Teleconference: Kasey Kahne

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge for Evernham Motorsports, was this week's guest on the NASCAR Teleconference as he heads to Richmond International Raceway - hoping for a strong enough run at the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 to secure a spot in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

Q: Kasey is the only driver outside the current Top 10 eligible to race his way into the Chase. Later on we'll be joined by Jeff Burton who is 10th in the current standings and he'll be available for questions also. Kasey, you lead the series with five victories this season, you trail Jeff by about 30 points and you're attempting to make your first Chase, what will it take?

KASEY KAHNE: It's just going to take another good night like we had at California. Just going to have to run up front, lead laps and get all the points we can possibly get. We were able to do that at California and get maximum points. I think if we get maximum points at Richmond we can definitely have a good shot at making it. It's going to be tough. It's going to be a competitive race and just have to see where we wind up. I'm looking forward to it, though. It should be a good time.

Q: Would you consider this season a disappointment if you did not make the Chase, especially with having the most wins of anybody this year?

KASEY KAHNE: I don't think it would be a disappointment. It would definitely be upsetting that we didn't make it. You know, somebody is not going to make it. The season we've had has been an awesome season. We're hopefully not done winning, whether we're in or not, I think we still have some wins in us. It's what it is. Hopefully we do everything right this weekend to make the Chase and we don't have to worry about anything else.

Q: With the points race being as close as it is, have you found yourself one position short of making the Chase on the last lap with someone in front of you, how would you approach the car in front of you at Richmond this weekend?

KASEY KAHNE: Just race like I always race, thoughtful, try to pass every car that I can see. I don't think you want to get into a Chase by swiping somebody out on the last lap. I don't think that's the way to do it. Just race like I always race and be aggressive and bring the car home in one piece and see where we end up in the points.

Q: You typically do pretty well in the Cup race when you race in the Busch race that same weekend. Whose idea was it that you kind of limit your schedule this weekend, is that something you guys are consciously doing?

KASEY KAHNE: Actually, you know, when I do race Busch, it seems like we raced pretty good in the Cup car like you're saying. This weekend I was supposed to race at Busch and we decided not to. I'm thinking about it now, kind of wishing I was, but either way, it should be all right. It will give me more time to focus on the Cup car.
Last week the Busch car actually really helped the Cup side because we learned I learned some things driving that car and then we used the Cup set up to help that car out. So it was definitely a big part of why we did so well was running both at California.

Q: What about the rest of your schedule, are you trying to kind of clear it, do you do better when you have more time to think about the Cup race or when you are kept busy in less time, because you were pretty busy last week overall.

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think usually the busier I am, the probably the better I do for some reason. I'm going to try to stay pretty busy hopefully throughout the end of the year and run some Busch races. I think we have, I don't know, six to go still. I think I still have six Busch races left, so that's going to be pretty good.

Q: If you could talk about the venue, the racetrack at Richmond from sort of two different perspectives. One, it seems to be a track that a lot of drivers say is a favorite, if not the favorite track of theirs and I wonder if it is yours, too. And because you and chassis 125, your places to shine have been the intermediate tracks, from your own place, is there a place you could be more confident going in?

KASEY KAHNE: Richmond to me is just another racetrack. It's nothing where I won my first Cup race, that's pretty cool. Not one of my favorites to go to. Never really thought it was one of my favorites. A good racing track. It's a good place to have the final race because you can race, and you can, you know, it's going to be a battle, a short track, where everybody's together and things happen. You know, if we went to a Charlotte or something like that I don't really care where it ends up. I think Richmond is a good stop.

Q: Are you looking at Saturday night's race as a match race between you and Jeff because you're so close in points?

KASEY KAHNE: Not really. Not at all. I'm looking at, you know, just doing everything we can. I think Jeff's going to be good. His car was really good in the first race there. Tony Stewart, Mark Martin are all going to be good. As close as all three of those guys are, it's just going to come down to what happens late in the race. I don't really look at one guy as who I have to beat or not. We just got to go out there and try to beat everybody.

Q: Would this be the kind of race that you go out 100% from start to end and maybe be more aggressive than usual?

