Kahne Among Kentucky Testers
July 6, 2009 | 4:09 P.M. EST
Kahne, who came from the open-wheel ranks, is there to help Carmichael and Sweet, among others, up to speed.
"I think that for Ricky [Carmichael] the opportunity to work with Kevin Harvick is a huge benefit," said Kahne. "You can tell that he really cares about his team and the input he gives really helps the drivers in that organization. Ricky and I are friends and I have always been a huge fan of his from the motorcycle days. I grew up in the Seattle area and used to watch him. I still watch him on tv when he is commentating the motorcycle races. I went with Ricky to a Late Model test at Hickory [Motor Speedway in North Carolina] and he made some laps. That's what he needs more than anything - laps. The advice that I give everyone is to work up to it. Just take your time. You see guys like Ricky who are so used to just going out full force every time they do something so you worry a little bit their first time in a car, hoping that they will take their time. Ricky did really well. He took his time and worked up to it, just like I would have done. I had a lot of people help me out when I first started Cup racing. Especially Tony Stewart and Bill Elliott-those two probably helped me more than anyone. It's good for me when I am able to help others now just like people helped me when I was starting out. This is Brad's first time in a stock car ever.
"The track doesn't feel quite as rough today as it did last time I was here. It definitely needs some work before they bring Cup cars here though. I hope they do make those changes before that happens. Vegas is unbelievable. The fans are so close at that track. They are basically inside of your car while you are driving. You look up and it's like whoa! It's a good thing though because the fans are so important to what we do."
Carmichael is running a mix of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and ARCA RE/MAX Series races in 2009.
"This transition [from bikes to stock car racing] is going good," said Carmichael. "I've really enjoyed it. We've had some good runs. You have to be realistic with the expectations. I got an ARCA car here and we are testing that. For me, that is huge because now when we come to the race I won't feel like I'm behind. I like the ARCA cars. I really enjoy them. They seem to really stick to the track.
"The transition from motorcycles to auto racing is going good. I have really enjoyed the whole process. We've had some good runs. You have to be realistic with the expectations. I met Kasey Kahne in 2004 in Daytona through Oakley-a sponsor of ours. He has become a good friend ever since and has really helped me with things. The decision to stop driving the bikes and start driving stock cars was not too difficult. I knew that I was at the end of the road there. I had pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. Kevin [Harvick, team owner], has gone out of his way to help me here so I am very thankful. I hope he lets me run the ARCA race. That would be fun. In the motorcycles you have to have so much more physical strength whereas in the stock cars require more mental strength. I don't know if that is because you are going so fast in a stock car or because it is something that is new to me so it is more mentally taxing."
ARCA RE/MAX Series regular Justin Lofton is also helping coach his teammate Tim George, Jr.
"Everyone is coaching here today," said Lofton. "My car isn't here but I have my suit on and I have made a couple of laps. My teammates are here and they are both rookies. It's been a big learning curve for them this year but heading into the season we knew that they would make some big gains mid-way through the year and so far they have made tremendous gains in the last several races. They are doing great. Eddie Sharp Racing is a great organization and I wouldn't want to race for any other team in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. As a second-year driver it's very cool to me that they want my input. I don't have a car here but I did make a few laps and I am noticing how the cars are reacting to different changes the teams make to the cars so I am going to go back to the shop and give that feedback to my crew chief Mark Rette and we will make a game plan and come back here in a few weeks and hopefully it will be a good race for us."
Current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Parker Kligerman is also in the coaching mode today, assisting rookie Dakoda Armstrong.