KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Kahne, a circuit leading four-time winner in 2006, ranks sixth in the series standings. He was also sixth six weeks ago prior to the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Kahne is 114 points...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Kahne, a circuit leading four-time winner in 2006, ranks sixth in the series standings. He was also sixth six weeks ago prior to the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Kahne is 114 points ahead of 11th place and only 33 points behind third-place. Positions three through 10 are separated by only 136 points with seven races remaining to qualify for the 2006 Chase.
COMMENT ON THE POINTS "I'm sixth in points and feel like we can stay about where we're at. We just need to have good races every week and be consistent. It's tight. You make a mistake and you're going to be out of the top 10. It's really close. I'm pretty comfortable with all the tracks we go to anymore. It's just a matter of figuring it out and doing it right that weekend. I really like this track, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, California, Bristol, Michigan. I'm looking forward to all of them."
DO YOU THINK POSITIONS 3-10 ARE WIDE OPEN? "Yeah, it is. It's like you can basically go out win a race, lead all the laps and go from eighth or ninth to third in points, depending on where everybody else is, pretty easily. It's interesting. We need to figure out how to have a good run this weekend and stay in there. Everybody is going to be fighting pretty hard the next seven races."
DOES IT MATTER WHERE YOU FINISH AS LONG AS IT'S IN THE TOP 10 AFTER RICHMOND? "Yeah, if you're just consistent the rest of these races in the top 10, you'll be fine."
WILL THE TRACK BE DIFFERENT TODAY THAN IT WAS SIX WEEKS AGO? "It'll be a lot different today. It'll be a good day to have some practice and figure out where we're at. We'll start out close to where we finished last time, but we'll be making some adjustments. It's no easier the second time here. It's just as easy or just as tough as the first time. It could be really good for us or it could be a tough weekend for us. We won't know until we're actually in the race on Sunday."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT LOSS OF MOMENTUM SINCE YOUR WIN AT MICHIGAN? "We lost momentum. We ran in the 20s for three weeks and then we got eighth last week. I think we're getting back on track. We'll have some good runs the next month and be where we need to be."
IS IT HARD TO STAY ON TOP THE ENTIRE SEASON? "You have to. That's the only way you're going to win the Nextel Cup. That's the only way you're going to make The Chase. You have to stay focused all season. It's a long season, and it takes a lot out of you, but it's a lot of fun trying to do that."
IS IT TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT THE BRICKYARD? "Not at all. I'm always excited and looking forward to that race. We tested there three or four times this year with the tires and then we had the final test there a couple of weeks ago. I think we were eighth or ninth in testing. I thought we had a good car, so I'm definitely excited. That's the race I look forward to every single year more than any other one. I'd love to win the Allstate 400."
WOULD YOU RATHER WIN DAYTONA 500 OR BRICKYARD 400? "I'd rather win at Indianapolis because of living there and growing up there, always wanting to race the Indy 500 or Brickyard 400. Right after you win that, the only other track you'd want to win at is Daytona. Both of those tracks are pretty neat with history and with everything that goes with it."
WHICH TRACK INTIMIDATED YOU MORE AT FIRST? "I think I was probably more intimidated at Daytona the first time going there and more excited going to Indy the first time going there testing. It was probably more excitement than intimidation and Daytona was like Loudon. It's just so different."
WHAT'S THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE TEAM THIS SEASON? "I've been saying all year long we've got a good race team, and Kenny Francis (team director) makes some great calls. The guys are focused. They work hard every week. The cars are prepared perfectly. I think the communications are as good as anybody's. We've just got to put it together each week."
COMMENT ON YOUR SUCCESS AT POCONO? "It's just a track that guys figure out. Three different corners, three different styles of driving, you have to drive each corner differently. New guys have good records here. I don't know why that is, but it's pretty good. Vickers runs good, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, myself. All of us (ran well) when we first came to these tracks."
COMMENT ON THE 2006 RAYBESTOS ROOKIE CLASS "It's a good one. I think Denny and Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex and those guys are really strong each week. They can win races. I've never had any problems with them. There have been times when Denny Hamlin and myself got into it on the track for a lap or two, but that's racing. We're both racing hard and things happen. I think Denny is a good driver and they're all good with what they do."
WHEN YOU WERE A ROOKIE DID IT HELP GOING BACK TO TRACKS FOR A SECOND TIME? "It makes practices a little better. You figure it out in practice a little better, but in the races I think we actually raced better the first half of the year my rookie year because our cars were better. We hit on a lot of things early in the year that the second half of the year we didn't have. We had to try to find new setups and it took a little more time."
COMMENT ON COMPETITION LEVEL IN NASCAR "I think the competition level in NASCAR is higher than any other competition level in any form of racing in the United States. If they're not quality drivers for that type of competition, I don't know what they're looking for."
WHY DOES SILLY SEASON HAPPEN EARLIER AND EARLIER? "I don't know. I think when your contract is up at the end of the year and you don't know where you're going you want to talk and figure it out and let other owners have that same opportunity. They're looking for people because their drivers are leaving and something is going on there. I think this is a year when a lot of people's contracts are up. I think there's still a lot to go on what happens. With these new Toyota teams I think that helps because you have some spots to put people and really give a lot of drivers a lot of seats out there."
COMMENT ON CREW CHIEF CHANGES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON "I think in the middle of the year it would probably take some time. It would take some getting used to, especially if you were making changes because things weren't going well. No matter who you bring in things aren't going to go well right off the bat I don't think. It's more of a team deal, and it takes time to change that stuff around. During the off season if you make a change it's not nearly as big of a deal."