KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Avenger) ON COMING TO TALLADEGA WITH THE COT "We got something we tested, so we have a little bit of an idea. The track is so smooth that there is not a lot to do to your car; you just make it so it drives...
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Avenger)
ON COMING TO TALLADEGA WITH THE COT "We got something we tested, so we have a little bit of an idea. The track is so smooth that there is not a lot to do to your car; you just make it so it drives good and kinda mess around to see how it handles around these other cars and wait for Sunday. There's not a lot you can do right now."
WHAT WILL YOU HOPE TO GAIN FROM PRACTICE? "You just race it like you always do and see what the differences are -- how your car drafts, how it sucks up, how it pushes other cars, what it's like when cars are sucked up beside you and if they slow you down or if you slow them down; that kind of stuff. It could be pretty exciting this whole weekend. I think it's going to be pretty exciting."
LAST YEAR WE HAD A PLATE CHANGE ON SATURDAY. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS A PLATE CHANGE? "It slows you down a lot. It's a big difference when they change those a 32nd or a 16th, whatever it is. It's a big difference."
HOW DOES IT AFFECT WHAT YOU CAN DO OR CAN'T DO? "With this car I have no idea. It depends how your engine runs, how it's built. By taking air away that makes your engine run, like it doesn't slow Chevy's as much, maybe Dodges it slows them down more, maybe it's the opposite, you just really never know. At the end of the day it's kinda slowed everybody down a little bit."
DO YOU LIKE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING? "It's pretty fun. It's pretty intense, pretty on edge. Things can happen. You can just be riding along and the next thing you know you're crashed. It's racing at these types of tracks and at this one, for sure, it's so smooth. I think you are going to see cars all together. I think people are going to be pretty aggressive. It's going to be pretty wild. At the end of the day it's going to be pretty fun as long as you can push your car into the trailer."
WHAT WAS THIS RACE LIKE WHEN YOU WERE IN THE CHASE? "You do everything the same way. You just really hope that you don't get in that wreck. You don't want to be a part of it. Last year we were great; we made it right by some wrecks and ended up second. This was a good track for us last year."
WHICH OF FRIDAY'S TWO PRACTICE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT? "I'd say they both will be. I think this first practice right away you will have the most cars together; so, probably the beginning of today that's where everybody is going to go on the track. I'd say that is going to probably be the most important time because that is when you'll have the biggest pack."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SCOTT RIGGS LEAVING? "I really think Scott's done a good job for what he's been given over the last years. I feel like it's been tough for all of us. We made it into the top 35 this year early on and he never did. And, he's never been able to get there and it's been really hard for him and his team. It's just been a rough year. They're not going to be able to replace him with anybody better."
SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Avenger)
On his move to HAAS/CNC Racing in 2008 "There are still a lot of questions to be answered. We still haven't sat down with Matt Borland and really tried to figure out exactly how the details are going to be and what the team structure is going to be. But I feel that those guys are still analyzing everything they need to do to try and make the team as strong as they can for the rest of this year and into next year. Right now the only thing I can focus on is being successful and try to get the No. 10 in the top 35. Anything that we need to think about for next year can wait until these last seven races are over.
"There is still a lot of grunt and grind going on over here and we built a brand new car for the Charger races. I feel like it is absolutely by far the best thing we have ever built at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. To be able to build a brand new car that finally looks like it needs to look and the wind tunnel numbers show it to be true. I'm looking forward to those four races for sure. Our COT program is getting better. I still want to go out on a great note and I'm still looking to win that first race."
ON THE COT AT TALLADEGA "I was the one that predicted a long time ago that the bump draft was going to be 10 times worse in these cars than our other cars because they're so secure in the draft. But we were working on qualifying runs to make sure we get in the show."
WITH SO MANY THINGS UNCERTAIN AT HAAS WHY TAKE THAT JOB NOW? "The thing that probably influenced me the most was the phone call I got from Rick Hendrick. I talked to him a little bit about how that team is structured and the kind of resources that team is a part of. That was what made my decision pretty definite."
HOW HARD IS IT TO PASS WITH THESE CARS "You have to have help. You can have a big run and get a big run because the car in front of you is making such a big hole in the air. I think you can have a big enough run to pass someone but to continue that momentum and continue to move up and go forward. It is going to have to have some help like it always has. It seems like these cars are getting a bigger run in the draft but they're more secure. I think you will see guys taking more risks and being more aggressive than ever before."
Juan Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Avenger)
YOU WERE IN THE SAME POSITION LAST YEAR AS FRANCHITTI IS NOW, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM HIM? "He has to get used to the car, how much sliding it is going to do. How much it is going to move around from what he is used to. The brakes and coming into the pits there is no pit limiter. He is used to pressing a button and you don't worry about it, now you have to do it yourself. That is kind of hard at the beginning."
