MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BASS PRO SHOPS NRA NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 17, 2018
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 95 THORNE WELLNESS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway to discuss the recent announcement that he would be retiring from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Full Transcript:
HOW LONG HAD THIS REALLY BEEN GOING ON IN YOUR HEAD? HOW LONG HAD YOU BEEN CONSIDERING MAKING THIS MOVE? HOW HARD WAS IT TO KEEP IT TO YOURSELF?
“It has been on my mind for a while. Truthfully, the last two years at Hendrick and then the year here at LFR (Leavine Family Racing) just like as far as competition, I haven’t been as competitive as what I want to be. So, I would say over the last three, four months it’s started being on my mind, like man, do I need to find other things to do and think of other things to do. I just finally made that decision. But it’s definitely been there for a few months. I would say this year and LFR is working very hard to make improvements even get better from where we are at right now and that was exciting to me. It kept me in it a little bit longer, but then I finally just decided that it is time to do something different.
“I love NASCAR to me it’s been such a big part of my life and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. And will keep watching and keep coming to the races when I can and things like that and supporting it, supporting dirt car racing, supporting all the racing. I was thinking last night of how many different types of cars I raced over the last 25 years and it’s been crazy to think of all the cars and the success that I’ve been able to have in so many different cars and things like that. Yeah, it’s just something that I always truly have enjoyed, but need to just back off a little bit and not do it quite as much as I have because of the time I’m missing a bit with him (son, Tanner). I actually get so much time with Tanner and that is one thing, I saw people say you will get more now and I will, but I get a ton of time with Tanner, but it will just be different time now. It’s not always going to be on the week days, now it can be on the weekends. We can go to a football game, we can go to a baseball game, just do things and not be completely thinking about racing while I’m with him or while I’m at a dinner or so many different things that go on throughout a week or a year.
“My mind is always in racing. It’s all I’ve thought about for 25 years. It’s all I’ve wanted to do and figure out how to get better as a driver, as a team, understanding the cars, all those things, you know how can I get better? That is all that has been on my mind. So, just back off of that a little bit I think will be really refreshing and be really good for me and my family, friends, things like that.”
FROM EVERYTHING WE KNOW, BOB LEAVINE WAS TALKING TO YOU AND IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU HAD OFFERS. HOW DO YOU WALK AWAY FROM MONEY ON THE TABLE?
“Yeah, I mean that was one part of it was the money side. I had some neat opportunities with Leavine. We were working together for the season and it was going to keep getting better. There was money there, there were a few other offers that I had received over the last month and just options that we could talk about, things like that. It felt really good to have that, but at the same time it wasn’t necessarily about that anymore and I didn’t feel that I could seriously race all of next year and be completely committed 100 percent and I feel like there are guys out there that can be and that should have those opportunities over me at this point in time because I don’t feel like I can be that guy from this point on.”
WHEN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS THAT HAVE WALKED AWAY IN RECENT YEARS AND SEE HOW THEIR LIVES ARE NOW IS THAT SOMETHING YOU LOOKED AT?
“Yeah, I mean I definitely looked at that and thought about that. I see good things out of those people and what they are doing and the happiness in their lives. So, that was something that crossed my mind, but at the same time, it was more about kind of where I was. I have some ideas on business. I still love my sprint cars and want to be close to that and keep that going. We want to grow that and keep it as strong as it can be because I’ve been part of short track racing basically since I left it to come to NASCAR. I want to stay part of that. Yeah, I think that there are some really good opportunities out there that I can do and still be close to racing, but just not into it totally 100 percent all the time like I have been the last 25 years.”
YOU WERE IN, AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, AN INTERESTING SITUATION IN THAT I THINK YOU HAD ONE MORE YEAR LEFT AFTER LEAVING HENDRICK ON THAT DEAL. SO, COULD YOU HAVE ESSENTIALLY JUST WALKED ABOUT AFTER LAST YEAR AND BEEN UNDER CONTRACT THIS YEAR? DID YOU USE THIS YEAR AS SORT OF A WAY TO EVALUATE IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED TO KEEP DOING KNOWING THAT YOU WERE STILL GOING TO BE UNDER CONTRACT FOR ONE MORE YEAR?
