Talladega II: Kahne - Dodge Friday interview

KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) DO YOU THINK TALLADEGA IS GOING TO BE A WILDCARD IN THE CHASE? "I think it's going to be like the other races. It's been pretty up and down for some of the drivers already and some of them ...

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

DO YOU THINK TALLADEGA IS GOING TO BE A WILDCARD IN THE CHASE? "I think it's going to be like the other races. It's been pretty up and down for some of the drivers already and some of them it hasn't been. We've just kinda had some rough times. Some things have happened. I don't know what Talladega will be like. Hopefully it'll be good for the 9 and not as good for some of the other guys I guess."

HOW CONCERNED ARE THE CHASE DRIVERS ABOUT THIS RACE? "I don't know. I haven't talked to anyone. I know I was pretty concerned looking at the schedule when we started with 10 to go. That was one of the races you don't really know what's going to happen. Anything can happen. You could lose a lot of points. At this point, I'm just here. It's just part of The Chase. We've had three bad races already in the first three races. I don't know if that's championship material, but we can definitely run good here, run good at a lot of racetracks if things go our way. We're out of it basically unless everybody else has three bad races like we have, and that's not going to happen. For me it's just another race. We'll do what we can do. We're not going to finish any worse than 10th, and I think we can still get up toward fifth, somewhere in that area if we do race well. For everybody else it is a big race and a race that things can happen good or bad."

CAN YOU RACE FOR WINS MORE NOW? "Well, I've thought that from the start. Dover, we had a great car. Last week we had a top 10 car. Loudon we had a really good car, too, and we ended up 16th. I've known that from the start. We just haven't been able to get the right finishes, do what we need to do, things have happened. We can't really lose anymore. We're right there. I'm probably a little more relaxed, racing more like I was last year at this point in time. We know what we can do and what we can't do, and we're just going to try to do everything right."

CAN YOU START LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR? "You work on that all the time, and things change so fast. We have so many great engineers and people trying to figure out how to go fast. Something we ran last week at Kansas, that setup is not going to work next year when we go back to Kansas whether you work on it through the end of this year or not. Things are going to be so changed by then it's going to be something totally different, so I think you just work on this year. You do everything you can. We look at our new Charger for next year and start getting that ready. We look at the car of tomorrow and start getting that stuff ready. Then the stuff we have now we just need to race and try to make it go fast every week."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW SURFACE AT TALLADEGA? "I expect it to be really smooth, probably a different Talladega. It's got to drive different and race different, but I would think it would put on the same show it did before. I don't really know. We'll just really have to see what happens."

ARE YOU A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN AND WHICH TEAM DO YOU LIKE? "I am a college football fan. I'm college and NFL. I like Ohio State a lot. I always have. I have some other teams I like, too, but I like Ohio State and Penn State. Those two are pretty good."

COMMENT ON DENNY HAMLIN'S SUCCESS "He's done an awesome job. Every race he's always right there. He's got the results at the end of the race and has put himself in position to get those results. They haven't been the fastest car in The Chase at all, but they're definitely the most consistent right now. It seems like they're pretty focused, and he does a good job of bringing the car home every week."

LOOKING BACK AT THE THREE CHASE RACES IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? "A blown right front tire, I couldn't have done anything. Tony Stewart at Dover, I guess I could have slowed up a couple of laps before that and been further behind, but I don't think a driver is going to do that. I couldn't have done anything there, and then last week at Kansas we ran out of gas seven laps before we were supposed to, so I couldn't have done anything there. I don't know what else to do other than just keep driving."

DID THE GAS SITUATION CATCH YOU BY SURPRISE? "It caught all of us by surprise. We were getting good enough fuel mileage the entire race to go to the end. I was saving and that final run we got six tenths less fuel mileage a lap. That was just something that's crazy. I don't know what happened. Kenny (Team Director Francis) can't figure it out. It just happened. We're confused a little bit. Tony made it. The 42 made it. We had better fuel mileage than both of them through most of the season, so I don't know what happened. It just hasn't been our three races."

DID IT SEEM LIKE IT TOOK FOREVER TO GET DOWN PIT ROAD? "It does when you're getting pushed by a bunch of people like I was. I just came into pit road way too fast and spun. When they're pushing you you just watch the cars go by. We're getting passed, passed, passed. There's nothing you can do about it."

WERE YOU AWARE OF JIMMIE JOHNSON COMING INTO THE PITS? "Yeah, I saw him coming so I moved to the right to make sure he had space to get in. It probably screwed him up. I'm probably the reason he sped, not because I was there, but because you've got another car and something is going on there. Maybe he's looking and maybe that's why he sped. If I wasn't on pit road I don't think Jimmie Johnson would have sped. It sucks for him. It sucks for us. It's part of racing."

ARE YOU CONFIDENT WHEN NASCAR MAKES A SPEEDING CALL ON PIT ROAD? "Yeah, I'm really confident and the reason why is because we have our tachs and that's what you look at. That's what you get set up with the pace car and then you try to get a couple more rpm's because you have five mph there you can take. People aren't going to go 45 if they can go 50. They're going to try to go 48 or 49. You can go 48 or 49 all day. I did it at California. I went the same speed all day. Your tach is going back and forth as your motor is jumping back and forth. If you touch it a little too much and you're at 49 mph and it goes past. If it comes back down it's not a big deal, but if you're on the edge already you're going to speed. I sped at California by .05. You can't see that. Your eyes can't see that, but the computer lines can and they will tell you if you sped. That's all it takes. You're trying to get everything you can. I didn't think I sped there, but I know I did because .05, you can't see that. That's something you could definitely make a mistake on your tach. It's not digital, so if you go over you can't tell. Unless you had a digital tach you'd never know if you sped if you were running that close to the line. If you're running 45 and you change your speed, then yeah, you're never going to speed. You're going to get beat all day long down pit road. I've tried running 45 and you'll get beat by four or five spots every stop. Harvick and Jeff Burton were the first two that were getting everything out of pit road. Everybody was doing 45. They had thought about it and went up to 48 or 49 and they were killing everybody the first couple of races and then everybody else started doing it. Now everybody is driving on that line and just a little bit and you're speeding."

DOES WHERE YOU'RE RUNNING ON THE TRACK DICTATE HOW FAST YOU COME ON PIT ROAD? "What dictates it is when you're under the caution laps getting your pit road speed. If you're in the eighth row it's a lot harder to see how fast the pace car is going than if you're on the front row. I was in the first row and Jimmie was in the second row. We knew what the pace car was. Then you add 200 rpm or whatever your crew chief tells you to add."

WHAT HAS ELLIOTT SADLER ADDED SO FAR TO EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS? "I think mainly just a little more excitement. Everybody is happy. Everybody thinks we can all three win races. We've all three worked well together on different things. Elliott has found out things for us testing, and it's really helped out our program. We've helped his program. I think it's been a really great situation to get Elliott to be part of our team."

REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS THE REST OF THE SEASON, WILL YOU STILL LOOK AT IT AS A GREAT YEAR? "I think so. I definitely know we've had a great year, but we're not done. We've got Charlotte next week, Phoenix, Homestead, Atlanta, Texas. We've got some really good tracks still -- Martinsville. We can run up front and gain points. We can get back in the top five in the points I think. I'm excited about that. However it ends up we've definitely had a good season. We just need to finish strong. That will make us feel a lot better in the offseason if we finish the last seven races as good as anybody. That will make us feel good."

HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE THE CHALLENGE OF THE CHASE TO SOME OF YOUR PAST CHALLENGES? "It's interesting. It's a 10-race deal, but the last five getting to The Chase was a lot more stressful, there was a lot more going on getting there than the first three. As time goes on it's going to get more and more stressful and you're going to want to run up front, especially if you're going for the championship. It's different for everybody in it."

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU HANDLE STRESS? "I feel like I handle it pretty well. It doesn't get to me. I still sleep. I still get focused for the race and still drive as hard as anybody there even with the pressure. I feel like those Final Four races before The Chase was as much pressure as I've ever had in a racecar."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson