CHEVY MENCS AT MICHIGAN TWO: Kasey Kahne Press Conf. Transcript

(Chevy)

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

PURE MICHIGAN 400
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT

AUGUST 11, 2017

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 LIFTMASTER CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed his reaction to the announcement that he will not return to the No. 5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports in 2018, his thoughts on where he might race next season, the first practice session at Michigan and many other topics.  Full Transcript:

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE DYNAMIC AND VIBE WAS WITHIN THE TEAM TODAY?
“Well, I think it was kind of interesting… the vibe was good.  The team was good just pretty similar to always.  It was the first time I had seen my guys since the news.  A lot of them weren’t at the shop on Monday, so they were told by guys that were at the shop and I was gone at Knoxville this week.  I talked to a couple over text or Snapchat, phone call, something like that, but that was really about it.  So, today it was cool everybody seemed good.  We just kind of went to work like always and hope to put together a really strong weekend.”

EARLIER TODAY KYLE LARSON WAS HERE AND HE WAS GOING TO KNOXVILLE TO RACE UP THERE.  ARE YOU DRIVING YOUR SPRINT CAR YOURSELF FROM TIME TO TIME?  WILL YOU HAVE SOME MORE INVOLVEMENT NOW IN YOUR TEAM?
“No, pretty similar to how it’s been the last few years.  I race when I can, which is not a lot, but when I can I still enjoy racing on the dirt.  This weekend it’s all about our teams, Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman they are starting third and seventh on Saturday night in the Knoxville Nationals.  So, we have two good cars and good opportunities to try and get a Nationals win. Yeah, I just support those guys.  I love that type of racing and being a part of it, being an owner, trying to give them the opportunity to go out and win the biggest sprint car race that there is.”

TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE:
“I started basically Sunday night, Monday talked to some different owners, personnel at different teams and just trying to show that I really want to still be in the Cup Series.  I want to race here and if there is any opportunity I would love to talk about it, something like that.  That has been really good.  Everybody is nice and talked about their programs and was really cool to have those conversations.  Also, Mr. Hendrick has been really supportive and making sure that… you know he wants me in a car as well.  You know it didn’t work out in the No. 5, but he wants me in another car and he wants me to be out there racing next year.  Between all that, I just really think I will be able to come up with something that will be very competitive and be able to be in the Cup Series for a while to come.”

RICK HENDRICK TALKED ABOUT A LIAISON TEAM POSSIBILITY.  ARE YOU BANKING YOUR HOPES ON THAT?  ARE THERE MANY OPPORTUNITIES OUT THERE?
“Yeah I mean I think we all know that there are not a ton of opportunity.  There are some really good drivers that don’t have a deal done at this time that will probably end up in cars I would think.  I just feel like the opportunities are pretty slim, but I’ve always tried to be really respectful and when I’ve had the opportunity to go fast and win we have been able to win some races.  I would always like to win more, but we have some wins and have done a good job with the people in the garage and our partners over the years. So, I really think that I can come up with something good and come up with something that will be fun to be a part of and also try to work hard to make that team better than it’s ever been and myself better than I’ve been.  I still have that mindset and I really hope that something works out to where I can be in a strong car next year and enjoy racing in this series, because I’ve actually enjoyed it for so long and I’ve lived so many of the highs of the Cup Series.  I watched Jimmie Johnson win five championships.  I’ve won 18 races myself and we had six wins in one year.  I watched Dale, Jr. win some different races, but when he won Bristol in the No. 8 car was something that I will never forget because of the 170,000 fans that you thought were going to come to the infield with him.  I think I’ve lived a great part of the sport, been part of all that and I don’t want to be done yet.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PREPARING FOR THE PLAYOFFS AND THE REST OF THE SEASON?
“I think the biggest thing there is just working with my team and having my team behind me.  Me being behind them and what they do, how hard they work to prepare the best car and put it on track each week and just trying to find the little bit of speed we need if we are ever to want to win a championship and advance through those rounds.  I think we all know the No. 78 and No. 18 have been really the cars to beat the last month. The No. 42 right before that was really strong and we have all just been a little bit off of that.  So, we are working hard to get to where we want to be.  The only way I’m going to get there is the people and being part of that.  I feel like that has been one thing at Hendrick Motorsports one of the coolest things there has been working with my teammates, the other crew chiefs, (Chad) Knaus, Alan (Gustafson) and Greg (Ives), those guys.  I just feel like I’ve had a really good relationship with that whole group on both sides.  So, I think we have to keep that going all the way until the end of the season and just try to get the best results we possibly can.  But it all is just people and how we work together and if we do what I know that we can do, I think we can really perform and do a lot more than what we’ve done so far this season.”