KASEY KAHNE: I think it's going to be similar to California. I didn't give up any position easy. I battled to try to lead as many possible laps. Cars were better than I was and I tried to battle with them and hold them off. That's what you have to do if you want to gain as many points as possible.

Q: You may not have an objective opinion on this issue, but if you don't make the Chase, and you have five wins, right now obviously you're leading the series, do you think that's a flaw in the Chase points system, after the first 26 races, should the guy with the most wins automatically be in the Chase?

KASEY KAHNE: I don't know what they will do with that or if they feel like changing it. I feel you start doing stuff like that, next thing you know, why even have points? Just give people bonuses for doing certain things that make the fans happy. I'm not really for that.
I think you need to put a full season together if you want to go for a championship. If you want to be in the Chase, you need to have a full season. It can't be hit and miss. We missed for a little while and now we're back on, and hopefully we have enough time to make it.
We'll just see what happens. But the other two guys with the most wins are first and second. Usually when you have a lot of wins, you're good in points. We just screwed up for a couple of weeks.

Q: You have the most wins in the series, but you're 11th, how much do you think getting into the Chase has become points racing and running consistently versus getting wins?

KASEY KAHNE: I think it all helps. If we didn't have five wins, we wouldn't be even be close to making the Chase. We've had some other races that we didn't do as well as some of the other teams and got behind a little bit. If we would have just been consistent and not won five races and won one race, we wouldn't be close in points. You've definitely got to win races and I think you've got to be consistent at the same time if you want to make it in there.

Q: You were nervous going into last week, is there other nerves going into this week, and knowing that it's all on the line right now?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, there's definitely going to be some nerves going into the race. There is at every race, and then this one has just got a little bit more on the line. There's a lot relying on what we do on Saturday night. I look forward to it. I enjoy the pressure and I enjoy being in this position. I think it's pretty cool that we still have a chance to make the Chase and that we're running as good as we're running.

Q: Is there any I know you always want to look forward, is there any kicking yourself over the final laps or at Indy and Watkins Glen at this point, knowing if you had finished those races, you would be in pretty securely right now?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, definitely. You look back at the driver and you beat yourself up over certain stuff. But I mean, if I start looking back at that, I've got to look at the engine that broke, I've got to look at running terrible on restrictor plate tracks and not running good at other places and things. So there's always things you can look at and be mad at yourself for or depressed about, but, you know, you've got to look forward if you want to go fast and win races.

Q: Has Kenny revealed any wisdom or special plans for the weekend, especially since he hit the home run a few years ago and raced his way in at Richmond?

KASEY KAHNE: No, he's been doing the same stuff. He's going to be aggressive with setups and things like that. Adjustments, we'll be aggressive with those during the race, but it's just where it's at. He did a good job the last time he was in this position, and he got back in the hunt this last weekend in California. That guy is always up to make our car quick and to make everybody happy and proud.

Q: As somebody who has been in this position before, what's going through Denny Hamlin's mind this week, as a rookie holding on to a Chase spot with one race to hold onto it?

KASEY KAHNE: I would say just probably, you know, feels like he's sitting pretty good and just needs to run good and needs to finish the race, and, you know, run well this weekend and he'll be good to go.
So he's probably pretty happy with where he's at and probably looking forward to getting to Richmond and getting it over with and seeing where we all end up.

Q: NASCAR in California made an announcement regarding the Chase in case there is a tie this year. How did that did that give you, knowing what might happen at Richmond, a better feeling knowing that if there is a tie between whoever is in tenth and 11th, that both of you would go in instead of it going to the tiebreaker that they had talked about before?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, I think that's pretty cool that they did that. I really think you should be in. You know, if you're tide for tenth or if you're 11th and close enough to the leader in points, that's then you should be in. I think that's good that they made that clear and everybody knows going in.
I wouldn't mind tying and having 11 cars in the Chase. I think that would be pretty cool, too. So just whatever happens. But it's definitely good to know that, you know, that with a tie, you are in.

Q: Wondering how you think your teammates will be involved in this weekend's race. Pretty much all the bubble drivers have another teammate in the Top 10; you don't. Will that cause an issue, will them helping out each other, or since your two teammates are not in the hunt, will that benefit you?

