KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SURGE IN THE No. 9 TEAM THIS LAST MONTH? "We've been decent this whole year and the All-Star race we got good. We've been good ever since. We just hit on a few set-up things that...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SURGE IN THE No. 9 TEAM THIS LAST MONTH? "We've been decent this whole year and the All-Star race we got good. We've been good ever since. We just hit on a few set-up things that have helped a lot. And our team morale and my communication to the team have been really good. There are just a lot of little things that I think really got going once we started winning. We haven't been bad, and we've been close all year. So it's been good. We've had good racecars."
WE'RE GETTING NEAR TO THE FINAL 10 RACES TO THE 'RACE TO THE CHASE', WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING RACES? "I'm not super comfortable with where we are at in the points (currently 7th). We definitely need to keep staying after it and keep gaining points and doing everything we can to stay in the top-12. We definitely have a lot of work to get in (the Chase) and there are a lot of good cars still on the outside and right behind us. We need to keep working. There are a lot of good tracks coming up for us. We've been fast at a lot of the upcoming tracks."
DO YOU LOOK AT THE CARS DIRECTLY BEHIND YOU IN THE CHASE STANDINGS AND FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO RACE THEM IN PARTICLUAR VERSUS THE ENTIRE FIELD? "All I look at is our performance in the Budweiser Dodge and what we need to do on each day. We have to focus on the best job that we can do and get the best finish that we can get. Whether that's a 30th, 20th or first-place, it doesn't matter to me. If it's 30th, it's not what we're looking for, but 30th is better than 35th. We just have to get our best finish -- every single weekend at every single race. If we do that, I think that we'll have a really good shot at making the Chase."
DO YOU FEEL THAT BY BEING SEVENTH IN DRIVER STANDINGS THAT YOU HAVE A SAFETY NET HEADING INTO THE FINAL 10 RACES TO THE CHASE? "The surge gave us some points and it's definitely given us a little bit of breathing room. It makes you feel good with where you're at (in the points). You just feel good about what you're doing every week and just keep doing it. If we can keep doing it (race good), we'll make the Chase."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE YOU HAVE IN KENNY (FRANCIS, TEAM DIRECTOR) ON TOP OF YOUR PIT BOX DURING FUEL MILEAGE RACES? "We have a lot of confidence in Kenny (Francis) and all the calls he makes, especially with tires and fuel. Our (GEM) engines never really have had the best fuel mileage. It's really tough to play that game (fuel mileage). Last week (at Michigan) was really the first time that I've played it that it worked. Kenny does a really good job with that -- but I had to save a ton of fuel. Dale Jr. (Earnhardt) never pitted and saved way less fuel and still made it (to the end of the race).
We have to keep working on our fuel mileage with our Dodge, but Kenny is the guy that you want making all the calls."
YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW GOOD THE MORALE IS ON YOUR TEAM, IS THERE ANYTHING PARTICULAR YOU GUYS DO? "It's tough to do a whole lot. We try to stick together at the track and do a dinner or a lunch sometimes during the week. It's tough. We have so much testing and time away from your families that when the guys aren't on the road, they need to be off doing their own thing relaxing. The best way to have good morale is win races. The best thing is to win poles, be fast in practice and be fast every weekend. That's what gets everybody going."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING AT SONOMA? "It's a good track. I've always enjoyed coming here. I really like this place. We've never had a great finish here. At times we've been really good and fast. I feel like it could be another really good weekend for us. We need just another consistent top-15 and I'm sure that we can do that."
WHEN YOU TURN YOUR SEASON AROUND LIKE YOU HAVE THIS YEAR, IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO STAY ON TOP? "I don't think so. You just have to ride whatever wave that you're on and do the best that you can. When we have good things going on, you just keep trying to improve and make things better. That's what we've been able to do (recently). When times are tough, you're just working to get better. I feel like where we're at right now is exactly where we want to be. We have some great momentum and some great racecars, so I don't see any reason why we won't keep running strong."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE TEAM SO FAR? THE CAR? THE TRACKS? A COMBINATION OF THINGS? "Our cars have been excellent. At Pocono, I've never had a car that good for 500 miles. At Charlotte, we had an awesome car throughout the entire (Coca-Cola) 600. We had a really good car during the All-Star race, especially the last-half of that race. It's a combination of all the racecars, setups and calls between Kenny Francis and Chad Johnston (Race Engineer) along with the information that I'm giving them. We really haven't had any issues. They (the team) have been doing a really good job. All aspects have been really good."
HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE HAS IT MADE RECENTLY TO KNOW THAT YOU'VE GOT A GOOD RACE CAR UNDERNEATH YOU? "It just makes you drive. It allows you to just think about racing and passing the car in front of you and doing everything you can to give back the right information. What it's all about is giving (the crew chief) the right information to make the next adjustment and when you have a car that is close; it's easier then when the car is way off. The adjustments are a lot smaller and they improve the car."
SO IT'S EASIER FOR YOU TO DRIVE THE CAR WHEN YOU JUST HAVE TO SIT BEHIND THE WHEEL AND DRIVE AND NOT HAVE TO TELL THEM ALL THE ADJUSTMENTS TO MAKE? "Either way, I have to tell Kenny what the car is doing. When your car is close, you make small adjustments and keep making it better. When (the car) is far off, you're not going to win a race unless you do it on fuel mileage or another way. You don't beat these guys; there's too much competition not to start the race with a good racecar. It (having a good car) is about the only way to win a Sprint Cup race when the green flag comes out."
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONCERNED MAKING CHANGES ON YOUR CAR WHEN IT'S RUNNING GOOD "If your car isn't perfect, then you slowly work on it. You slowly try and make it better and better. If your car is good, you just say, 'It's good', and wait until the next pit stop. The track is going to change. Your car isn't' going to be good all day. At some point you're going to have to make adjustments. If your car is good, you just wait until the next pit stop and make an adjustment at that time because the track and tires are going to change. It's just part of Sprint Cup racing. You have to makes some adjustments some point in time despite how your car is."
-credit: dodge motorsports