NASCAR Media Conference
September 2, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Kasey, big race Saturday obviously, what's the confidence level of you and your team coming into Richmond?
KASEY KAHNE: I'm looking forward to it. I think just to come in and really just do the best job we can, we've kind of been put in a position, but all we can do is do our best and hope that it works out for us and kind of see how the points end up being.
If we run our race, it doesn't necessarily mean we are going to make it into the Chase. We feel like Kenny and the whole Budweiser team is doing a good job of preparing the cars and we feel like if we can go out there and try to get a rely good finish and look at the points at the end of the night and see where they are at.
Q. Were you surprised how quickly -- at Bristol, you get into something that is absolutely not of your making and all of the sudden you're looking outside looking in?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I was really surprised. I went into Michigan kind of thinking that we had been running really strong, we had been right there every weekend. I felt like maybe we had a shot at maybe being sixth in points, maybe passing Jeff and Tony, and then just racing happens. Things happen and we're 14th looking in now.
Yeah, I was really surprised to see how quickly we lost a lot of spots and ended up maybe having a shot at making it in. It's going to be close to see if we can even get in the deal now.
Q. Is it more heartbreaking when it is not of your own making? You know, that you had absolutely nothing to do with what happened in those two races, and just all of a sudden it's like, boom and gone.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it's disappointing, but at the same time, we have been -- our team -- we have been a team all year and we have done everything that we possibly can to get the best finish as possible all year. I think we've been pretty consistent with what we've had. Keep doing the best job we can. We're 14th now so, yeah, it came out of -- it's a bit of a surprise to see that. I think that we're better than that, but you know, now it's what it is and we'll see if we can make it.
Q. Did anything happen after you got so much momentum in May and early June that you feel like you did drop off a little bit?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't really feel like we did. I feel like we had that month there where we had some great luck on our side. We had some great races and great race cars, and kind of once that was gone, we were back right about to where we have been all season long and to me, it adds up to 15th, which is kind of where we've been.
So yeah, we weren't winning any more but you're not going to win all season. I feel like we've just had a really strong month and we kind of fell right back to where we were and we're working hard to keep getting that 7th -- move that 7th up to 6th or 5th and just keep working on getting better.
Q. Also, can you talk about a few years ago what it was like, Mayfield had won the race and knocked you out of there, just that whole experience?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, you know, we went in, we didn't run that good that night, we were a little off throughout the night and we didn't get the points that we needed. It was one of them races where we went in thinking we had a shot, didn't turn out that way, and we ended up with that kind of -- I think we ended up 14th or something, or 12th maybe. I think it was 12th that year. That's the way it goes. We'll do the best we can again this year and if things work out, we are going to make it and if they don't, we are not going to make the Chase.
Q. How much pressure is there on you for the Chase? David Ragan, there's no pressure on him, because anything that he accomplishes would be a Cinderella story. Talk about how much pressure is or isn't on you and your team headed into this race and this Chase?
KASEY KAHNE: There's definitely some pressure, pressure that we've put on ourselves and really that was our goal and is our goal to make the Chase this year. That was one of our big goals.
Right now we are right on the outside. There's definitely pressure I think and that's a big part of the season is to make the Chase or not for the team and the company, for the sponsors. Everybody is a part of and there's some pressure and we'll do all we can and hopefully it will end up being a enough. But you never know, nobody knows until the end of Saturday night.
Q. Last time around, you finished 10th at Richmond and you talked about wanting to win, are you looking at, there's a bottom line, a spot, a finish that you need to make sure you get into the Chase, and will you be factoring going for bonus points during the race?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, bonus points, just to lead a lap, that's something that we have got to shoot for. We need to lead a lap and hopefully we can qualify right up front and do it early in the race and just see where our car goes.
Yeah, I think winning, that's kind of hard to get in. If we finish tenth, we'll probably have a really small chance of making it, would be my guess. So yeah, I think we need to go there to win the race and if we can, we'll have a good shot, and if we can't, then we'll see what happens from there and see how the points add up.
Q. This is not now having gone through this in 2004 and 2006, how does this compare with those experiences leading into the race?
KASEY KAHNE: Actually I like this just a little bit different. I feel like we always have that goal to make the Chase, and everybody wants to be a big part of going to New York and making the Chase and being a part of that. Then it was somewhere that I thought that I think at times, those years, we were one of best cars or we were the best car.
This year I think we have been more right there on the edge. We are one of those teams that have been strong enough to be sixth in points, if things go our way and we don't have any bad luck; but not sixth, because we have been super, super fast. I just think we are more of a 7th to 15th place car this year. When consistency and all that stuff happens and we're right there.
So it's a little bit different. I wouldn't say we are one of the best cars in the series, and at times those years, I think we were. We had some really good races and really good cars. It always feels a bit different this year just to make the Chase, and kind of see where we end up.
Q. Talking about 2006 when you raced your way in, what did you learn from that experience that you can apply to Saturday night?
KASEY KAHNE: Really just being there, doing everything we could. We led laps that night and we were one of the better cars throughout the entire night, and that's the only way you're going to make the Chase is to be up front and be strong and have a shot at winning. I think that will be the only chance that we have at making the Chase is if we are one of the top three or four cars.
That's all I learned was really just run your race, do everything you can possible, and the team is doing a great job. They did awesome last week at California, and if we do everything we can, you know, hopefully it ends up that we can make the Chase.
Q. We saw you get on a hot streak there in May with the All-Star Race, the 600 and then Pocono. There are a lot of tracks that favor you and that you've won on before; if you make it in, do you think you can get on another one of those streaks?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, like I said, we are not a -- we are not a team to contend for a championship, but we are definitely a team to contend from maybe right at fifth, right in that area, fifth to tenth just from consistency and being there every single weekend and if things go the way they are supposed to, and we have good luck.
I feel like we can definitely move up a lot in the points if we do make the Chase because we have been there all year. As far as going out and winning, we'd have to make some pretty big gains in the next couple weeks to do that.
Q. If you don't make the Chase and we don't have a Dodge in the Chase, I know you're only one driver, but is the situation any -- at all sort of indicative that there's a problem with Dodge insofar as keeping up with the other manufacturers?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, you can look at it, and I look at it and not real sure exactly why that is, but I know it's been like that since 2004.
So there's something going on there, and I just really think that that we are down a little bit, whether it's power or the car or whatever it may be, that's kind of how we are as a manufacturer and kind of how it's been for the last five years. Hopefully we can keep working on that and making it better and winning a lot of races for Dodge as the time goes on.
Q. Thanks for taking the time today and good luck this weekend as well. Pretty much everybody that's involved in the Chase to this point or has an opportunity to be involved in the Chase, it's a multi-car team and their teammates are also part of their Chase and right there. Does the fact that Elliot Sadler is really not in a position to be part of the Chase, has that affected you team-wise, and would it be better to have a teammate that's in a similar situation to share some information with?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know, I think the way that the way it is now, myself and Elliot have been pretty consistent and fast for the last month or so. I think Elliot's team really came a long ways and they are about where we are, I feel like 8th to 15th.
It's good. We have some things that we can draw off each other and we can learn from each other. They can try and we can try during practice and kind of see where things go. I feel like we have a good teammate relationship right now and that can definitely help us a little bit on Saturday night.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks to Kasey Kahne. Appreciate you taking some time to answer questions for us today, and as it was just said, best of luck this weekend Kasey.
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