Sears Point: Dodge - Kahne, Gaughan interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) "I'm really happy. We could have four runner-up finishes and a win, too. That wouldn't be bad. We could have three second-place finishes and a win, you just never know. I'm real excited we had four ...

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

"I'm really happy. We could have four runner-up finishes and a win, too. That wouldn't be bad. We could have three second-place finishes and a win, you just never know. I'm real excited we had four second-place finishes. We haven't got a win yet, but we've been close. We've got to work on a few things, but we're getting better. Another lap and we probably could have got by him (Ryan Newman at Michigan for win). We were a lot faster than he was. He was on used tires, and we were on new tires. We had the car to beat at the end of the race. We didn't have the car all day, but we had the car at the end of the race."

HOW DO YOU TURN THE SECONDS INTO FIRSTS? "At Michigan we started off so bad with setup and things. We had to work on it all day to get it to the front. We restarted 19th with 23 laps to go and drove up to the front. If we could have started 10th with 23 laps maybe we would have had a better shot to win. It seems like we need to have more of a full race. When we've done that at Texas and Dover we've run up front all day long. We had great opportunities to win and didn't win. I think we're doing things right. We're just not getting that win. We expect to get a win. We expect to keep running up front as much as we can. It's made us look into getting into that top 10 and going for the points. We have to look at all that."

HAS BILL ELLIOTT HELPED YOU ADAPT TO INFINEON RACEWAY? "Bill was here for the two days we tested and he gets in tonight and will be here tomorrow. Bill's a great guy to have helping you out here. He really enjoys this track. It's one of his favorite racetracks. You've got to keep it on the black for sure, but he helped me a lot with braking and shifting. I was comfortable at the test. That was a month and a half ago, so it'll take me awhile to get comfortable again."

ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH PASSING AT THIS TRACK? "Yeah, that's why you've got to be patient and wait. You can't get excited and make any mistakes and take yourself out of the race because you're over aggressive trying to pass somebody."

IS PATIENCE ONE OF YOUR VIRTUES? "Some days it is and some days it isn't. Hopefully Sunday it will be because this is a track you need to be patient on. At the same time, you've got to watch around you because a lot of guys aren't going to be patient. You can't be too patient and get wrecked because of that."

IS QUALIFYING IMPORTANT HERE? "I think so. It is to a certain point. It'd be great to start up front and stay up front, that's for sure. That would be the best spot, but I think a lot plays into pit strategy and what goes on during the entire race."

DO YOU THINK YOU'LL STILL FEEL LIKE A ROOKIE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON? "I think it's going to be a lot better. That was one of our goals, to make it halfway through the year and then start getting more aggressive and working on doing more things. I think going back to these tracks for a second time is going to be huge. It's going to be a whole lot better. I'm excited to go back to Daytona. I'm excited to go to Chicago for the first time in a Cup car. All the tracks we go to the second half of the season will be great. I should be better at Martinsville, Richmond. We're doing a lot to help my short track racing. I struggle more there than anywhere else. We look forward to going back to those tracks."

DO YOU FEEL CONFIDENT YOU CAN WIN AT MOST TRACKS? "Usually. I'm comfortable almost everywhere we go. This weekend we don't have a lot of experience here, but definitely anywhere else. If we can finish top 15 here, stay on the racetrack all day and get a top 15 out of it we'll be satisfied. We're working hard to be in the final 10 chase for the championship. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year title is a huge goal of ours. To keep running well, win a race and run up front should allow us to be in the final 10. It's something we're really looking forward to. If we can make that final 10 it's going to be real exciting."

BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Dodge)

"We didn't come out here to test, but we went to Virginia International a couple of times. I've raced out here for a long time. I've done a lot of open wheel stuff here in 1994, '95 and '96. I've never raced on this particular track configuration. I've never raced the NEXTEL Cup course. I feel very comfortable on road courses. I'm a big road course fan."

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING FOR THE GORDONS? "With any luck I'll be able to keep up with Robby. Robby is a friend from the past in road racing. I grew up watching Robby in the Mickey Thompson. He's the guy who actually got me in open wheel and sports cars. Robby gave me advice when I was 17 years old. I had a chance to race against a lot of road racers in my life, and like I said, with any luck I can keep up with

Mr. Gordon and Mr. Gordon. If I can keep all four wheels on the track and off the dirt, we'll make a run for it in the end. I haven't talked to Robby since last weekend. I will go over and ask for some advice. I've never been afraid to ask. He'll give me advice. Will it be the truth? I don't know. I can't worry about it."

WHAT ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT? "I'm worried about not having another head-on collision in San Francisco. Me and Terry Jarrell, my PR girl, we were driving to an interview last night and got into a head-on collision. The guy did a hit and run on us. Fortunately, the great San Francisco police department and some good Samaritans came up and got his plate number. He hit three more cars along the way. He got blocked in, the police got him, no one got hurt and the good guys prevailed. I was driving. It wasn't a see thing. He pulled in front of us in about a five-foot span. We're OK. The car is gone. Avis had to give us another one. We figure we've got the crash out of the way. If we can let that be the crash of the weekend and let Avis take care of that, we'll stay here and be good with the Kodak Dodge and keep it on the track."

HOW WAS THE GIANTS-DODGERS GAME WEDNESDAY NIGHT? "I was afraid I would totally embarrass myself (singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during seventh-inning stretch), and I'm sure that's what I did. I appreciate the Giants, and they got a win that night, but I appreciate them letting me come out to do it. I figured the crowd would drown me out, but they put the speaker right in front of me and I could hear myself. Now I know what it must feel like for the people who sing the National Anthem. We had some great seats and got to see a heck of a game. Unfortunately for me I'm a pseudo Dodgers fan, but the Giants won so it was good to see the home team win. I grew up watching Harry Carey doing it in Chicago. It was cool to do it. That was my first singing appearance. No one has called to book me for another one yet. I might have to go back to throw out the first pitch again. I used to be able to throw my number when I drove the Orleans Racing Dodge Ram. I was No. 62, and I could throw that fast. I couldn't feel my arm for two days after throwing 62 mph, so I'm a little concerned about trying for the 77. I might need a pitching coach. I was a little high and outside with the 62 mph, but I didn't bounce it and it wasn't a sissy lob. It wasn't a strike, but at least the catcher caught it."



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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman