Kasey Kahne at Darlington
Kasey on the new Car of Tomorrow
We were at Rockingham testing trying to get an idea for this track. You donít get the same tires but you can figure out the track and get an idea of the travels for your car. Weíre sliding the rear of the car, similar to what we have now but it might be worse. Right know itís tough to pass. Itís a learning car. Every time we get in it whether itís Darlington, Martinsville, Talladega, itís a learning process. Even the cars that are fast right now complain about the same things I complain about and weíre just a little bit slower than them. Itís not as much fun to drive Ďcause it doesnít handle as well. Itís tough but weíll figure it out
Does the new rear wing get in your way?
The new wing might block the view a little more than the spoiler we have now. But the Busch spoiler is worse than everything. Itís so tall and the attitude you run the car at with the tail up. If someone would stand behind the car all you could see would be their head. This new car has such a big front windshield in it youíll need lots of tape to keep the sun out. Right now you can see straight up into the sky. I think itís way too much window.
You have had a rough season so far. Have you got any radical changes planned for the rest of the season?
The main thing weíve been doing is testing the car of tomorrow so weíre better prepared for when we do run that car. At Bristol Evernham Motorsports had some of the fastest cars. At one time all three cars were in the top five. Then each car had a different problem.. Weíve been fast we just need some luck. We need to get away from that 36th spot. Itís no fun being back there, I know that.
Is it difficult to go back and forth from the car of tomorrow to the regular car?
Theyíre both race cars and theyíre similar. There will be things different. But after a lap youíll figure it out and, next thing you know, youíre right were you need to be. Itís not a big change.
Did you test the Car of Tomorrow at Darlington?
No we didnít. Only a few teams did. And they were out there alone most of the time. Racing is a whole lot different than just driving around by yourself. They will bring better notes than we have. All the Hendricks car will show up the way Jeff Gordon figured was best for him. They were here for 2 days so Iím sure they learned something.
Did you take any time off over the Easter week end?
This weekend I was at home Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday I was at the shop and Friday and Saturday I just relaxed and had some fun. Sunday was at the White House and Monday they had the Easter egg roll. Itís been going on for many years, and they had over 1200 kids on the south lawn of the White House. In the morning we had breakfast with Mrs. Busch, the first lady. Then I read a book to about 50 kids. It was a racing book so that was pretty cool. Iíd read it before so I understood the words. There were only about six words to a page so it was pretty easy to read. But, they enjoyed it and the weirdest thing about it was I didnít know about the thing until about 3 days before the event and there were people showing up with #9 shirts and Dodge stuff. I was surprised that any race fans showed up at the White House let alone some of our own fans.
Kasey you were missing your Crew Chief for the first four races this year did that effect your racing?
It was frustrating to loose him for no reason at all. And Kenseth lost his for the same reason.. Either way weíve got him back now. Kenny is a big reason we won six races last year. And why Evernham Motorsports is as good as they are. Itís nice to have him back. We lost all three crew chiefs. So it was a big deal to loose all three men for two and four weeks. We had a lot thrown at us. We didnít get as much thrown at us as Toyota, being new like they are. We have a brand new nose on our car this year, and weíre still learning the aero on the car.
Would it be special to win at Darlington?
The historyÖthe Southern 500.., and all you want to be one of those elite winners. But, as a younger driver this place is so tough, every single corner every single lap, to win here even without the history would be huge. The pressure and focus needed to run hereÖThere are a lot of reasons why I would to win at Darlington. The first time I was here was in a Busch car and it was so difficult and so hard to figure out. We only ran about half the race and it was rained out. I finished 18th. And I was really excited to finish 18th. Since then weíve raced pretty well on the Busch and the Cup cars. When I heard they would spend 10 Million dollars on the track I didnít think, boy, this will make it better. I thought if theyíre going to do all this work, weíll get to keep coming back.
The Silver Crown open wheel cars will race at Darlington will you be here?
Iíll be here to watch it. Iíd just as soon drive a stock car at this track. Itís tough to say what kind of race itíll be. Itís a series they are trying to grow. It should be exciting and entertaining. The track will defiantly be tough on those cars. The roughness of the track chewing up the tires, a lot of power and no down force. Itíll be fun to watch. Iíll be on top of my motorhome watching it.
Juan Montoya was here testing and he said it was the da**dest place heíd even seen. He was wrecking in every corner. Do you ever get comfortable here?
Not really because when your comfortable you need to go a little further and be uncomfortable if you want to be fast. Iíve never been comfortable here whether I was fast or slow. One time I tore the whole right side of my car off and youíre not very comfortable hitting the wall 5 or 6 times.
What will it take to win here at Darlington?
Track position will be key to winning here. Having a good pit crew and pit stall. Make sure the car is still in one piece and the fenders still have down force at the end of the race.
How much do you know about the engine and setup of the car when you start the race?
I usually donít know the shocks and the numbers, but I know exactly what itís going to do. I donít ask if we have a 700 pound spring here or 800 there. I just say we need stiffer or softer.
If your crew chief makes changes after qualifying does he tell you what he did?
Yes. The teams that are good communicate the best. A lot of the six races we won last year, we werenít the fastest car until the last part of the race. Not because the car just got better. We made the right adjustments
What do you remember most about your open wheel days?
I donít forget much about my racing. I forget other things that go on in my life. But I can tell you what happened this race, that lap. I remember having fun on the dirt and pavement. Some of the bigger midget races and sprint races that we won. I remember the fun and excitement. Thatís why we still do it. We have a World of Outlaw team, two USAC midget teams, and two USAC sprint car teams. I enjoy giving crew members an opportunity to work on really nice cars. We have three drivers that drive for me. And they have some great opportunities because of the Mopar engines and crews that work on them. The outlaw team will run close to a hundred times and the other two drivers about seventy each. Probably 230 times weíll have a car on a race track. Iíll get to about twenty of them. And Iíll race 6 to 10 times myself.
Do you try to help the smaller dirt tracks gain fans?
I was grand marshal at Bulls Gap Tennessee a few weeks ago. Not because I wanted to be, but I was hoping it would bring more fans out to the track and see how neat the racing was. I still love that kind of racing and I think that it is some of the best racing going on right now. Buying a race track like some of the other guys have done is not for me, I havenít even thought about it.
What do you do on your off time?
In the winter I like snowmobiling and skiing.
Do your sponsors say anything about the dangers of snowmobiles?
No, they donít say too much. Itís Ray that I have to talk to. Iím usually doiní something that he doesnít care for too much. I like dirt bikes. Ricky Carmichael is one of my good friends. I can get myself in trouble with that stuff too. I like being on the water in summer. I have a wake board boat and I try wake boarding.. But my sprint cars and race teams are what I put most of my time in away from NASCAR.