Kasey Kahne Scores First Cup Victory, First Charger Triumph; Evernham Motorsports Driver Leads 242 Laps, Holds Off Stewart KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: This was the first Cup win for the Dodge Charger (11th...
Kasey Kahne Scores First Cup Victory, First Charger Triumph; Evernham Motorsports Driver Leads 242 Laps, Holds Off Stewart
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: This was the first Cup win for the Dodge Charger (11th start) and the second straight victory for the Evernham Motorsports Dodge team at Richmond. Jeremy Mayfield won at Richmond in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge last fall. The Charger returned to the Cup circuit in 2005 after a long absence. Neil Bonnett recorded the last Charger victory on Nov. 20, 1977 in Ontario, Calif. Kahne, who won from the pole, scored his first career triumph in his 47th career start. He led seven times for 242 laps and scored a 1.674-second victory over Tony Stewart. Dodge drivers Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray finished third and 10th, respectively.
"This was one of our worst racetracks last year. We struggled here every race. We never crashed. We just couldn't run good. We came out here and tested and made a few changes and the car was just awesome all night long. It was so fun racing Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch up there at the beginning of the race. To have Tony on my heels the whole race was pretty awesome to me. It was just an unbelievable feeling. I was pretty nervous. I've been leading races before and not won 'em. I just got into turn one a little bit too soft and he (Stewart) got a good run on the outside. He knew I was going to the bottom. He came close. We got to turn three and I just floored it a little bit earlier than I would have on a normal lap and got position again. We were better out front. It was just a matter of getting position.
"They've helped me so much, Tony has, watching Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman that have done so much for USAC and Sprint Cars. It's great to be able to race with them all night and race clean and hard.
"I think we're on track. We've got two poles a first and a third the past two weeks. We're on a roll. This was our last chance to get in the all-star race and we were able to do it. We look forward to running at Charlotte next weekend.
"Tony Stewart has helped me as much as any driver to get where I am right now. It was awesome to be able to race with him all night long and to be able to beat him was even better. He's as good as they get in Nextel Cup and we were able to hold him off tonight. It's an awesome win for everybody on our Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger race team. It's the first win for the Charger, and that's great. We're excited to be here in victory lane.
"We waited longer than I would have thought to win. We started out last year good and had a lot of seconds and thirds and ran up front. We thought we could win races, but we weren't able to do it. We had to wait a long time, but at least we finally won one and hopefully we'll get more now. I was nervous on those last restarts.
"Tony went to the outside and got a great run on me on that last restart. He got a fender on me and I had to race him into turns three and four and we were able to clear him again. It's a great feeling to be able to race Tony Stewart like that all day long."
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
"That was a tough race, but it was good to see a Dodge end up in victory lane. We had a really good car tonight. We ran into a few problems along the way, but we got a decent finish and gained a couple of spots in the standings."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
"We were tight all night and didn't run that well. I thought we were going to be a lot better. I'm proud of Kasey and his crew. They've done a great job all year and they deserve it. That's two straight at Richmond for Evernham Motorsports and that's great."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
"We had a top five car, but we had a little trouble on the last restart. The crew did a great job in the pits. I think it was all my pit crew tonight. We had a really good car, but we had some unreal pit stops. That got us up front, but it was a little frustrating with the 5 car there at the end. He was racing hard. It's frustrating. He did a good job all night, but you're always upset when you're the victim."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
"We just couldn't get any grip. The crew worked hard to pick up some spots in the pits, but it just wasn't enough. It was a long night."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger)
"We were almost in the right place at the right time. I'll bet Kasey is shaking inside and out right now. He's an awesome racecar driver. Three open wheel guys finished in the top three, and that's great. I wish we could have won for some different reasons, but Kasey did an awesome job, drove a smart race and had a really fast racecar. I don't know what Tony was thinking. He should have let me pass him. It's good for us as a team to run in the top five two weeks in a row. We've struggled to do that this year. We've struggled on that track. Hopefully we can keep it up.
"I told him (Tony Stewart) he is a hell of a racecar driver. Anybody else I would have knocked out of the way. We've got a lot of respect for each other even though we've beat heads once in awhile, we've got a lot of respect for what we do.
"From what I remember, my (first Cup) win at Loudon, you just do your best no matter what you're doing. You don't have a ton of experience, so you just go with the experience you've got and drive your racecar to the best of your ability. I'm sure Kasey will look back on this day at some point and say, 'man, if I was only that smart back then I could have won a heck of a lot more races.' He's a heck of a racecar driver, really a smart kid, and this won't be his only win."
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU IT TOOK DODGE SO LONG TO WIN? "Not really, barring the last caution last week we would have ended that a week ago (first Dodge Charger Cup win). Dodge for sure, I won't say we've struggled, but we've worked and worked on the balance and the new aero pieces we had to work with that the other teams basically could just carry on from last year. We had to relearn some things. I wouldn't say we were playing catch up, but I think we were playing a game of balancing it out and working it out and a few of us have got it right.
"Kyle (Busch) no doubt can drive a racecar. He can drive a racecar fast. He's run good here before, especially in the Busch car. He led a lot of laps and won the race. That transfers over. My first Cup race here I ran second. You can't always judge a book by its cover.
"There's two ways of looking at that. Kasey was a proven winner before he got to Nextel Cup. He knew what it was like to win. Some people never have that opportunity. From a confidence standpoint, you as well as your team have been working for that first win with him. They carry that momentum. They carry that mentality that they've done it and they can do it and they've proven they can get to victory lane and they'll try to do it again."