Sonoma: Pole winner interview

KASEY KAHNE - No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) ^ It was a good run. Coming to the green I felt like I overshot 11 a little bit, so when I got back there, I ran the whole lap and wasn't as aggressive as I could be - sliding the car a...

KASEY KAHNE - No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) ^

It was a good run. Coming to the green I felt like I overshot 11 a little bit, so when I got back there, I ran the whole lap and wasn't as aggressive as I could be - sliding the car a little bit - but was really comfortable and under control, and then when I got back to 11 I lifted a little early and didn't run through that corner as hard as I probably should have and probably gave up a couple tenths to Jimmie, so I was happy with the run. I'm glad we still got the pole, but I need to keep working on some corners out there, for sure."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FEEL OF THIS CAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR? IS IT A WINNING RACE CAR, TOP 5?

"Today I felt like it was. In practice first thing we were in race trim and I think we were second or third. We switched over to qualifying and we were right there in the top five also. It's a great car. It's the same car we ran here last year, minus the engine. We have a Ford engine in there which runs really well, and I'm looking forward to how that runs throughout the race and how the car handles throughout the race. Tomorrow is a huge part of the weekend in getting the balance right and having the forward drive and being able to turn and hit the corners like we want to."

WHAT GOTTEN INTO YOU AT THIS PLACE?

"I think just experience. You get better as a driver on these types of tracks. You learn the cars better. You learn the course better, and just having better race cars, too. I think the speed of the car has been, the last couple of years, has been better than anything I've had in the past."

DID THE WHEEL HOP THROW YOU OFF IN FOUR?

"I didn't have any wheel hops in my run. I might have jumped a curb, but that's a lot different than a wheel hop. Actually, I jumped the curb and may have been a little too aggressive through there, but I didn't slow up and didn't lift off the throttle and came out of it without hitting that wall, so it seemed to be alright."

HOW MUCH DOES THIS HELP AS FAR AS WINNING THE RACE?

"I think the confidence of the team and myself, and just having a great starting spot on Sunday is always nice. The strategy that you play here with fuel mileage and tires and kind of when you pit is always a big factor in this race, and how well you finish in this race. There's a lot that goes on. There will be a lot that goes on Sunday afternoon the final 20 laps with the double-file restarts. We saw that last year and, hopefully at that point in the race, we're up towards the front because it gets pretty crazy about two or three rows on back. It's wild up through there probably from turn four to turn seven."

HOW WILL THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER POSSIBILITY PLAY INTO THE FUEL MILEAGE?

"It'll definitely be a factor there. That's a good point and it's gonna be a big factor at the end of the race. We've had a lot this year and this place could easily give us two or three late in the race, so you're gonna need to figure that in. At that point in the race, hopefully nobody runs out of gas. You want to just race and you want to finish the right way, but fuel mileage is part of racing and part of everything.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD ALL 4 WHEELS OFF THE GROUND?

"I know I had at least two and maybe three, I'm not sure. It felt like my left-rear was still on the ground, so that was good. At least I had one of the four, but you just stay in the gas, I guess. That's all you can do once you get to that point. My car was going pretty straight, so I just kind of stayed in it. They're heavy cars, so they come down quick (laughing)."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A ROAD COURSE WIZARD NOW?

"No, I don't because I know what it felt like two years ago when I wasn't running up front in the race and when I wasn't making passes. I was getting passed and sliding around a lot more than I wanted to. Those are the kind of things you don't forget and I remember that, so I don't think I'm any type of a wizard at this kind of track. I need to keep working really hard to be perfect and to not make those mistakes because those guys behind you will capitalize and take advantage really quick."

WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF THIS COURSE FOR YOU?

"I always think getting into turn 11 there is a big dip in the track right as you hit your brakes, so if you try to go past that, you can wheel hop. If you try to lift early you're fine, but you don't get to 11 fast enough and they can take advantage of you on entry. That's a pretty critical spot for me, but the whole course, there are slippery spots and the track with the way the banking falls off in certain areas and you lose grip, and go over a hill and lose grip where the car gets light, so there's a lot of things that happen. It's a tough course. It's a slippery, tough course."

HOW QUICKLY DID IT TAKE YOU TO LEARN DOWNSHIFTING ON THESE COURSES AND WHAT'S ON YOUR IPOD?

"I was able to come out here in '04 and I came with Bill Elliott, who was a big part of my first year coming into the Cup Series. He went with me everywhere when we tested and helped my learning curve out a lot. So that was nice to have him because he would stand in each corner and tell me where I was screwing up and help me with my downshifts. I've also spent some time with Boris Said and trying to learn from him at some of the tracks around North Carolina and Virginia on road racing and downshifting. So I think I've learned a lot from those guys, and then just doing it yourself and running laps is a big part of it. My iPod, I broke my iPod a couple weeks ago and I don't remember what I was listening to when I broke it, so I don't know what I was listening to last. I like a lot of bands, though."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Boris Said