Richmond II: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON YOUR WEEK SO FAR "The week has actually been pretty good. I took it easy. I didn't have a whole lot to do. We did some media stuff because of the Fontana sweep out there. Basically...

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON YOUR WEEK SO FAR "The week has actually been pretty good. I took it easy. I didn't have a whole lot to do. We did some media stuff because of the Fontana sweep out there. Basically we had some good things going on, but I actually relaxed. I was home a lot. It was the first time I'd been home in awhile, so it was nice to just sit at home. I didn't do a whole lot."

HAVE YOU FELT ADDED PRESSURE COMING INTO THIS RACE? "It actually doesn't feel too bad right now. I felt good about what's gone on all week. We talked about the way we're going to run the car this weekend, the changes we're going to make, the things that will be on the list to make the car better in practice today and just be prepared for tomorrow night's race. We tried to look at some different scenarios and see how everything ends up. I've actually been excited to still have a shot, excited we ran so well last week. It gives us a shot still to make The Chase. After running well here in the last three races with one win, I feel like it's a great racetrack for us. I did all the winner's circle stuff up here and met a lot of the media a couple months ago. It's been pretty neat. I sold some tickets for this race and I just look forward to going out there tomorrow night and trying to run up front."

DO YOU WONDER IF NASCAR SHOULD AWARD MORE POINTS FOR WINNING? "I don't know. It would be nice in the situation I'm in, but I don't know of too many situations you'd be in with five wins on the outside looking in. As good as we've been all year, we've had those six or seven races we did not run well in. We've had some engine problems. We've had three or four we just didn't run good in and I've wrecked in a couple. You add up all those and that's a lot of points. If you look at the other guys with the most wins, they're first and second in points. If you take away just half of my bad races I'd be sitting about third in points. I think wins do give you a lot of bonus points to a certain point. Usually if you win you've led a lot of laps and you've got at least 15 points right there and sometimes 20 if you've led the most laps."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE SUPERSTAR ROLE OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU'RE STILL GETTING USED TO? "I think it's always something I'll get used to because it's not necessarily me. I grew up in a small town and grew up as kind of a shy person. Basically everything I do anymore is not about that. It's about being more out there and people know who you are. You do things to excite the fans and try to mingle and make them happy and stuff like that. It's definitely going to be different for me. I enjoy it now to where three or four years ago I was so nervous I didn't enjoy it. Now I'm starting to enjoy some of that stuff. If it keeps getting better and better I think I'll love it. It's just part of growing and trying to be a champion in the long run, and that's what we want to do -- be a champion. Just to keep getting more and more of it is fine with me."

TWO GUYS COULD MAKE THE CHASE WITH NO WINS. DO YOU THINK THAT'S RIGHT? "I don't see why it wouldn't be. One of them could have a win after this weekend, and I could be in with all those wins or not, there's all kind of scenarios. I think Matt Kenseth won a championship with one win. I think consistency is part of it, too. With The Chase and the way they do that, I think it's awesome. Richmond wouldn't mean anything without that right now. It wouldn't be nearly as big a race or as exciting as it's going to be. You look at wins. You look at bonus points and excitement for fans. Also, I think NASCAR has to be about consistency and your team has to be up front every week. I think that's what the 10 teams in front of me have done, and we're just right there. We've been consistent but not quite consistent enough."

SHOULD THE CHASE BE DEFINED ON WHAT HAPPENS THIS YEAR? "I think NASCAR looks at things for awhile. I don't think they make decisions off one race or one year. If they do make any changes to The Chase it's going to be to make it a little more exciting. It's not going to be off Kasey Kahne and whether he's got five wins or not. I don't think that's going to play into it. When they do make a change to The Chase it's going to make it more exciting and probably put more pressure on the drivers as it gets to this race and as it gets to the final 10. That's good for the fans. It's good for TV. I enjoy it as a driver. I'd much rather be 30 points out this weekend than 200 points out and have no shot. That's no fun at this point. Making The Chase is what every team wants to do and needs to do. We still have a great shot to do that."

WILL YOU MONITOR THE CHASE COMPETITION? "I think you've just got to go out and get the points, especially the first 300 laps. It'll be about leading laps and trying to run up front, seeing where your car's at and trying to make it better. That's track position. You're going to want to be up there. After that maybe there will be some things that have happened and certain guys are out of the race and are still in the race and running third or fourth and you've got to be in front of them. Then you'll have to start trying to get a little more out of your car, whether or not you can, usually I go about as far as I can every lap so that will probably be tough. There's going to be a lot going on. It's going to be fun. It's going to be an exciting night. I'm glad I don't have any enemies going into this race. There are guys out there with enemies and I know about them. It's been a long season. It's been a great season. I'm excited for the weekend and can't wait until Saturday night. I don't want to say a word about anybody. If you say something about Tony, the next thing you know he'll be on top of me and I don't want anything like that."

