KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) NOTE: Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Kasey Kahne will start fourth in Sunday's race. The 24-year-old driver from Enuclaw, Wash., has scored five runner-up finishes in 2004 and ranks 13th in the...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
NOTE: Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Kasey Kahne will start fourth in Sunday's race. The 24-year-old driver from Enuclaw, Wash., has scored five runner-up finishes in 2004 and ranks 13th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings. He's fresh off a fifth-place finish last week at Atlanta.
"Our qualifying lap wasn't that great Friday, and I'm really surprised it held up for fourth place. I thought we'd be lucky to start in the top 15, but starting fourth is a real bonus. I'd love to get up to 11th in the standings in these last three races, but Jamie (McMurray) would probably have to break for that to happen. We can definitely get 12th."
WILL YOU RUN MORE AGGRESSIVELY IN THESE LAST THREE RACES?
"We'll do the same thing we've been doing all season, trying to win races and finish up front. I'm a lot more comfortable now than I was at the beginning of the season. I know I'm still a rookie, but I've been getting more comfortable every race. I'm still getting more comfortable in the Busch car, too. At certain tracks it helps my Cup effort running the Busch car, but out here I don't think it does. At most of the tracks under a mile and a half, the cars handle so much different."
COMMENT ON RUNNING AT PHOENIX
"I think turns one and two are tougher to get through than three and four. You turn more getting in. It's a sharper corner getting into the center and it opens up in the exit. If you can try not to do a whole lot of turning getting in and get down in the center and not turn a lot on the exit, that's the fastest way through it. Three and four are just like regular corners to me."
COMMENT ON QUALIFYING. YOU'VE WON FOUR POLES THIS SEASON AND RYAN NEWMAN WON HIS NINTH YESTERDAY.
"I think the 12 team has something figured out right now for qualifying. They race good, but they don't race like they qualify. They weren't getting that many poles at the beginning of the year. They've figured something out that works between the car and the driver. I enjoy qualifying, and I know some drivers don't, but that's really the first competition of the weekend and it's important for pit selections, too."
IF YOU DON'T WIN A RACE THIS SEASON, WILL THAT BE A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT?
"We'll be disappointed because we know we can win races but at the same time we've had races taken away from us. I don't think we'd be as disappointed if we'd never run up front and never came close to winning. We've come close a lot of times to winning. We had a dominant car at Dover, Charlotte, several times this year. We had a dominating car at Texas. We had to start eighth in line with 30 laps to go and we ran second by a foot. That's a dominating racecar. We had it a lot of times. We just never capitalized on it and never made it to the end. We're just going to try to keep qualifying up front and finishing the races. We'll be in the mix to win two out of these last three, maybe all three. I'd really like to win at Darlington. I like the surface. The track is difficult to drive. It's real narrow and slippery. It's just an exciting and fun racetrack. You've got to be on top of it all day long. It's a drivers' track."
COMMENT ON YOUR YOUNGER BROTHER KALE NOT GETTING HIS HAIR CUT UNTIL YOU WIN A RACE
"His hair is pretty long, but I think it looks fine. I guess I need to win one of these last three so he doesn't have to go through the winter without getting it cut. He'll probably end up cutting it either way. We hang out all the time. He's 21 and I'm 24. Whenever he's home we hang out, but he's gone almost as much as I am driving the motorhome. A lot of the time he's home, I'm gone and the opposite. It makes it fun. It makes the weekends at the track more fun to have him around. His hair has always been short. If you look at pictures of him from Daytona in February, it's short. Mine gets long, too, but I'll cut it after a little while."
COMMENT ON YOUR LEAD IN THE RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS
"We've got a pretty good lead over Brendan and Brian, and we've led it most of the season, so it would be a shame if something happens and we don't win it now. It was a goal all season long, and unless something crazy happens, I think we're in good shape to win it. I've learned a lot this year running for Ray Evernham and Tommy Baldwin, and if we don't win a race this season, it'll be a shame, but we'll get geared up in the offseason and try to have a good sophomore season like Ryan Newman did last year."