Posted Apr 28, 2006, 07:47 AM by Editor @ TheFirehouse.biz.
Category: Motor Sports
The Dodge Charger is fast becoming a force on the NASCAR NEXTEL
Cup circuit, so it’s a perfect time to stir up some up heat over
its success here on TheFirehouse.biz.
Dodge has won three of the last four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races
beginning with Kasey Kahne at Atlanta, Kurt Busch at Bristol and
Kahne again at Texas earlier this month. Dodge and Chevy are tied
with three wins each in the first seven races, and Chevy holds a
47-45 advantage Dodge in the season-long manufacturers. Kahne and
Busch won the two most recent races at Richmond International
Raceway. Kahne scored his first career victory in last year’s
spring race at RIR while Busch won race No. 26 last year at the
D-shaped .750-mile track. Kahne ranks third in the series
standings 51 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Kahne was 23rd in
the standings at the same stage of the 2005 campaign.
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
“We’re trying to get ready to come back. This is
always a great race for the fans and the drivers enjoy it, too.
It’s a lot of fun. The track gets to where you can race pretty
hard. We’re just trying to get our car as good as we can.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO ALREADY BE LOCKED IN THE CHASE BEFORE THE 26TH RACE AT RICHMOND? “
I think it would be great if we could be in that spot
where we didn’t have to worry about this race, but if it is a race
we need to worry about to get in that top 10, it is a good track
for us. It’s nice to be able to test here. It’ll help us for the
first race and the second race. Right now we’ve been running good.
We’ve had some great runs this season, and we’re doing a good job
in the points, too. We just need to keep that up and hopefully we
won’t have to worry so much about the second race here like we have
in the past and just trying to get into that final 10.
” IS THE 26TH RACE ONE OF THE KEY RACES OF THE SEASON? “
I think it’s a race
that’s good. It depends on where you are. The Daytona 500 and
Brickyard are such big races. I remember in 2004 we had a shot at
making the final 10. I think we went into the (Richmond) race 11th
and could have easily made the top 10 if we had run better. We
finished 26th and didn’t make it. Jamie McMurray was right there.
Mayfield ended up making it. It was close. That brings a lot of
attention, and it makes for a fun race. Everybody gets pretty
nervous at that point in time. It’s that time of the year, and
hopefully we can prepare and get in that final 10.
“IS PATIENCE THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS THIS SEASON? “
So far I’ve been able to do that.
I’ve had much better racecars. Our Dodge Chargers have been
handling a lot better. It takes a lot of work to get the Charger to
where it needs to be in order to run with the other manufacturers
each week and the top teams. I think Evernham Motorsports has done
the best job of all with the Chargers so far. Those guys have
really worked hard. Scott Riggs was just as fast as I was at times
last week at Texas. Jeremy is right there, too. They’ve just been
having some deals there they’ve got to work out with the team and
getting everybody on the same page. Once they do that, I think
Evernham Motorsports is going to be just as good as any other team,
that’s what I’m hoping anyway. “Last year when you’re running 20th,
you want to get up front. You want to get in the top 15. You want
to get points, and your car is capable of running 20th. Sometimes I
was going overboard and not getting the results we needed. At the
same time, it’s tough when you’re that far back. You want to do
anything you can to get another position and not finish out of the
top 20. This year our cars have been great. Our practices have been
better. We’ve been running toward the front. You don’t have to
force it. You don’t have to push the issue. We had some close calls
at Texas. It’s just give and take at times and get ’em later on.
Wait for three laps and then pass the car. I’m doing a better job,
and I’m also getting equipment that’s faster, so it’s easier to do
when you’re in that position.
” CAN YOU APPLY WHAT YOU LEARN HERE TODAY TO THE NIGHT RACE? “
I think it’ll be pretty close. The track
to me felt really similar to how it felt two weeks ago in the Busch
car. We’ll have some practice at night, too. Most of the time at
night, the track tightens up a little bit, so if you can have your
car a little bit free as long as it’s turning good it’s just as
good at night, maybe better. The good thing about this test as long
as it is, we’ll get to see what the car does at night. I imagine
it’ll be the same as it’s been the past two or three years.
” CAN YOU TRANSFER WHAT YOU LEARN HERE TO OTHER TRACKS? “
It’s tough to take much from here to the other ones. We won here last year and at
Phoenix we were terrible. I don’t even know if we made it in the
top 20 there and finish the race. Those would be the two I would
think would compare the most for size and speed. It didn’t work. I
guess some tracks are their own track and you have to figure out
how to get around each track differently.
” DID YOU FIND SOMETHING WITH THE CHARGER? “
I really don’t know how to answer that.
I think we found something. I think our bodies are better. I
think there are some things that are better. I don’t think what we
found made the difference that it’s made so far this season. I
think that’s been more of the team I’m working with. I think the
information Evernham Motorsports is getting is getting better from
the three teams working together. Myself and Scott Riggs have been
running similar setups, and they’re fast. I think it just has a lot
to do with the setups, and it just took us awhile to figure out
what setup would work best for me.
