NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona
January 12, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We're going to finish up this afternoon. We've got Kasey Kahne joining us and then Carl Edwards is going to come in here in a few minutes. Kasey is with a new race team this year. He's driving the No.5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
Kasey, good to see you out there in those new colors. Talk about being here at Daytona and being with a new race team, certainly the cream of the crop. You've got to put Hendrick Motorsports right up there and you're driving the 5 car. Talk about your excitement and enthusiasm coming here to Daytona with a new race team.
KASEY KAHNE: It's really just exciting to get started, to start working with the 5 guys and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. It's really an incredible place. I was able to spend some time there over the off‑season and just try to be as prepared as possible when we get here for testing and then when we get started during Speed Weeks.
It's neat, though. It's awesome to be able to talk with Jimmie and Dale and Jeff about racing and driving and things like that, and then just all the people that they have there. I don't know, it's just been kind of a different feeling more than anything than what I've had before at other race teams. It's a great opportunity, and I want to take full advantage of it.
Today we had a really good day just trying to get our car‑‑ just trying to figure it out. They do things differently, and we're trying to kind of feel it out and see how things felt and did a little bit of two‑car stuff at the end that went pretty well, too. So I thought we had a good day. It was a nice first day at Daytona.
Q. How many laps were you able to do in the two‑car draft? How many do you think you can do, and did you notice much of a difference with the new rules?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, we went out right at the end with the 88, and he pushed me for I think about four laps, and then the time was running out, so then I pushed him for three right before it ended up, before it ran out. But I could have went a little bit further. I don't know about his car. I would say it's changed somewhat. The handling of the car has changed a little bit when you're getting pushed, and definitely the temperature has changed. So we're just trying to figure that out.
But it wasn't as big of a change as what maybe‑‑ what I thought it maybe could be. I've heard some people saying it probably wouldn't be that big and others saying it would. It didn't seem like as big of a deal as what it could have been.
Q. Robin Pemberton indicated tomorrow he wants you guys all in a big draft. Is that going to be the true tell of this package?
KASEY KAHNE: I think so because I think the‑‑ to me if the draft is fast enough and everybody can run together and you don't have to be pushing each other, then when you do have to change from one car to the other because your engine gets hot, you're going to lose way more than what you gain, depending on how close the draft is to the two‑car speed. So until we do that, it's just kind of an unknown of how fast that draft will be. I mean, you have to have 20 to 30 cars in that draft to see where it'll really stand up, stack up against maybe the tandem or a couple cars in‑line tandeming together. I think tomorrow we'll learn more about it and Saturday, as well.
Q. Just kind of as a follow‑up, so basically tomorrow if you guys discover that being in the pack, like it used to be, is just as fast as doing the two‑car thing, it could‑‑ that would be how the situation would ultimately change the racing, correct?
KASEY KAHNE: I think that's what I've kind of thought of anyways. I don't know if that's what they were‑‑ I'm pretty sure that's probably what they were thinking. You know, when you switch from the two‑car, you go from running a 44 or a 45 flat to a 47 flat, so you lose two seconds, and then it takes‑‑ over two, three laps you lose about three seconds.
So for the big draft‑‑ and you're having to switch every four laps. So if the big pack is a lot faster and closer to that, then you'll go by those cars that are switching and everything. It's just hard to say until we get in that big pack. I think the big pack is going to be faster now than it was last year, and it should be a little bit closer to those tandems. But still, the tandem at times, you're going to have to do it. It's just speed. At times you're going to see cars get hooked up and try to make some passes.
Q. The Hendrick guys have been saying even since late last year that Kenny was bringing new ideas to the table and making them think in different ways. Have you been able to tell just how differently you used to do things versus how they do things there and what sort of an impact Kenny can have and sort of helping these guys think outside the box a little bit?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think the way they look at things and the way they've been doing things for a long time is a great way, and it's really worked for them. I think Kenny looks at some of the things that way, and then others a different way. There's so many ways to go about this car and about getting around each corner and around the racetrack. So it's something we're always learning, they're always learning and just putting in time to figure it out. But I think together they all‑‑ they've worked really well together so far. It's been pretty awesome on my side to see how Kenny has fit right into that group, how they've wanted Kenny, how he's wanted to be part of it.
I had a question earlier today, was this something that you demanded of Kenny Francis be your crew chief, and it really wasn't. It was something where I went in, and when I was talking to Mr.Hendrick when we were getting the deal done, I told him, man, Kenny is really good, he should be part of this place, and it would be great if he was my crew chief. And they're like, yeah, we're going to look at it, we're going to figure it out. And from there it was all them wanting Kenny Francis.
So it's been good. It's been a really good fit for everyone, and I think together we should all be able to grow more than where we've been in the past for sure.
Q. On day one, how have you felt like you fit into the Hendrick program? I assume there may have been a driver debrief or some sort of typical routine that they do. What was it like being with a new team?
KASEY KAHNE: Really I kind of got here the same time I would have last year or any other year, and actually got here the same time at Jeff. We walked in and just got started. They're all very focused and serious about what they're doing, but at the same time you can talk and things. From an outsider in the past, you're not sure maybe how that group works or some of that, but I thought today it was really relaxed, and the guys working there, the drivers, like everybody is good people. I fit in well so far. I mean, it's pretty easy to fit in on day one, but it's been good so far.
Q. Have you had second thoughts lately about how you do things on Twitter?
KASEY KAHNE: I took a little time off Twitter, and I just got going again now. I'm glad we're racing again. I just talk about racing like I've always done on Twitter. That's about‑‑ that's kind of where that stands.
Q. Given the speed of the cars, do you think NASCAR will make a change with the restrictor plates, and as fast as they were going, how was the sensation different when the tandem drafted as opposed to the past?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I didn't really feel like it was a whole lot different. You know, we were going a little bit faster, but it felt pretty similar. In the past you can catch a big draft with two cars, and you're catching maybe eight or ten that are kind of together, and I think we've went that fast before because it felt really normal going those speeds. To me it's not a real big difference. I think NASCAR decides on the speeds and how fast they want everybody to go. But it felt pretty normal.
Q. Throughout the course of your career you've had success despite the fact that some of the organizations that you've been at times have been somewhat volatile. What's it like for you now to walk into work at Hendrick Motorsports in a place that is so solid and where you don't have to worry about that, where you've got peace of mind?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think the biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I can‑‑ I just need to make the best out of it. I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever. So I just want to do all that.
And to be at a team where it's so stable, there's so many people working at the same goal, and to have an owner, a boss like Mr.Hendrick is something that is just a great opportunity to be there and be part of that organization.
Q. NASCAR drivers seem to adjust well. That seems to be one of your traits, and you've had to adjust obviously to a lot of teams in the past. How did that help you so far do you think with Hendrick Motorsports?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, last year switching to the Red Bull, that was the first real big adjustment because those guys did things a little bit different than what we had in the past. And the whole‑‑ the other changes, we still had Kenny and some of the things were pretty normal, but I think last year actually probably helped me and helped Kenny and maybe gave us a little bit of a different outlook coming into this and knowing some of the things that will be different and how the car will feel and the engine will feel.
I think last year helped a lot, to be able to make this year a little bit smoother transition than last. And last year we made a pretty good change there. We got going pretty quick right at the start and finished strong. But it definitely takes time because it's all different. The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny, that's something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn't take us too long. But there'll definitely be some things that will confuse me at times for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Kasey, thanks for coming in and all the best to you here at the test and at Speed Weeks for sure.
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