Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 9/1/14

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Budweiser Dodge, waits by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2009 in Avondale, AZ. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed the momentum the No. 5 team has after a strong run in Chicago last week, winning at NHMS in the spring, what he has brought to Hendrick Motorsports this season and other topics. 

TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOU GOT OUT OF CHICAGOLAND AND NOW YOU ARE COMING TO A RACE TRACK WHERE YOU HAD SUCCESS JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO: “We felt good about Chicago we started the Chase off on a good note.  The team did a really nice job.  We were close, we weren’t as good as Brad (Keselowski) and Jimmie (Johnson) but we were pretty close.  We have a lot to build on there.  Coming back to Loudon, I like this place.  We have run pretty well here at times.  We were right in the mix the first race and ended up getting the win here.  Hopefully Sunday we can put together another strong performance, qualify well this afternoon and put together a good performance on Sunday.”

QUIETLY AND SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS ARE KIND OF MOVING UP THROUGH THE PACK.  HOW WOULD YOU GAUGE YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION LEVEL RIGHT NOW AS YOU LOOK AT WHERE THINGS STACK UP? “I feel like we have kind of slowly made ground all season long since about the seventh, eighth race.  We made progress and have got closer.  We have had great cars, the team I feel like we get stronger each week together and last week was probably our best overall race that we have had all year.  We didn’t win, but minus not winning I think overall we did a really good job.  To me everything keeps getting better.  I would like to keep gaining points we have done it all year.  I think we can keep going in that direction slowly.  It’s going to get tougher as it goes for sure.  This place something could happen and you could fall back a little bit, but the points are still really close.  I think until you get to about the fifth race who knows where everybody is going to go.  I think that we have a strong team and everything really looks good for us right now.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE WITH A NEW ORGANIZATION AND EVERYTHING, BUT YOU STILL HAVE THE NUCLEUS OF YOUR OLD TEAM PRETTY MUCH TOGETHER.  SO WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST GAINS THAT YOU HAVE MADE?  WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE INDEED A CHASE CONTENDER? “I would say there are a lot of little things, some big things as well.  Some of the guys are the same guys that we have had for a while so that is good for me because I understand everyone.  Then we have some of the No. 5 guys from last year and a few others from Hendrick Motorsports.  I think some of that has taken time to get to where we are at and feel really confident with everybody and they feel confident with me.  My teammates being able to work with them and take things from Jimmie (Johnson), Jeff (Gordon), Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) the way that they explain things or the way that they may do different than what we have.  In the past I think that has helped me a lot.  I think having an engine that runs great at every single track we go to.  This is probably the first time in my career I have never once had to think man I’m a little bit off at this point of the track engine wise.  That is something that is a first.  That is a big thing.  Then just the people that are always looking for more at Hendrick Motorsports, those guys that each week we have a little bit better this, little bit better that.  I don’t think we have had that.  I think there are a lot of little things, but the teammates are a big thing to me.  I felt like going into this season that would be a big thing and it has been.  Just to have that caliber of guys to kind of look at and listen to.”

WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TABLE?  WHAT KIND OF INPUT DO YOU GIVE TO THOSE THREE GUYS? “Well I think myself and Kenny Francis (crew chief) we have been to a lot of different organizations over the last three, four years.  We have went through a lot of up’s and down’s.  I would say we have seen the way other people do things and we brought some of our own ideas that Kenny has come up with over the years so I think just when you are at one place for a long period of time a lot of the things you see and do are very similar.  You are always trying to make gains, but they are similar. We have been out of the box at different companies.  I think we brought a little bit because of that.  Then myself personally I don’t know I like working well with people.  I have always thought a lot of the guys that I get to work with now.  I think just bringing a good attitude and hopefully some good things that I may do on the race track or something and explain in some of our meetings maybe some of that stuff helps those guys.  But I think an attitude and just wanting to be part of it is probably the best thing that I bring.”

 HOW MUCH PHYSICAL TRAINING DO YOU DO, AND HOW DOES BEING IN GOOD SHAPE HELP YOU ON THE TRACK?  “I do a good bit of training each week, but when I was preparing for that mini triathlon, Sprint triathlon, I would say I was doing more of things back-to-back-to-back. So, rather than just doing a long run, or some core, I was doing a run, some core, biking, swimming; all that stuff back-to-back-to-back. I would say being able to last longer, having that type of strength was probably what I was doing earlier. But I still work out as much as I can. I enjoy that. I like being prepared, and feeling like when the race is over, I could go another 300,400, 500 miles, whatever we had to if that was the case.”

 OTHER DRIVERS HAVE SAID THAT THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO WIN A BUNCH OF RACES TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?  “I think it is really competitive. It is really close, from lap times to each team, each company with each one of their drivers. It’s close each week. I kind of like seeing some of those other guys up there last week. I liked seeing guys that aren’t in the Chase because that gets you a few more points on the guys that are in the Chase, the group that I’m racing with now. It’s good to see that, as long as you are in front of that group. We were last week, so that’s good for us. But, I feel like consistency is going to be big, but you are going to have to win a little. Those bonus points add up pretty quick from winning and leading laps. Ten races is really a long time. It’s not a two-three race dash. It’s 10 races, so I think those extra bonus points will be pretty crucial as we get into those final two or three races.”

EVERYONE CALLS MATT KENSETH THE STEALTH. COULD YOU BE A LITTLE BIT OF THE STEALTH? “Matt is really good at that. I have watched what he has done forever, and he’s always been pretty quiet. You don’t even see him. You are running third or fourth all day, and you don’t see the No. 17. Then he passes you with 30 laps to go and runs second or wins. I’ve seen that since I’ve come into the sport. I would say Matt is better at that than myself. I feel like I am pretty quiet, and just kind of do my own thing. I work hard to try to be the best at what I can. I think having a good team surrounding you, and being able to communicate on things is something that I’ve worked really hard on because I know how much Kenny Francis has done for me over the years. That is a big part of it for me. Yes, I’m not really a trash talker or anything like that. I just get up, try to do my thing, and go to sleep.”

MWR (MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING) HAS TWO CARS IN THE CHASE AND THAT IS PRETTY BIG FOR THEM, BUT FOR YOU GUYS AT HENDRICK (MOTORSPORTS) HAVING FOUR CARS IN THE CHASE, HOW BIG IS IT?  “I feel like what MWR did this year was great. I mean, they’ve come a long way in a short period of time. I was really impressed with them. They have really good drivers there, and teams and things. To be part of Hendrick Motorsports, the first time they have put all four cars in the Chase, to be part of that, I feel really good about it. I think any one of our cars is capable of winning any one of these races, and the championship. It is nice to be part of it, a really strong organization like that. I know Mr. Hendrick wanted us to do that at the start of the year, he made it known. It felt good that we were able to do that for him.”

HAVE YOU WORKED OUT WITH DALE, JR. YET?  “No, I haven’t worked out with him yet, but I’ve heard that. Just looking at him, and talking to him, and seeing him after the races, he looks really good. I feel like he is definitely after it. So, that’s good. That’s neat that he is doing that, and trying something a little different than what maybe he’s done in the past.”


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