE THE TWO-DAY SHOWS? WHAT DO OR DON'T YOU LIKE ABOUT IT? "I don't know yet. I've always liked Phoenix. It's a nice place to come. I got in here last night and I'm going to leave tomorrow night. To me, that's a quick trip. For a NASCAR weekend, that's a really quick trip. Usually we're in Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and sometimes a little sooner. I think it (two-day race weekends) just changes it up a bit. I like being in North Carolina so I'm fine with it. But at the same time, it's nice to be in Phoenix. If it helps the teams and it helps the race or gets more fans here or whatever it may be, then I think it's good. Whatever helps that stuff. As a driver, I can go in either direction."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS ARE RIGHT NOW AT RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS? ARE YOU HAPPY? ARE YOU EXPLORING OTHER OPTIONS? "I'm definitely not exploring other options. I have another year with Richard Petty Motorsports. The Gillett's have been good to me since I came here. I made a commitment to them to race thru 2010, so I'll do that for sure. I've told them from the start that if we can get our cars to where they're right and we're competitive with the best teams out here, then I don't know why I'd ever want to move from that company. I like the people (at RPM). From the guys building the race cars in the shop, the engine guys to the guys painting the cars, I have a good relationship with everybody. For me to leave, I wouldn't want to, but at the same time, I want to get a chance in some really good equipment too. I think that we're working on that. If we get there, I'll stay with RPM for a long time."
WOULD YOU SAY THAT WOULD BE THE DECIDING FACTOR? "Yeah, that's my only factor. At the end of the day, I grew up racing Sprint cars and driving for my dad. When I had a chance to drive for Steve Lewis, it was a no-brainer. He had the best equipment that there was and I took it and we won a ton of races and basically nobody's done that since in USAC as far as the Midget series goes or before. I just feel like that at some point, I want that opportunity and hopefully it can be right where we are at."
-credit: dodge motorsports