Continued from part 1 Q: Did you have any input or did you guys discuss at all if Kasey was leading whether you'd start from the inside or outside, and was that all Kasey's decision? KENNY FRANCIS: I mean, it's definitely all his ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Did you have any input or did you guys discuss at all if Kasey was leading whether you'd start from the inside or outside, and was that all Kasey's decision?
KENNY FRANCIS: I mean, it's definitely all his decision. I thought the right side would be better because I thought I had seen on an earlier restart that the left side got jammed up a little bit. You know, but boy, it was hard to figure out which side you wanted to be on because it switches you're turning left for two turns and then turn right basically. Man, I just kept thinking, man, I don't want him to end up out in the grass on the left side coming off of 2. I thought that was probably the best idea, and I guess it worked out.
KASEY KAHNE: Kenny actually, they said, "Where are you going to start?" I'm like, "I'm thinking the inside." Kenny is like, "Are you sure? I'm thinking the outside." And then Kenny said and my spotter was thinking the outside, also. I had seen Kyle Busch get the start on the inside, but it was close. And Scott Speed, I beat him on the outside, and he actually started the race on that one.
Then I got to thinking about it more, and I thought, I'm going to go with what Kenny said here, I think that's a bet iter idea. Then Kenny told me, "Don't listen to me, you do what you want to do." I said, "I'm going with you, that's what we're doing," and it worked. I wasn't going to change. We had five or four of them there. There wasn't a chance of me swapping it up at that point.
It worked out perfect, and I'm glad that we talked about it and figured it out.
Q: With where Pit Road is, did you choose inside or outside?
KASEY KAHNE: We chose the outside, went with them.
Q: Kenny and Kasey, you guys had been in the news for the wrong reasons lately, for the questions about Dodge and Chrysler's bankruptcy, Kasey being vocal about wanting a new motor, layoffs, salary reductions. Can you talk about what a much needed boost this is to the organization, and do you think it shows, hey, we are stable, this is a stable race team, and we'll maybe put aside everybody wondering, hey, what's going on, are they going to make it, are they really in more trouble than we think?
KENNY FRANCIS: Well, everybody knows it's definitely tough times right now economically. I think everybody is feeling the pinch on that, and you've got to look at I don't really get involved on the business side at all, but you've got to look at all the expenses and what income you've got coming in and what you've got going out, and you've got to make that work.
So all that what we've tried to do is not let that distract us. It's been difficult, really, to be honest with you, to not let that distract us. There's a guy that sends it to Loomis actually every Monday, a statistical report of each race. He does an excellent job on it. Dodge has him do it. And throughout all that, since Darlington, you look at his report every week, and we're a top five car, top five car, top five car, and we just haven't had the result, but we've been there every week.
So I think it just shows that we're fighting hard and we're really trying hard, and we think we're making some headway. I felt really good about how consistent our cars have seemed to run relative to the field the past month and a half. So we're I'll tell you, somewhere in March there we weren't running like we wanted to run, and we certainly changed some stuff around and made some stuff different, and it's picked us up.
We've been working hard. Sometimes you don't see it, but today it finally paid off.
THE MODERATOR: We're going to let Kenny go. Congratulations, Kenny.
KASEY KAHNE: I would say that the times are tough, and there's a lot that goes on to make these cars show up at the racetrack. To see the fans out there today and to be able to win a race is pretty awesome for myself and for our whole company.
I think what it shows is early in the year, to me, it seems like we started behind a little bit, and they let they gave these guys that work at Richard Petty Motorsports a chance to go out and build some better race cars, some better engines and work on the setups and work on a lot of things, and it's paid off since the last month and a half.
Today was just kind of a bonus of winning a race and showing how much it has paid off and that we do have a lot of really smart, really good people that work super hard. It feels good to be able to win a race and show them our thanks, and show them that we definitely appreciate what they do.
RICHARD PETTY: From a financial end we'll be there next week. We've got enough money to get to the next race (laughter).
Q: Kasey, I was reading earlier today that when you first started racing on the circuit that you looked up to Tony Stewart as kind of a role model. So assuming that's true, what did you see in him and what qualities did you admire?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, as a kid and then getting to where I'm at right now, just watching Tony adapt to every type of racetrack, to every kind of car that he drives, from dirt to pavement, road course, it doesn't matter what he's in; if he's driving it and has control of that car, he's going to be fast. That's what I've always liked the most about Tony Stewart.
You know, so I've paid a lot of attention to what he does as a driver and how he does certain things under caution and what he does on the racetrack. You know, you can learn from those types of guys.
You know, to race with him like we did today and be able to win our first road course race feels great. I won my first oval race battling Tony the same way at Richmond in 2005. You know, it's kind of crazy how things happen. One of your favorite drivers, you get two of your probably biggest wins against. It's exciting for myself. It's good to race with a guy like that. He came in victory lane and congratulated our whole team. That's the kind of guy he is.
