NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400
Topics: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400
June 13, 2010
KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our post race press conference here at Michigan International Speedway. Our race runner-up is Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford.
Kasey, a solid run out there for the No. 9.
KASEY KAHNE: It was. Our whole Budweiser team did a really nice job. We showed up with a new Ford engine, night-and-day difference than what I had last week at Pocono. I was definitely happy with the Roush-Yates Ford engine that they brought for our first time to race. It was a nice improvement. So that was good for all the Ford teams. I think they'll all run better now.
I felt like our team did a good job. We didn't lose 10 spots in the pits, I didn't make mistakes. Good feedback. The adjustments on the car were good. You know, we didn't break any parts. The car stayed together. We just kind of had a lot of downs this year, and it was nice to put a full race together and actually feel like a Cup team, Cup driver.
It was a good run for us, something to build on. I think we have a strong team and we showed that in the past. We just need to keep building on it.
I don't think we're out of the Chase yet, but we're right on the edge. If we can throw together a few top 10s, top fives, it will be tough, but we still have a shot.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Kasey Kahne.
Q. Kasey, you made no mistakes today. Your car was fast as it's been all year. Yet the 11 was in its own class. You have to be happy about what you did, what your team did, but is it still frustrating to know that nobody else was close to the 11?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, they've been like that here for a couple months, two and a half months or so. I wasn't surprised they were really strong. We made a huge gain. We were way better than we've been in a short period of time this week.
I wasn't surprised. I didn't like watching him drive away from me, but I wasn't surprised when he did. I thought we had a really good car, really good effort by our whole team. The 11 was just a touch better.
Q. Kasey, it looked like on the last stop for you and Matt, the steam was pouring out there. Were you concerned there? Are you happy that it showed the engine can take that kind of heat and still keep going? Is that maybe an improvement you wouldn't have had with the other one?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't think it's improvement. The other one could handle heat also. But it was nice to see that this one could handle heat.
When you run all over the racetrack, I ran from the white line right up beside the wall. On a big track like this, California is is the same way, it's easy to pick up debris, covered the grill a couple times. Get to 280, it's going to get real hot when you pull to a stop. It cooled right back off and the engine felt strong the whole race. It didn't feel like it affected it in any way.
Q. Kasey, you talked about the night-and-day difference. What in your mind was the biggest difference that you could feel from last week to this week? Was your success even all the more sweeter because in your class it was not an isolated case? You had five guys in the top 12.
KASEY KAHNE: Five Fords? See, I didn't know that. That's good. That's what I feel. Four or five of the guys had this at Pocono last week and I didn't have it. Last week at Pocono, I couldn't draft. I could get a run off the corner, feel like I was catching the guy. As soon as I got to the straightaway, RCR, Hendrick, Toyota, Gibbs, they would pull back away from me down the straightaway. That shouldn't happen when you're behind them. You should get the draft and suck up.
That showed me we were at a big disadvantage as a driver. I complained about it some. They've been working hard on this engine. This week I could suck up. Even if I didn't get a big run off the corner, I was still in the draft and I could still suck up to the car in front of me which is how it's supposed to work. It felt good to be on a level playing field, just have to work on the car and work on other things that matter to try to win the race.
But I didn't feel like we were at a disadvantage with the engine. I can go back to my Dodge years. Last year was one of the worst years our engines ran being at Richard Petty Motorsports. Same situation. Felt really good in practice. When I sucked up to Kyle Busch on Friday, Man, we actually have something to work with today. It was a good feeling.
Q. Kasey, the last debris caution, did you see the debris? Did you think you had a chance at Hamlin or did you know it was going to be difficult because he was so strong?
KASEY KAHNE: It was a big piece of debris back there. I saw it. I felt good at the time. I thought we may have a shot. We ran 39.70 our first lap after we had tires. Only had two laps on them. We definitely made gains. Tightened the car up a little bit. I thought we made gains. Maybe I could hang with him.
I hung with him for about three laps running in his kind of dirty air, was right there. Then he just slowly creeped away. It felt good. I mean, we were close. That's a huge improvement. I was pretty happy.
Darlington, Dover, Charlotte wasn't real good, but Darlington, Dover, Pocono, top-five cars. Just errors. Didn't finish. So it was nice to put the whole thing together.
Q. Kasey, you mentioned being able to suck up more this week than you could at Pocono. Could you put a number horsepower-wise, if there's any appreciable difference with the FR9 engine? Do you feel conflicted at all leading the Ford parade knowing you'll drive a Chevrolet in 2012?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know numbers. I didn't ask. They didn't tell me. If you can feel it as a driver, when you're talking 800 some horsepower on a two-mile racetrack, if you can feel it when you touch it, also down the straightaway at top ends as well, it's good got to be a decent number. They definitely made improvements. It could handle heat. Supposedly it's lower weight, which is good for these cars. They're so big and top-heavy. I think Ford has made a really nice improvement.
I was happy to be the best Ford today. Hopefully we can keep after it and be solid the rest of the year.
Q. Do you have any frustration trying to maintain focus on this season, but then also trying to figure out what your future holds for next season?
KASEY KAHNE: Not too much on this year. I mean, all I really like to do is race. I don't really care about a whole lot of other things right now in my life. It's just nice to focus on racing.
When you're having bad weeks and things happening, it gets frustrating. Yeah, you look ahead, Man, I can't wait. You think about that at times. At the same time I made a commitment to Ray Evernham, George Gillett, Richard Petty. I'm going to stick to it. Whether somebody doesn't like me there or a lot of people, whatever it may, I'm going to stick to my commitment. I've worked hard there for six and a half years. I'm going to finish strong there.
Rick Hendrick is working on the rest. It's nice to have someone like that working on the next five years of my career.
Q. A strong run today, then going to a place next week where you surprised a lot of people, perhaps even yourself with a win last season. Your thoughts going back to Sonoma?
KASEY KAHNE: That was definitely a surprise last year. We felt really strong the whole race, practice day and evening. Hopefully we can unload similar this year. Be a little different with the Ford engine, how it runs, things like that. But I look forward to it. I always liked Sonoma. I liked it when I didn't run well there. I enjoyed learning that type of racing. Hopefully we can put another top 10 together.
That's a tough track. There's a lot that goes on there that that you don't have control of and a lot that you do have control of. Hopefully we can have some luck and have a solid race.
Q. On a lighter note, that, 'gentlemen start your engines' command today, was that the best you heard?
KASEY KAHNE: I couldn't hear very well. I could hear a lot of noise. I just thought it looked like Kevin was dancing and Adam may have been singing, I don't know. I had lunch with the guys prior to the race. We had Grown Ups on our Budweiser Ford. Went and watched a screening of it last night. It's a great show. Hilarious. I think a lot of people are going to like it when it comes out June 25th. Those guys put on a show. They're definitely good guys to have around and fun guys to have at the racetrack.
KERRY THARP: Kasey, thank you so much. Good run today. Good luck next week at Infineon.
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