KASEY KAHNE: I just think that my teammates are going to race as hard as they can and try to get the best finish they possibly can, and whatever that is will help me. So you know, if they finish in front of the other guys, or in front of Jeff Burton, two guys, that's two positions, so it's going to be they are going to be doing everything they can to run up front just like the 9 car, and hopefully we'll get all three cars in the Top 10.

Q: You talked about the Busch cars before about how that has helped you with setups in the NEXTEL Cup series, is that something you plan on doing for the remainder of the season, whether you make the Chase or not?

KASEY KAHNE: I have a certain amount of races that I've decided to do this year, and I think I have five or six of them left still. So I'm going to finish those out and, you know, that's how many I've got. I think either way, you know, we race pretty good whether I race Busch or not, but sometimes it's nice to race Busch and kind of see where the track is at and see what adjustments help the car the day or night before.

Q: Back in June of 2004 at Dover, you were kind of like out in front of the whole entire race, and I think you hit some oil and you crashed. Do you remember that race?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I remember that race really well.

Q: Do you think like Dover owes you something for leading as many laps, and the circus coming back here in a couple of weeks?

KASEY KAHNE: I don't know if it owes me anything, but, you know, it would be nice to win at that track. It's a lot of fun to race at. Actually, ever since that race, we haven't really ran that year until this year, we ran pretty good the first race. We needed that one race and haven't done much since, but yeah, hopefully I can win at that track soon.

Q: I have talked to a lot of drivers at this time of year who are in a chance for a championship. And it's down to the last trace race, and it will be two or three drivers and they all tell me about when we talk about pressure, they all say, "Well, you know, I've put a lot of pressure on myself." That's a standard answer. What's the real answer about going into something where so much is at stake?

KASEY KAHNE: Man, you just want to perform, you want to do your best, do everything you can to run up front and just make everybody that's part of Evernham Motorsports happy. It's tough to do, but it's just pressure, that's the way it is. That's why we do this stuff. We enjoy it, and at least I enjoy it and pressure's cool. It's good to have once in awhile to get through and when you wake up Sunday morning, I'm going to know where I'm at and hopefully we're in.

Q: Is there more pressure given the fact of everything that is happened at Evernham Motorsports, normally, this is an abnormal situation because normally, everything runs smooth there. This year, it hasn't. So you've got an opportunity to give back to Ray something he dearly wants.

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, you know, for Ray and for our sponsors, for everybody that builds our race cars, it would be huge to make the Chase and it would be definitely disappointing if we didn't, if we didn't make it.
But for the organization, that's what you have to be. You have to be in the Chase and you have to go for a NEXTEL Cup, and that's what we're working really hard to do this weekend. Ray is on top of it. He has three cars in the Top 3 last week, and at one in the point race, we all raced our way there and that shows that we're definitely focused and giving us what we need to run up front and win races.

Q: You just alluded to this a few seconds ago, but could you talk a little bit about what you felt like when you had all three of your teammates right there with you?

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I felt pretty good. I'm pretty excited that we're all up there, and, you know, my lap times were just a bit better than theirs, so I was pretty happy that I was pulling away and everything felt good. It was cool to get all of the Evernham cars in the Top 3 or anything like that. We had a couple problems later in the race or we would have all finished in the Top 10.

Q: Is everything okay there, the people who were sounding the alarms a couple weeks ago were not informed yet, or are there issues the team needs to work on?

KASEY KAHNE: No, I don't think there's any anything to work on and everything is great at Evernham Motorsports, we all work together and have the same race cars like we did early year in the year. And it's great to have Helio, he's doing an awesome job. We ran almost identical setups this weekend and we ran 1, 2. It shows that if you work together as teammates, you can learn a lot and that's where we're at.

Q: Can you describe anything in your past racing experience that prepares you for being this close to the Chase?

KASEY KAHNE: I don't know. I think this weekend, you know, last weekend at California prepared us pretty well. We just know that we need to step up and gain points, and we did that. So we'll go into Richmond the same way as we went into California and try to do that again, lead as many laps as possible and get all the points we can get. We're ready. I've been in a lot of pressure situations over my time racing, and it's time to step up and see what happens.

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