KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) NOTE: This is Kahne's circuit-leading fourth pole of the season and his second track record. He also set the track record when he won the pole at Las Vegas earlier this season. "The car was...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
NOTE: This is Kahne's circuit-leading fourth pole of the season and his second track record. He also set the track record when he won the pole at Las Vegas earlier this season.
"The car was perfect right there. I couldn't believe it. We were a little bit off in practice. Tommy Baldwin and everybody made a few little changes. I actually drove a little different line, and it picked up in one and two. The car was better. I drove a little bit better and it's a difficult track. It takes some time to learn.
"We practiced here last Thursday for a full day, and I had Bill Elliott helping. He was in the corners helping me through each end. I was just trying to get faster through each corner, and it paid off. I ended up crashing that car here, not bad, but it definitely needed some work. The guys in the body shop repaired it and got it back. It's a good thing we got it fixed. I crashed it off turn one last Thursday.
"Just working on it tomorrow (will help prepare for the race). We weren't the fastest car here in race trim when we tested. We came back with a better engine package, better racecar. We're going to obviously be faster because of those two things, but just working on it, getting the racecar where it drives good and drives good for a long time will be the biggest thing and just staying out of trouble. It's going to be a long race. Bill told me this was one of the longest races of the year once you get going. I look forward to it. It should be a lot of fun. Just working with the team all day long, last week at Dover we got better every single pit stop. It seemed like everybody did a good job in the pits. Tommy made the right calls all day long, and we just need to keep doing something like that again where we keep getting better through the whole 500 miles.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about it (Dover). I pretty much got over it during the days, but every time I tried to go to sleep it would come back in my mind and made for a few long nights this week. I was disappointed. It wasn't fun by any means. It's too bad it had to happen, but we did everything right that day and got in some circumstances and didn't finish the race. The team was let down because we didn't win, but at the same time we were all happy that we were the best car there and knew we would have won if that didn't happen so we weren't too down.
"I think I still have a lot to learn. Come tomorrow and Sunday it's going to be completely different. I actually thought that I overdrove turn one. It made my whole corner different than what I was going to run. I just drove in further than I thought. I missed all the bumps and went above them, and it worked out just fine. It's definitely going to take some time.
"It's not going to be easy. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for us just to get some laps in and get more practice here.
"I probably learned more this year about these cars. If I feel the cars getting loose, it's just not getting loose. You feel it different in every circumstance. I just have a better idea of what it is and how to fix it. The guys on the team teach me as I go. It's just made everything a lot quicker. We fix it a lot quicker than I ever have in the past with any other team.
"I was on sticker tires (last Thursday during test when he wrecked the car). It was right after lunch. I drove into turn one and got wide open again. I hit some bumps and it got loose. I had it just about saved and got the back of the car in the exit of the turn one wall. I just got loose and crashed. It wasn't a bad crash, but they had to do some fixing, but it didn't hurt anything.
"I'm definitely surprised at the start of the year. I'm still surprised when we do some things, at the end of last week. Sitting on the pole today is a definite surprise. I thought we'd be somewhere around 10th when we went out. We just put together a good lap, but a lot of things this year have surprised me.
"I talked to them (Busch team) a couple of times today. I guess they were ninth in the first practice. Tyler Walker is doing that. He's a great driver, and I'm excited for him. I hope things go well in qualifying tonight. It sounded like everything went great this morning.
"I'm not positive (if Bill Elliott is going to be here Sunday). I saw his name on the itinerary. He might be here tomorrow. He usually comes on practice day. He doesn't come on race day. I think he might be here tomorrow.
"I'm comfortable. I'm always comfortable in these Dodge Dealer cars. I feel like I did everything from the exit of turn one around the rest of the track just like I wanted to. I was a little higher than I wanted to be in turn one. I drove in a little bit harder, but I picked the throttle up quick. It carried a lot of speed down that backstretch. I'm definitely comfortable. It's just a matter of doing it 200 times in a row."