” HAVE YOU GONE FROM A GUY WHO CAN WIN TO A GUY WHO CAN WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? “
I don’t know about
that. I certainly hope so. That’s what we shoot for. That’s why we
do this, to win races and ultimately win a championship. I think
I’m getting that experience and would hope some day I’m in position
to do that. Right now I feel like winning races would be great and
just keep the points rolling. If we can do that and get in these
final 10 races you never know what will happen. I’d be pretty
excited if we get in because I think we can run good on a lot of
those (final 10) racetracks.
” YOU WON BOTH RACES THIS SEASON IN THE SAME CHARGER. YOU ALSO WON THE POLE FOR THOSE TWO RACES. IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT THAT CAR? “
It felt good at Atlanta and
Texas. It’s two for two (poles) and two for two (race wins). It was
brand new at Atlanta, and everything has been perfect with the car
the way it handles. Everything has been great. Our Vegas car was
good, too. We finished fourth there. We were kind of on the verge
of running a little better than that. The only car that I thought
wasn’t as good is the California car. We haven’t run that one
since, but the Vegas car and the Atlanta and Texas car are similar.
I’m hoping we can run it (winning Charger) at the All-Star Race or
the 600 or maybe both if it can make it through.
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
I heard this morning that we’re going to be here until 9 o’clock
tonight, so I wish I had got more sleep last night. It’s great to
have a chance to practice under the lights, especially when both of
our races are here at night. It’s been a great season so far for us
with communication with the new team. We’re running well on the
speedways and the short tracks. We know we’ve got some work to do
on the mile and a half intermediate tracks. It’s a good thing and a
bad thing that we’re testing here today at Richmond. It’s good we
can polish up with my new team and get our short track program a
little better. It’s bad because all the other teams get time to
test at this racetrack where I felt I had a little bit of an
advantage. Everybody is going to catch up after this time around.
Good start so far, but we’re not quite where we want to be in
points, so we’ll keep working at it.
” COMMENT ON 17TH RANKING IN STANDINGS AFTER EIGHT RACES “
If we have a couple of good races
in a row, that will put us right back in position to be steadily
right there and ready for the top 10. There’s a long way to go.
Once you get to June 1 and start running into the summer months of
Dover and Pocono and Michigan, that’s when we’ll worry about where
we are in the points. We still have plenty of time to go until that.
” HAVE YOU TALKED TO GREG BIFFLE ABOUT THE TEXAS SITUATION? “
I tried to reach out for him and left a message on his phone. I’m
sure I’ll see him this afternoon. Biffle and I are both very
competitive racers, and we both look for the same real estate at
the same time, yet I was trying to yield as a lapped car out on the
track. Things like that happen and we’ll definitely try to smooth
everything out and move on to the next race.
” WHAT IS ONE OF THE UNWRITTEN RULES ON THE TRACK? “
I would say there are probably 100
different unwritten rules as far as driver etiquette and to giving
somebody a break or to go into your pit stall deep so as not to
block somebody in when he’s trying to get out whether he’s on the
lead lap and you’re running for 30th place and you’ve got a pit box
in front of him. There are things you do out on the track when
you’ve got a faster car and you come up on somebody some of the
times they yield out of the way or some of the time they race you
for that position. It depends on what mood you’re in or if you’ve
made The Chase or if it’s race seven or race 26 or if it’s the last
few laps at Homestead like Jimmie, Jeff and I had in 2004. It was
” HAS THE LAST THREE WEEKS BEEN MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF YOUR PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH KENSETH AND BIFFLE? “
It has and it hasn’t. I can’t say that racing has changed my outlook
because I’m racing with a different team. I still try to race any
competitor as if they’re the same guy whether they’re new on the
circuit or old on the circuit. Racing for the win at Bristol is
something that’s very special when it’s the last 10 laps. If you’re
a lap down car trying to get out of the way of the fast leader at
Texas, no matter who it is, an accident happened and I feel bad
about it. As for old teammates, we definitely had great times
together. Biffle and I grew up running trucks together. When I
moved into Cup he shortly followed. It’s a great relationship and
not just one race will tear it apart.
” WHY TEST AT RICHMOND? “
I think the vision NASCAR has is to make the 26th race more
competitive. That’s why we’re here testing at Richmond. That’s the
cutoff for The Chase. They want to make it an equal opportunity for
everybody when it comes down to the wire whether you’re in or out.
There are no excuses. You had a full two-day test to get ready for
it. Some teams needed to test and some don’t need a test at a short
track. I’d much rather be at Texas today, trying to figure out what
we did wrong with our car because right now we’re behind on the
mile and a half tracks. It’s fun to test at night because we race