DO YOU FEEL VILLENEUVE WILL FACE THE SAME CONCERNS THAT YOU DID FROM OTHER DRIVERS LAST YEAR? "No, I think what they are talking about with Jacque is that he has only done one race. One stock car race and going and spreading to a Cup race. I think he will be fine but that is where people are concerned."
WHY ARE INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS NOW ATTRACED TO NASCAR? "I think they have always been attracted to NASCAR. I think the hard thing about it is that it was seen as a very American sport. If you were American you were in if you were not American you were not. Some people tried it but nobody every committed full time to it, so I did. When I came and I committed and things panned out pretty good I think people thought this is great. What Chip said is true, Dario was meant to be driving this car this year.
"The biggest auto racing series there is in America is this (NASCAR). If you want to make it big this is where you want to be."
YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL NOT EVERYONE CAN COME OVER AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN NASCAR "Well I think it is great that people think that. I have been able to drive a lot of different cars and be successful but at the same time Dario has done that as well. Dario drove GPM (Grand Prix Masters) for a couple years he was fast there."
WHAT IS THE ADVICE YOU GAVE HIM? "So far we talked a little bit especially about Talladega and what he can expect. The things that really shocked me in the whole train of cars they are so that you can't see the corners. You have to get used to peeking down and see where the corner is."
DO YOU THINK OTHER DRIVERS WOULD OF MADE THE JUMP TO NASCAR IF YOU HADN'T STARTED IT? "Dario would of. I think Dario had the deal done when I talked to Chip. I didn't even know about it. I found out afterwards that I was taking Dario's seat. We are very good friends and I didn't want to take his place but I really wanted to do this with Chip."
Chip Ganassi (team owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
YOU NOW HAVE THE MOST INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LINEUP OF ANYBODY WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FROM A SPONSOR STANDPOINT? "I think it certainly opens up opportunities not only for us but for the entire sport. In any major corporation at the top levels of it, it is international. Whether it is management or product or the company itself. The world multi-national company is in everybody's language today. Sports are international whether it's the NFL, baseball or hockey or some of the things that NASCAR gets compared to from time to time. I think it opens up some opportunities. There certainly some interest from companies that have a global audience and that is a great thing. But that is for other people to talk about. I'm in charge of the drivers."
Dario Franchitti (2008 driver of the No. 40 Dodge Avenger)
ON PREPARING FOR NASCAR "I'm just going to ask a lot of questions. One of the first times I sat in a stock car was yesterday. I got in the thing and got my seat fit.
"I did a couple years of racing over in Germany. So I've driven with a roof over my head before. I'm just going to be around asking questions. I'm going to be asking Reed (Sorenson), Juan (Montoya), all the crew chiefs and all the guys at the shop. These guys have been through this before with Juan. I think that is really a big help to me because they have been through those growing pains last year. That was another big reason I came to this team because I knew it was done before.
"I've been intrigued by the challenge of NASCAR for quite a while. Winning the Indy 500 and the Championship made that decision easier because I had achieved what I wanted to achieve. It was time to move on and jump into this new world."
ON GOALS FOR SUCCESS "Right now we are just taking it week by week with this program that Chip has to introduce me to stock car racing with ARCA and Busch. We really haven't spoke that much about the right away (goals) yet."
WAS THE DECISION TO COME TO NASCAR MADE BEFORE YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "My mind was made up before that. That was just icing on the cake from a terrific season. It felt really, really good to be able to get that victory (Indy 500) and that Championship. To win those together was special."
ON RACING WITH NEW DRIVERS IN NASCAR "That is all part of the learning process. They have to build up that trust with me. I just have to learn. I've been doing open wheel for so long that you know exactly how one driver is going to react opposed to another. I look forward to racing these great drivers."
WHAT WAS YOUR ATTRACTION TO NASCAR "It was the racing and I keep talking about this new challenge. But I've been doing open wheel racing for so long that I was anxious to try something else. NASCAR intrigued me, the competitiveness of the series all those things that go into it. I love the competition of it and just learning something completely different. At this point I have no clue. But going from a position of team leader to a rookie, it's different."
DID YOU EVER PICTURE YOURSELF AS TEAMMATES WITH MONTOYA? " I think it is really good to have him here. It is good because you can relate to him. That is really going to help. Reed as well, he has been really cool about it. I'll just be asking a lot of questions. Juan and I were teammates for one race in GPM in 1996 so we've done this before but I'm looking forward to working with him. It is going to be fun."
-credit: dodge motorsports