IS THERE ANYBODY AHEAD OF YOU NOW THAT YOU THINK YOU CAN MAKE A MOVE ON? "Mark and Jeff are the closest, so that's good for us. Tony is pretty close, but he runs really good at Richmond. I've raced in the front the last three races and every race the 20 has been up there. I can remember him being up there before I was in Nextel Cup. I think the 20 is looking good, the 8. I said four races ago that nobody was going to catch the 8. I looked at these races and he looked good at the start of the year. Not counting Matt Kenseth, he's probably been the best car in the last four races. They've done a really good job."

HAS ANYBODY ON YOUR TEAM BEEN DESIGNATED AS THE MATH MAN? "There's been some sheets made up I guess so everybody will have them on the three teams and just know where everybody needs to be with all the scenarios. Really I don't think Kenny Francis has looked at any of that stuff. I think all he's looked at is how to make his Dodge Charger fast. What's worked during the tests? What's working during the races? Just what we need to do this weekend. Sammy Johns and Ray Evernham will be looking at that stuff and maybe giving Kenny some advice, but Kenny and Keith are focused on our car and just making it go fast."

WILL YOU WANT CONSTANT UPDATES? "I just want to run my on race. I can see up front and I have a mirror to see behind me. I can look at both of them and know if they're very close to me, and I'll know where I am on the racetrack all the time. Add that up and I'll know if I need to go harder or if I'm not going to make it."

WILL THIS BE A TOUGHER RACE FOR YOU THAN ANYBODY ELSE? "I don't thinks so. They may need to hold me up, but I also need to get by them. We're going to race hard, but I've got as much on the line as they do this weekend. I want to make that Chase. I want to make it as bad as anyone else out there. I'm going to race just like I do every weekend. I think everybody else will, too. If they don't, that's the way it will happen and things will happen because of it. I'm just going to race hard and do everything I can to get to the front."

HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO PUT THIS SEASON INTO PERSPECTIVE? "My biggest goal at the start of the year was to make The Chase. If we don't make it, it'll be disappointing for the week, but after that.... My dad called me this week and said no matter what we've had a good year to this point. I think going into these final 10 races, you can look what we've done the past three or four and just sweeping California we can take two or three more races before the year's out. I think we've got a good enough team to do that. I'm happy with my team. I'm happy with what we've done. We know where we've lost the points. We know where we need to work next year to not be in this situation. Whatever happens these last 10 races I'm going to race hard and try to win."

WOULD RACING FOR 11TH BE A CONSOLATION FOR YOU? "It would work. It's not what we want, but it would definitely work. If I did finish 11th that would be the best I've finished in Nextel Cup. It would be cool to finish 11th with five or six wins. I'd be proud of that, but it's not what I want. We want to be in The Chase. We feel like these final 10 can be as good for us as anybody else, and we can do a lot of good stuff in those final 10."

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT TEAM ORDERS FROM OTHER DRIVERS NOT IN THE CHASE? "Yeah, you've definitely going to have that. There are a lot of team cars out there, but our team cars are going to race hard. Everybody is going to race hard. You want to get every spot you can no matter who you are to help out your teammates or to help Evernham Motorsports or Roush Racing or whatever team it is. It's going to be a battle from start to finish for sure. I don't know what else to say about it. Other than don't hold me up too long."

TALK ABOUT TRYING TO HOLD YOUR POSITION ON THE TRACK "You're at Richmond and it's kinda turned into a momentum track around the top the last three races. It keeps getting more and more momentum, and it's hard to pass late in the tire run for sure when your tires get worn out. It's going to be just like any other Richmond race, other than there's a little bit more on the line. I've looked at the last couple of years and really nothing, not too much more happens in this race than the first race. It's just a hard-fought race and you get what you get. I know in the drivers' meeting they'll talk about respecting the top 10 in points or the top 11 and not doing anything to jeopardize what they've got going on. That'll probably come out of Mike Helton's mouth, so it'll be a pretty serious drivers' meeting, which it has the past two years. Everybody will go out there and race like we do each week. I don't think it's going to be a much different race. There's just going to be more on the line."

YOU COULD HAVE EIGHT OR NINE WINS AND NOT FINISH BETTER THAN 11TH IN THE POINTS. DOESN'T SOME PART OF YOU THINK THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT? "Yeah, I would think if we had that many wins we should be better than that in the points. I don't know what to do about it at this point. Maybe they'll make that change for next year and the guy next year will have two wins that misses The Chase or something like that. I don't know what to think about it other than yeah, I wish there was something that said if you've got the most wins you're in."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kasey Kahne , Ray Evernham , Mike Helton