Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, met with media and discussed tire wear, vision training how to beat his teammate, and more.
THE MODERATOR: You have an exciting opportunity this weekend for a fan to win a Corvette, talk a little bit about that and coming back to Atlanta.
KASEY KAHNE: I really enjoy racing Atlanta. I enjoy coming here. To have the Hendrickcars.com, you go there and pick my lap time halfway through the race on Sunday, you can win a Corvette. It’s something neat Rick Hendrick did. A lot of people have signed up for it. It’s going to be tough to pick because this place, the lap times change so much as you go. But we’ll see how it ends up. I sure hope someone wins it for sure.
Looking forward to the race. We had a pretty good first practice. Felt like we were pretty good close. Try to qualify up front tonight and get ready for Sunday’s race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questioning.
Q. Kasey, how much as a driver can you affect tire wear here? With so much fall-off, is there anything you can do to really manage your tires to make them last longer into the run or run more effectively?
KASEY KAHNE: You know, when I first came around, ’04, ’05, I felt like you could save a little bit early, not go so hard the first five laps, it would help as the runs would go.
The last few years here, to me, you go as hard as you can every lap. You always are trying to save your right rear from getting it hot. Giving up lap time early doesn’t really give you any more later. I think that’s changed a little bit with our tires. Maybe the car as well.
But it’s still really similar. It still tears up the tires. You’re going to slow down a lot on a long run here. I’ve always really liked that. I like to be able to look around, start the bottom, the top, the middle, you can just look for that spot that your car feels the best and carry the momentum.
Q. Just wondering how you feel, you’re close to making it into the Chase. All your teammates said they would do whatever they could to help you.
KASEY KAHNE: I feel really good about where we’re at. We’ve had really solid racecars for a long time now. The speed’s there each week, just kind of how we do things in practice, how we do things preparing the car, it’s been taking off great the last couple weeks.
I think we’re in a nice position if we keep doing the same things we’re doing. Atlanta is a great racetrack for us. So is Richmond next week. I really feel like we have a shot at making the top 10 still. Awhile ago we were way too far behind, but we’ve caught up pretty well. Depending on how Tony does and Harvick, how we do obviously, I think we definitely have a shot at that.
Q. For the rest of the season, is there anything in the pipeline to improve the car engine-wise or step or aero package that you have maybe a little bit more advantage over your rivals?
KASEY KAHNE: I feel like Hendrick Motorsports is always working on that. We’re always trying to make those gains everywhere. You know, right now we have a great balance with our cars. Our aero package is really nice. The engines run great.
So I feel like we’re in a great spot. But they’re always trying to get a little bit more here, a little bit more there. It’s nice to be part of a company like that, a lot of people that are just dedicated to finding more speed in the racecars no matter what it is, where it’s at. It feels good to be part of that. I know we’ll keep gaining on that.
We have really good speed right now. All four of the Hendrick cars are pretty solid.
Q. You’re on the inside now over at Hendrick. You have a chance to look at Jimmie Johnson, probably one of the favorites to win the championship. You’re one of the few guys that can strike and win two, three or four races in the Chase. How do you beat Jimmie Johnson in the Chase? Where do you do what?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, a big part of it to me is the consistency. I feel like in prior Chases for myself, not even in the Chase, in those final 10, if you make one mistake, you give up 30 points in one race, you’re not going to win that championship. It’s going to make it a lot more difficult.
So the consistency is the first thing for me. Then second thing is just running up front, having those opportunities to win, get those bonus points. Like you said, if you don’t win, you’re not going to win the Chase these days. The guys that are winning are the guys that are top 10 in points. You’re not going to beat them if you’re not winning races.
If we can be consistent, keep as a team getting a little bit better each week, trying to knock off a win or two, I really feel like we can be in the mix. I think Jimmie is the favorite again, like always. He’s really tough. Those guys seem to hit their prime about this time of the year.
Q. Do you do something with vision training?
KASEY KAHNE: We have this thing called the dyna vision. A lot of times when we’re working really hard and worn out, we’ll get on there. It’s just hand-eye coordination is all it is, just to try to stay sharp on some of that stuff.
It’s pretty neat because you can change it all up. The way you hit the buttons, when they pop, really it’s just hand-eye coordination. I like doing it when I’m pretty worn down because that’s when it’s the most difficult time to make it work.
Q. Is it like the thing at the fair?
KASEY KAHNE: It’s similar, other than you don’t have a hammer in your hands. You touch it with the tips of your fingers as fast as you can. They light up, so you tap that one, all over. Kind of hand-eye, which doesn’t hurt. I don’t know how much it helps, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to prepare and do that type of stuff once in a while.
Q. I wanted to ask about going up high at Bristol. I know your teammate Jimmie said it was a key move, Jeff said he’d like to see Dover done like that. Can you describe what that was like? Would that work anywhere else?
KASEY KAHNE: I don’t know how it would work at Dover. It’s tough to say. The reason it worked at Bristol is because we run high there. We run there and we slowly put rubber onto a smoother surface. They cut it so smooth. Like I walked it before the race when I first got there on Friday. They made it so smooth, when you touched it, it was slippery. As the tires got hot, you put that rubber on it, it was smoother so you didn’t lose that tire patch. You’re racing on a smoother line with grip from the tire.
Would it work at Dover? It could in certain spots. But we don’t run quite as high there. Bristol, you just want to run through the middle to the top there more times than not because you can carry more momentum.
It could work other places, it would be something interesting to try and see. I remember Dover, you could run high there, it was pretty exciting. I liked it like that.