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Aug 01, 2014 - 05:54 PM
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2014 Pocono II Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Kasey Kahne
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 01, 2014 - 05:47 PM
2014 Pocono II Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Kasey Kahne

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media and discussed the first practice session, his overall outlook on his chances to secure a victory this weekend at Pocono and many other topics.

TALK ABOUT COMING HERE TO POCONO A PLACE YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS: "I feel really good about coming back here the second time around. We had a lot of speed last week at Indianapolis. That is a good feeling, a similar track in certain ways, but a lot different in others. Just trying to keep up with that. Practice was pretty good there. We made some gains. I didn’t get a real good lap in qualifying practice, but we were on both sides of it. Hopefully, we will have a good shot when it’s time later. I feel good about this weekend. Looking forward to it. We definitely need a little more practice still, but feel good about our chance on Sunday."

WHAT HAS RUNNING SIXTH LAST WEEKEND AT INDY DONE FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL THIS WEEKEND AND ALSO FOR YOU TEAM? "I think it was good for me to lead laps. We hadn’t done a whole lot of that this season. To lead a lot of laps at Indianapolis and run up front throughout the whole race was good for my confidence. What I liked the most about the entire weekend was the team stepped up. It was the first time of the season we have put a full race together. From me driving to them on pit road to pit calls, everything about it was right. That is something that we haven’t done this year. We haven’t even come close to doing that. It was a big weekend for all of us and we got some momentum out of it, some confidence I think on all of our parts. Hopefully, we can carry that into this weekend and especially Sunday."


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HOW WAS THE TEAM DURING PRACTICE TODAY? "Well everybody was good. They worked really hard this week getting this car turned around. It was the car we ran last week. We thought it was a good plan. It was brand new so bringing it to another flatter track and see if it will have the speed here again Sunday like it did last week. So far it’s been good. But the guys were all in a good spot, good place today. They will be again tomorrow. The big thing will be Sunday and putting the pit stops together and the adjustments, the communication all of that. That is where we have struggled. We really haven’t struggled as far as a team on Friday and Saturday. We haven’t had speed a lot, but we have been pretty good as far as the team goes. It’s just Sunday’s we need to put that all together again. If we keep doing that we will be in a good place."

EVERY RACE IS IMPORTANT BUT HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL THIS RACE IS SUNDAY TO GET A WIN TO GET SECURED INTO THIS YEAR’S CHASE AND GET IT OUT OF THE WAY NOW? IF IT DOESN’T HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN THE TEAM THESE NEXT SIX WEEKS? "I would have liked to get it out of the way last week. So I mean the sooner the better. But having fast cars and the team working well that has a lot more to do with it because if we do make the Chase we need to carry that into the final 10 races. So we are building there and things are getting better kind of on all fronts. I’m really happy about that. Yeah, last year we won the GoBowling.com 400 so we are coming back into that same race. Hopefully, we can do it again and if we were able to do that we would be in a great place. Things would be picking up late in the season. As far as the rest of the races, Watkins Glen over the years I would say that is probably my toughest track as far as average finish. Not counting wrecks or any bad luck or that stuff, just straight-up average finish I think Watkins Glen is one of my tougher tracks. It’s going to be a place that we need to work really hard on to perform next week. After that Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond, I don’t know if there is another one, but all those tracks we have won at and ran really well at. I look forward to each one of those and feel like we can definitely still make the Chase if we don’t do it this weekend."

YOU WORKED WITH RAY EVERNHAM WHEN YOU CAME INTO THE SPORT. YOU KNOW HIM PRETTY WELL. NOW THAT HE IS OVER AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS MORE IN A HANDS ON ROLE WITH THE 5 AND 24 SHOP WHAT IF ANYTHING HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT HE HAS BROUGHT TO THE COMPANY? "The thing about Ray he has done a lot for me. He is the one that gave me my opportunity in the Sprint Cup Series. He helped me a lot in those years. To have Mr. Hendrick kind of put him on our car because we were struggling we were the slow team over there early in the year. He has definitely been a big help. I really like working with Ray because he holds you to your part. He makes you step up. He makes you know. He talks to you about the things he did right and the things you didn’t do right. You are accountable for that when he’s around. It’s nice to have someone like that. He gives me confidence. Every time he’s at the race track we run better. When he’s with my team, with Kenny Francis (crew chief), with myself and I think that is just because he’s been really good to me in the past, yet he’s been tough on me at times too. There haven’t been too many people that have really held me accountable over the years. And said ‘hey look at this you need to fix this; you need to get better here.’ Ray has and I think he might be the only guy that has. And I like that so it’s nice to have him around."

FOR THE AVERAGE NASCAR FAN HOW IMPORTANT IS THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS TO NOT JUST SPRINT CAR RACING BUT MOTORSPORTS? WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO GET TO VICTORY LANE WITH ONE OF YOUR KKR TEAMS? "It’s a huge week for us with our sprint car teams and our World of Outlaw teams. I am going to go straight from here Sunday afternoon to Knoxville. They run Sunday night there kind of the final race before the Nationals start on Wednesday. Just be there and help motivate and show the guys I’m behind them. They have raced all season so they are prepared. They are ready to go. Brad Sweet won the last race at Knoxville. Daryn (Pittman) was really strong as well. I look forward to it.

"It’s a huge event for sprint car racing. It’s a tough race to win. We have run second I think three or four times, but never won the race. I look forward to those guys racing hard and the team is doing everything they can to put themselves in position and hopefully pulling one off this year. If not then we will go again next year. Hopefully they can pull one off eventually and win a Nationals for us. It would be pretty awesome."