Q: Richard, two part question. One, what do you think of the double wide restart? And two, would you have liked to have done that in your career?
RICHARD PETTY: You know, from the spectator standpoint, it probably causes a little bit more excitement on the deal. The overall deal that I see is that a lot of times on other kind of tracks, maybe not here, you get the first couple of cars, they've got lap cars on the inside, and a lot of times those lap cars are just about as fast or as fast as the outside. So you get the first two get gone and then the third, fourth, fifth place men get hung up by lap cars.
This makes for better racing really when you get right down to it. You don't mind seeing a caution flag now because you know that when you start you're going to start up front. A lot of times before you'd be sixth or seventh, which is 10th or 12th in the lineup, and that really puts you behind.
I think from the drivers' standpoint and from the racing standpoint, I think it's going to keep a lot of our cars that are running somewhere close a lot closer, and I think it'll make for a lot better racing. This was a little bit different here, and we hadn't run any of the real short tracks yet, either. So we were fortunate starting at, I guess, Pocono, and it's wide open, and we went to Michigan and it's wide open.
It didn't really make that much difference here. Here it probably made a lot of difference because I seen the 48 car just knock the floor out of the 2 car in one of the restart deals. Luckily that was some of the biggest stuff.
Overall I think everybody sort of knew what was going to happen and probably watched it as much as they could.
Q: Richard, you had a lot of lean years when it was still Petty Enterprises. Did you ever think, I may never get to victory lane again?
RICHARD PETTY: No, I'm a hard head. That's the reason I keep coming back. The same deal that I run into when I drove the car, okay. I drove, and I won in '84, I guess, and then didn't win anymore. When it finally dawned on me you're not good enough doing your job to win any more races, so you'd better get out.
But this is a little bit different because you've got to figure that here it's a team. Of course it was a team when I was driving, and I wasn't carrying my end of the deal. But when you've got drivers like we've got now that's carrying their part of the load, then it's up to me to push the mechanics or push everybody to give these guys the very best that we can give them. And when we give them the good stuff, then they're going to run good.
Again, I'm a very optimist (sic) person. Just because we didn't do it yesterday, that doesn't mean we can't do it today. Just like one of those deals that if we hadn't have won the race today, we would have went to New Hampshire and in my mind we would have won New Hampshire. But this makes it a little better going up there now.
Q: Richard, one of my photographers told me, and I have a hard time believing it, but you actually took a swig of wine in victory lane, and if you did
RICHARD PETTY: Oh, yeah. That's the reason I like to come to Napa Valley. I got in a cave the other night, they had wine down one side in big barrels and then they had wine down the other side. As we walked in I think we drunk something out of every barrel. That was a long deal.
It was straight, and when we got to the other end, and when I turned around, that dadgum cave was like that and like that (indicating zigzagging). It changed after I went up through it. It was straight going in, it wasn't too straight coming out (laughter).
Q: Kasey, you worked with Ray, now you're getting an opportunity to work with The King. What's it been like for you and what have you learned from him?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, it's been a lot different because when I came in and was working with Ray, initially I had no experience. I came in and Ray was a huge part of what I was doing off the bat. He was there, Bill Elliott, I talked to him on the phone, he would go to test sessions with me, and he was a big part of our 2004 season, those two guys.
Now it's completely different. I have a lot of experience, I've done a lot of things. But to sit down, myself and Richard, we sat down at Darlington for an hour and a half in his bus and just went over racing situations, people, just so many different things that I can sit there and somebody else I can learn from. I've always tried to, whether it was racing Sprint cars, moving up to the Nationwide Series, the Cup Series, I've tried to listen to the people that know what they're talking about for different I know how to drive a sprint car, but I don't know how to drive a Cup car, so let me talk to somebody who does and try to learn from them. It's nice to have those types of people, and that's what Richard is, just an awesome guy to have around and to be able to talk to and learn things from.
Q: Just talk about the big picture, three points out of 12th place now. How important is that?
KASEY KAHNE: It's really important. You know, the Chase is what we work for each year. The drivers, the teams, the sponsors, we have Best Buy and Stanley and Dodge, Allstate, McDonald's, Siemens, Valvoline, so many people that are part of our whole race team, and we need to have a car in that Chase.
Our Budweiser Dodge has been quick. We've been we're right on the verge. It's been like that a couple years now, and we need to make it. We need to figure out how to make the Chase and just be consistent. We've ran strong for the last six races, like Kenny was saying, top five, top ten material. Haven't finished there, but we've been there, and today we did. We're still that close to the top 12.
I think we have a great opportunity if we keep showing up and working as hard as we have been to make the Chase.
THE MODERATOR: Great race today. Congratulations on the win.