KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGTHS HEADING INTO THE SUBWAY FRESH FIT 500 THIS WEEKEND? "Phoenix has been a tough track for myself. We ran really good here in '04 and since then it's been tough. Last year it was ...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGTHS HEADING INTO THE SUBWAY FRESH FIT 500 THIS WEEKEND? "Phoenix has been a tough track for myself. We ran really good here in '04 and since then it's been tough. Last year it was probably our worse track as a team. We didn't have a very good test here, it's probably not the track that I look forward to coming to knowing that we're going to run strong and be good. We also made a lot of changes; we have a new car that we're bringing out this weekend. It's the first time that we've had a different car than what we ran last year in the COT races. That's something to look forward to. I think it's going to be a little better then what we've had. We just have to figure out the tire and figure out the race track surface and make sure our car turns well enough to go through the corners. That's been our main problem here. If we can figure that out, I think we'll be decent. I've always liked Phoenix. I've just struggled with finishing races in the top 10 here."
WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THE COT -- DOES NASCAR NEED TO MAKES SOME CHANGES TO THE CAR AND HELP TEAMS MORE? "I feel like it would be nice if NASCAR could help us out some. I was running eighth to 12th most of the (Texas) race, and if the car handled that badly last year, with the old car two years ago you'd be 30th to 40th. My car felt terrible and I still was 10th. If you look at a guy who is running 20th, his car probably feels five times worse than what mine car felt. It's difficult, but you get use to it. You get use to these cars and we'll keep working on them making them better doing everything we can to make them right. Hopefully, we can figure them out and they're not such a pain to drive when you still are in the top 10."
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS OF WHAT NASCAR COULD DO TO HELP THE NEW CAR OUT? "The bump stops and travel is real sensitive to how the car handles. With the splitter, bump stops and travel -- you put that all that stuff together -- you can either make it worse or better by using those things. If there is something there that NASCAR can do, I'm not sure how you'd make that better. I don't really get too much into it. Hopefully, there is something that as time goes on that we'll be able to make these cars better with something on the front end. I think it's the front end. The back of the car - you can get them loose, you can get them tight. You can kind of do what you want. The front is always just kind of sliding around. We're in the top series; you should have a car that is halfway fun to drive sometimes I would imagine."
IS HAVING BUDWEISER AS YOUR SPONSOR ADDED PRESSURE? "It adds some. You want to perform and want to do well and keep a great sponsor like Budweiser. So you want to perform and do everything you can to win races. That's what we're working on. As far as (Budweiser) as a sponsor, it's a great sponsor -- I really enjoy it. I've been at the Bud convention this week in Chicago and had a blast with the wholesalers. I was a bartender one night for a couple hours hanging out with Brandon Bernstein, Chuck Liddell and the Manning brothers -- we had a really good time. I think it's pretty cool that I have this opportunity right now. I want to perform and make sure that I do everything right so we can keep Budweiser for a long time."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU DONE THIS YEAR ON THE COT? WHO HAS COME ON-BOARD TO HELP KENNY (FRANCIS) THIS YEAR? "You just need a lot of people. Look at Jeff Gordon last week, he had tons of people and he was probably the worse car on the race track. It just shows how sensitive these race cars are on the front end. Kenny (Francis, crew chief)) is doing a great job. I think everybody at Gillett Evernham -- including Mark McArdle -- has done a good job. We're still working -- just behind just a little bit. We've been consistent. My team has been close to the top 10 -- close to the top 15 the majority of the races. Last week we would have been in the top 10 if we didn't have debris knock the splitter off. That's been good and we're doing everything we can. As a company, we're not strong enough yet. You can tell that by the looking at all the cars and teams and how we fluctuate throughout practice and the race. We just need to keep working I guess."
HOW MUCH TESTING HAVE YOU DONE? "We've actually tried to do a lot testing, but some of it the weather has played a big factor this year - Nashville and Kentucky in particular. The test team has done a good bit. I've done eight days since the start of the year. We did a lot last year too. The test team mainly is what's done most of the testing at the tracks that we don't race at.
"I don't think that you can go and test and throw something at it and think that's going to fix it. These cars are so precise and how the front ends are -- the travels -- and different things like that. I think you really have to come up with the stuff and then go race it and test it and make sure it's right -- then compare it to other good race cars in an actual race."
HOW CHILLED WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT AARON FICKE? "I was pretty surprised that it had happened. I would never have suspected that. I don't feel like I race with guys on drugs, but at the same time there are certain people you wonder about at some times. I definitely wondered about Aaron Ficke the last year he was in Nationwide or whatever he was racing. I always wondered. I really had no clue why he raced for as long as he did."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD CONSIDER RANDOM DRUG TESTING? "I'd be open to that (drug tests). As far as I'm concerned, where we are at in NASCAR -- in racing -- whenever you get the opportunities you get, there should be no question that you're clean or doing drugs. I think there should be no question at all. I really don't think there is a lot of question. I don't feel like I race with people that do drugs or anything. I don't know if there is a lot of question, but I don't see anything wrong with random tests.
"I think there is more that goes into it than just saying 'we're going to test you guys.' I don't understand it totally because I've never been tested. I would be up for it (drug testing) at any time just so that I knew -- and everybody else knows what's going on. As much money that's in this sport, and as lucky as we are to get do what we do, we should be clean and everybody out there should be."
-credit: dodge motorsports