Kasey Kahne, driver of the # 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet met with media and discussed the momentum of Hendrick Motorsports, the challenge of Dover, upcoming tests at Pocono and Michigan, and more.
TALK ABOUT THE RECENT DOMINANCE OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, AND WHAT THIS WEEK HAS MEANT TO YOU COMING IN TO DOVER THIS WEEKEND “It’s been really good. It was great to get that win (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte last weekend) and put together a full race like we did. It’s awesome to be part of Hendrick Motorsports. I felt like all four cars have been really strong from the start of the year; and once Jimmie (Johnson) broke through at Darlington and won that race, we’ve been able to go on a little roll. So I think our cars are great. The teams are working really well together and I’ve enjoyed being part of that. Hopefully Dover will be good for us too. I felt like we got pretty good at the end of first practice and we have another hour and a half to work more.”
DOES CONFIDENCE PLAYS INTO THAT AS WELL IN MINDSET? WITH THE ORGANIZATION WINNING THREE IN A ROW, DO YOU BRING A DIFFERENT MINDSET TO DOVER? “I think you come here and you know that we’re definitely capable. But I’ve actually felt like that all season long. I’ve felt like I had really fast cars from the drop of the greens at Daytona and Phoenix and all the tracks. So, I think just the way the teams have put together the solid finishes in the last three weeks has been good. And that gives you some extra confidence and momentum for sure.”
THIS SEEMS TO BE A TRACK WHERE YOU EITHER GET IT OR YOU DON’T. WHY IS THAT? “I think it’s tough. The concrete is part of it and then just the high speeds; and there’s some roughness to the track, as well. The entries are really tricky and then keeping your car to rotate in the center and you get down on the white line again on the second apex to the corners and in order to get your car to do all that stuff, you just have to figure out how to do it and realize how to do it as a driver and the guys you’re working with. So, to me it’s just a tricky track. The corners look really similar but it’s as difficult as any track we go to, to get the whole track right and to get that balance throughout a whole 400-lapper here.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE DRIVING FOR A TEAM IN WHICH ALL THE MOMENTUM IS SQUARELY ON THE SIDE OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. YOU ALL HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN EVERY SINGLE WEEK. “I think it’s a great place. They’ve put a lot into it. Mr. Hendrick gives us everything we need. And just with everything Hendrick Motorsports has and then with what (crew chief) Kenny Francis and my engineer have brought to the table as well. We’ve been through three different organizations basically in the last three years. So there’s a lot of information that those guys have brought along. We’re all kind of running similar set-ups and our cars feel similar and we’re thinking and talking about the same stuff. So, I think it’s just a lot of good people working together. I’ve been able to work with my teammates really well. We’ve been on the same page. That doesn’t always happen and right now it’s been happening that way.”
WITH ALL THE EXTRA PRACTICE TIME COMING UP AT POCONO AND MICHIGAN, HOW DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM PLAN TO KEEP THINGS IN BALANCE? HOW DO YOU KEEP THINGS IN CHECK DO YOUR GUYS DON’T GET BURNED OUT OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS? “I don’t know. I think Pocono; it feels like we’re going to be there a full week, which three days is usually pretty long at Pocono. So I guess we just try to be smart about it and run as much as we need to, but not more than we need to. We’ve already done the tire test there. So for the No. 5 guys, it’s going to be a long week there. And then Michigan, it’s going to be nice to get some extra laps. It’s always nice to be able to test because we don’t get to test a lot with these cars. But Wednesday through Sunday is a long time Pocono. I think Michigan will be great to have that extra day and just be able to try to figure a few extra things out.”
YOU HAD A PRETTY GOOD YEAR WHEN YOU WON 8 RACES AND FINISHED 8TH IN POINTS, BUT DO YOU FEEL THIS YEAR IS YOUR BEST CHANCE AT CONTENDING FOR A TITLE? IS THERE ANY PRESSURE KNOWING YOU’RE WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? “Yeah, you just look at where I’ve been and where I’m at now and the opportunities that I have and what Hendrick Motorsports has done over the last six or seven years; well, you can look a lot further than that. But, yeah, to be where I’m at now is definitely the best opportunity to win races and compete for a championship and do all that stuff. It’s something that I’ve always looked forward to hopefully having that type of an opportunity and I have it now. So we’ll just try to take advantage of it and do the best that we can. But yeah, you can’t ask for much more in this series than where I’m at and the guys I get to work with right now.”