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT WATKINS GLEN IS PROBABLY YOUR WORST TRACK IS YOUR BEST TRACK BEHIND YOU THIS YEAR OR ARE WE GOING TO YOUR BEST TRACK AT SOME POINT SOON? "It’s tough to say. I like Watkins Glen a lot. I actually really like racing there. It’s been difficult for me so I enjoy that. I enjoy trying to figure that out and there are times in that race where we are pretty fast. We figured Sonoma out the last six or seven times we have been there we have been really good. I think that Sonoma is one of my best race tracks. I feel like in time we will hit on it and it will click. It’s definitely not my best track so we’ve got to keep working on that. I like Bristol a lot I feel like we run really well there especially in a longer race. Longer race runs and the night show seems like a pretty good track for me. Atlanta we are up and down there, but I enjoy it. Richmond is tough to say and Michigan is strong. Our cars and engines and the balance I felt like we were the best car the first race at Michigan the last 30 laps, just not the first however many. We’ve got to work on that. But I don’t know if these tracks are my best tracks, but they are definitely all pretty good for us and we can make good points and hopefully get a win in a couple of them or one of them. Any of that would be great."

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOURSELF PUSH HARDER? WHAT SORTS OF INFORMATION DOES THE TEAM GIVE YOU SO YOU KNOW WHAT AREAS YOU CAN IMPROVE ON LIKE WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT WITH RAY EVERNHAM EARLIER? "The thing about the data and stuff that we can read now on the cars is great for at track testing all that is right there in front of you pretty quickly. I can see what Jimmie (Johnson) doing what Jeff (Gordon) is doing with their feet and their hands. I mean I like that, but that is up to me to change my own driving style or it also creates a different balance of the car and how it’s going to handle. It’s nice to be able to look at all those things, but it’s hard just to change. We have all driven a certain way for a certain amount of time and it works at times when everything aligns. The spot where Ray is big in my opinion is just looking at things you can do better as far as communication goes. As far as working together being more prepared when you go into a race weekend whether it is looking at old notes, looking at what other people did, what we have done in the past, what works a couple of years ago and not this time. You look at that again, so there is a lot there. There is a lot of information there that you can go and find if you want to spend the time and do that. That is where I think Ray really helps me is be a little more prepared when we get into the weekend and then just having a better attitude. It’s not just me it’s Kenny (Francis, crew chief) it’s all the guys. Ray has been on our car. He was with us at Indy all week and it went really well."

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS WON FOUR IN A ROW AT POCONO IS THAT COINCIDENCE OR DO YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT IT FIGURED OUT? "I would say kind of coincidence. I think our cars are really good here, but yeah I guess last year it was between me and Jeff (Gordon). This year it was between Brad (Keselowski) and Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.). I don’t know I think Hendrick probably does have this track figured out it sounds like."

WHEN YOU COME TO A PLACE LIKE THIS FOR THIS RACE AND YOU WON HERE LAST YEAR DO YOU LOOK BACK AT THAT RACE? DO YOU WATCH IT AGAIN? DO YOU TRY TO TAKE ANY OF THAT INTO THIS WEEKEND? "I look back at some of that and you also to me you can look at the first race as well and kind of compare the changes. The differences between the two races and then we know what happened this year at this race. Maybe that will give us a little insight on what will go on Sunday comparing the years together and how the track changes and things throughout each season. I tend to look a little more at this year with this car because of some of the new rules. Some of the changes with the car and how it drives a little bit differently. We have looked a lot more at the race in June over anything else."

HOW DO YOU VIEW THE GAP BETWEEN WHERE YOU GUYS ARE NOW IN TRYING TO GET IN THE CHASE TO WANTING TO BE A CONTENDER? "It’s kind of tough to really view it because you just don’t know. You want to look at the team; you want to look at what you are doing and how you are preparing. The guys have worked really hard all season long. I’ve been right there with them at times watching them. Then just last week we finally put together a full race. Why did that happen? Where did that come from? It’s not like we picked up speed in any of those areas. It was just like we all did our job the entire race, the entire day and communicated and had great attitudes and focus. I think focus is a big part of it. I feel like a team at this level of racing we could go all the way until Richmond. You make it into the Chase at Richmond and hit on your stride and the teams that are built right now could make a run. We could have the season we have had and make it at Richmond and then make a run for the championship. That is just my opinion, but that is the way that I look at things. I think all the teams are so good and the drivers and the communication. The opportunity to look at all of our teammates and work with our teammates I just think it is right there. It could change at any time and you could really get on a roll and be as good as anyone in the sport."

YOU MENTIONED RICHMOND IS THAT THE PLACE WHERE THE GLOVES COME OFF? OR IF YOU NEED A WIN WOULD BRISTOL BE THE PLACE OR ATLANTA OR DO YOU WAIT UNTIL RICHMOND? "Well I think it seems like people talk about that each year and it’s kind of Richmond or whatever. But when it comes down to it there are only a few guys that are really going to have a shot to make the Chase at that race. It’s not like the whole field is. There is going to be one guy who can win and there will be a couple of guys on points. So I mean you are just not going to go out and crash that guy because you want the spot. I don’t see how it changes a lot. I think we race the same this weekend as we do in Richmond in a month and a half. I don’t think it’s going to really change. I haven’t seen it change much in the past. I’ve seen some weird stuff go on at Richmond. We have all seen that. I don’t think you are going to see guys just crash each other because it’s Richmond they think it can put them into the Chase because it really won’t in my opinion."

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