DO YOU THINK A NEW RIDE WILL GIVE YOU A FRESH START AND REJUVENATE YOUR CAREER?
“Yeah, I mean I certainly hope so.  I think that it’s all about people again if you can get the people behind you and believe in you and then I believe in them and we work together for the same goal and that is to win races. It’s a competitive series it is a super tough series to win in and so many things have to go right for the entire race weekend and then throughout the race.  It’s not easy by no means, but once guys figure out how to do it they and they can get on that roll they figure out the speed in their car, what the drivers looking for and can give him that feel each week.  They figure out how to win more than the rest of us.  They can definitely be done having part of that side of things in the past and hopefully we can be part of that again if we get in the right situation.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU THAT RICK HENDRICK SAID HE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE NO. 5 TEAM NOT RUNNING UP TO EXPECTATION?
“Well, I think a lot of what he said this week means a lot to me because to have somebody like Rick Hendrick, Mr. Hendrick, to be on your side, even though I’m not going to be part of his team anymore, to be on your side and the power that he has in this sport and what he has done for NASCAR for this sport for so many drivers and employees over the years.  To have him behind you is a really good thing.  I respect that.  I respect him a ton.  Yeah, I hope we can build something out of that, but I also have been working in my own direction as well on certain things to make sure I just check out everything that is out there for sure.  I don’t want to miss anything, but yeah, Mr. H. has been really good about where we are at.  I think we are going to come up with something that should work out pretty well.”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE STRUGGLE AT MICHIGAN THE LAST FEW YEARS?  HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, I think over the last few races here, since then, the final restart has put me from like seventh or eighth to 13th – 15th I would say in some of those races.  So, we could have run top 10 in a couple of the races since 2014, but to actually run in the top five we haven’t had that kind of speed at all.  So, we are trying to work on those things.  Obviously, the restarts to me, there is a line that you are put in and where you go from there is up to the driver so you have to make things happen in the first and second corner, but as far as the speed of the car that is something that I think we have made some gains in.  Since Indianapolis, I thought at Indy we unloaded second, I thought we were really competitive and Pocono, I felt we had a third to fifth-place car, it didn’t work out at the end the way things went, but our speed was third to fifth place. So, we are just working from there and also, what we had the first Michigan race, which we were an eighth-place car and finished 14th, so hopefully we can get in the top 10.  That would be a nice weekend, but yeah, I want to be in the top five and I want to see if we can have the speed to really just battle for a win again at Michigan. That would feel pretty good, but as of today we were a little bit off getting into the corner, my car was like moving around left to right a lot, pulling on the left front and losing right rear grip.  So, just a small balance thing there that we will work on tomorrow, hopefully we can get a lot closer.”

FOR 2018 YOU ARE JUST LOOKING FOR A RIDE IN NASCAR ONLY?
“Just the Cup Series.  Yeah, really just the Monster Energy Cup Series as far as NASCAR goes.”

TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RACING AT BRISTOL IN THE DAYTIME VERSUS RACING THERE AT NIGHT:
“They are both great races, but over the years the track to me has just gotten faster.  With the grip that they put on the top and now they are putting grip on the bottom, so it’s as fast as it’s ever been I think.  Throughout an entire run the cars don’t fall off like they used to.  Probably some of your faster laps are later in the run than they are even at the start sometimes.  Just trying to battle through those things, be able to pass cars and be in the right position like any other track, but yeah, Bristol is a good track to go to.  Track position means a lot and then on the longer runs you can make moves it seems like.  But yeah, I think the night race to me, in the past especially there is so much like the vibe and the excitement of it is so good.  So, it’s neat to be part of that race and try to get a night win.  We won during the day and that was really cool.  I think I won at night in maybe Xfinity, but yeah, it’s a neat place to race, just a small track everybody is close together and top or bottom, wherever your car works the best or if there are cars in front of you, you go somewhere else. Yeah, it’s challenging for sure to try to get the speed and keep it throughout a whole run.”

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