NASCAR Media Conference
February 1, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're going to bring Kasey Kahne up now. Kasey, if you want to head on up to the microphone. Kasey drives the Dodge Dealers, UAW Daimler-Chrysler Dodge. For starters, Kasey, this will be your third race here in the Cup Series. Big difference between the 2004 race and the 2005 race. How do you get back to the 2004 race you had here?
KASEY KAHNE: I think hard work by the team. There's been some changes that Ray has made at Evernham Motorsports. I think that stuff is going to be huge. It's going to be really good. This is really our first test as a team with other cars around. We went to Kentucky and Nashville a few times. But this has been a great test for us so far with Kenny Francis, Mike Shiplett, Keith and the rest of the guys that have done a great job. I think just hard work. That's what they've done over the off-season to get our Dodge Charger where it needs to be. When we come back in a month and a half, hopefully it's good enough to run top five and contend.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously with this being The UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400, one of your sponsors as well, any added pressure? Is it kind of an excitement knowing you're going to have a lot of sponsors out here for the event?
KASEY KAHNE: It's always exciting when you have sponsors at the event. UAW is a great partner of Evernham Motorsports. Daimler-Chrysler and Dodge are great partners. To win one of these races would be great. You know, to win in Vegas would be great. To win with the sponsor of the race being one of our sponsors would make it that much better. We definitely have been looking forward to coming out to this test, just kind of seeing where we're at. It's a test that you can learn a lot. You can go to Kentucky all winter long, show up in Vegas and be bad, you can show up here and be pretty good, work on it and make it better. I think so far we've been improving our car, feel like when we leave tonight, we're going to have a pretty decent car.
THE MODERATOR: You can have more fun here than you can in Kentucky, too.
KASEY KAHNE: You can definitely have more fun. Actually, Kentucky, you can gamble a little bit, too. River boats right around the corner.
THE MODERATOR: Like the Bellagio?
KASEY KAHNE: Not quite like the Bellagio. It's a small boat (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions from folks in the media center. Debbie.
Q. Debbie Arrington, Sacramento Bee. NASCAR has such a short off-season. How did you spend your little bit of time off? Did you have a chance to unwind and get refreshed? L
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I really did. After Homestead, I told Ray when I was leaving the trailer after that race, "Man, I'm going to be gone for a week and a half, I don't want to know nothing about racing."
THE MODERATOR: That's all you got, a week and a half?
KASEY KAHNE: With the season we had, we needed to get after it and get prepared and try to get our Chargers where they needed to be. That first week and a half, I went on vacation, then came back to Charlotte, did some stuff there. Then we tested and did some appearances for a while. After that, I went home to Seattle, took some time off with friends, hung out, went to Seahawk games. That's been one of my -- probably one of my funnest moments or funnest times in the off-season, has been watching the Seahawks either after Qwest Field in Seattle or just on TV. Been doing that, went skiing a couple days, raced the Chili Bowl one weekend, which was a lot of fun. Ran pretty good there. With all that and the testing we did, I'm excited. I'm ready to be back in the race car for sure. I'm glad we're in Vegas getting ready.
Q. Predictions for Sunday?
THE MODERATOR: We know who you're rooting for.
KASEY KAHNE: You know who I'm rooting for.
THE MODERATOR: Are you going?
KASEY KAHNE: Everybody in Washington are rooting for the Seahawks. Other than that, everybody seems to be after the Steelers.
THE MODERATOR: Did you put any money while you were here?
KASEY KAHNE: No.
THE MODERATOR: Are you going? Kurt Busch is going. He doesn't like either one of those teams. Are you going?
KASEY KAHNE: No. I have be to be back here to test the Busch car.
THE MODERATOR: That's on Monday.
KASEY KAHNE: I need to rent a plane. I can't do it. I don't want to do it. I'd love to go to the Super Bowl, but I need to focus on this testing.
THE MODERATOR: Damien, then Jeff.
Q. I understand you and Ricky Carmichael have a pretty close relationship. (Inaudible) beating the lap, your best time at that track. Does he have a future in this sport that you see?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know. I mean, that probably would be up to Ricky, how much he wants to pursue it. He's an unbelievable athlete, unbelievable supercross rider, motorcross rider. When he's done with that, wants to maybe do something on four wheels, he's definitely got the talent to do probably whatever he wants. Hopefully he does do something. He's a good friend of mine now. I can't wait for our first off weekend between Vegas -- California and Vegas. I'm going to go to the RCA Dome and go to his race, go with him that weekend. Should be pretty cool. He's a great guy. He's having a good season. Got some competition, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff Wolf.
Q. Kasey, is this the first year you've owned a wing sprint car team?
KASEY KAHNE: I've had one for a while. I've raced it a few times. We've put other drivers in it once in a while, but never really focused on it that much. This is the first year we've had a full sprint car program put together. Joey Saldana's going to drive it. Speedway Engines in Indianapolis are building us great Mopar Dodges. We're looking forward to it. It's going to be a lot of fun. I enjoy it right now. Last year I had a team that raced twice a month or something. I sit on the Internet or try to get to the races, see what's going on, wait for a phone call that night to see how they did. I love that stuff. They've done a great job of getting ready for the season. Joey is a good driver. Hopefully they have a lot of success.
Q. Do you know which series you're going to run? Are you going to run here in March?
KASEY KAHNE: Definitely be here in March. There's two series that they're putting together. One has really good race teams, the other one has really good race teams. They have good schedules. You just got to decide which one you got to do. For me, I haven't had any problems with the World of Outlaws. I haven't had any problems with the NFT that they're starting. We're up for whatever best fits us. We'll be in Vegas. That's an Outlaw race. If another sanctioning body schedules something against it, we'll have to miss that race. We'll see what happens. But definitely my car will be across the street.
THE MODERATOR: Doug.
Q. Doug Kazarian, Channel 13 here in Las Vegas. You've been racing for a while, but this new-found fame, you've talked a little bit about it in the past, but 50 most beautiful, things like that, do you ever take a step away and shake your head?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't think it was beautiful. Think it was bachelor.
Q. Talk about that angle, also the attention you've been getting, not necessarily driver based.
KASEY KAHNE: Right. I mean, ever since -- basically right around this time, you know, two years ago is when it all kind of started. We had some really good races in the start of '04, opened up a lot of doors, a lot of opportunities, and things have kept getting better. The main thing to me is to keep racing good and be better than what we were in '05 and you'll even get more of those doors opening. Right now I think with just a lot of the different things I've been able to do over the last year and a half, I've enjoyed it. I like doing that stuff. It takes away a little bit sometimes from the racing, and you need to really stay focused on what our main goals are and concerns. But at the same time to go and do that stuff, you know, I enjoy it, try to have as much fun doing it as I can, and learn from it every time.
Q. Jamal Brown, NASCAR Images. How is the new structure working with your engineers and your car chiefs and all that? How do you think it's going to work once we get into the season?
KASEY KAHNE: It's worked great so far. Ray Evernham, he's won championships, he's done a lot in NASCAR. He has a lot of great ideas. This one -- you know, it's different than what everybody else is doing. It's really not as different as people think from the outside. What we have is Kenny Francis is our team director, Mike Shiplett is our car director, then we have our engineer in Keith. The guys working with those three so far this week, working with them over the whole off-season, it's been great. Each one of them talk to each other. Kenny has final say in everything. Kenny is going to be on the radio talking to me during the races and figuring out things as he bounces questions off Mike and Keith. I mean, I think it's really a perfect situation. We'll just have to see how it all works out. So far it's really worked out good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for coming in, Kasey.
KASEY KAHNE: All right, thank you, guys.
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