“Yeah, I mean I thought this year with a new team kind of a new outlook, small team, that opportunity that Bob Leavine gave me that was exciting to me going into the season. At the end of last year, it was actually kind of mid-August when we first started talking and it was going to be fresh, new, something different. It was exciting to me so I wanted to give it one more shot with a different group and a different company and I did that. We have had some success this year, we have also had races where we all wanted them to be better and then we have had some races that weren’t good at all. But the successful days make me happy on Monday and excited to come back for that next race. But I just kind of ran out of that anymore, like I am just happy to finish these final 12 the best that we can and enjoy it with the guys and try to get some good results and then do something a little different after that.”
IF YOU HAD WALKED AWAY LAST YEAR WOULD HAVE GOTTEN PAID FOR THIS YEAR?
WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR FANS AND SOME MEDIA IN MOTORSPORTS TO UNDERSTAND WHY DRIVERS WANT TO WALK AWAY WHEN THEY DO?
“Yeah, I am not exactly sure. Last night I started looking at social media and I hadn’t looked at it a bunch throughout the day so it was really interesting and felt really good to read a lot of that. And see kind of the impact that I’ve brought to racing in a way. I think so much about it as basically the person that I am and who I am and how I was raise and I go back to kind of the same reasons why I’ve kind of had enough at this point. When I was young my Dad was all about if you do something, you do it 100 percent. You put everything you have into it. When my parents finally said yes for me to go racing at 14 (years old) like it was 100 percent from that point on and it’s all that I’ve… kind of like I was saying, it’s all that I’ve thought about. It’s all that I really think about when we are having fun, when we are doing whatever it maybe I’m still there I’m still thinking about racing and I think it just gets to be a lot. Twenty-five years later it’s just a lot and it will be nice to not have that on my mind full-time. That is kind of my biggest reason is just to think more about him (son, Tanner), think more about other things in life and things that I want to do, achieve, and just not be so deep into racing for a little bit. I think that will be really nice for me.
“I also had the side from texts and emails, phone calls, mentions things like that on social (media). It’s kind of the person that I’ve been and the way I’ve treated people and to me that is all about my Mom and the respect side and she was always about treat people the way you want to be treated and respect people and they will respect you back. So, I’ve been like that whether it’s fans, whether it was sponsors, owners, mechanics, like whoever I’ve been associated with in racing and I saw a lot of that last night. That makes me feel pretty good to know that and just to know how much I’ve put into racing and how much I love racing.”
WHEN THE CHECKERED FLAG FLIES AT HOMESTEAD AND YOU LOOK BACK ON YOUR CAREER, ARE THERE ANY REGRETS THAT YOU’LL REMEMBER? OR, WILL THIS TIME IN NASCAR BE CONSIDERED AS A SATISFYING PART OF YOUR LIFE?
“It will absolutely be satisfying. To me, I’ve won 20 Cup races; it says 18, but that All-Star race was just as hard as the others (laughs). The 150 I had to beat Tony (Stewart) and that was just as hard as the others. So, yeah, hey I would love to win a championship. I would love to have 30 race wins. But, that didn’t happen and I’m fine with that. And I feel like the things that did have been great. I got to basically make a run and live in an awesome time in NASCAR until now and it feels great to be a part of NASCAR, for sure.”
ARE YOU A NOSTALGIC GUY AND REMEMBER A LOT OF STUFF, OR ARE A FOCUSED GUY LOOKING AT THE ‘NOW’; ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU RACE YOUR THROWBACK PAINT SCHEME CAR AT DARLINGTON?
“The Darlington race to me as been such a cool race since they started bringing back paint schemes from the past. For my team to do our ’06 scheme, which was my best year with wins, I think the car looks great. It turned out awesome. I’m really happy about it, too. I saw a lot of fans are excited about the look and I’m the same way. I think the Darlington weekend is great and I’m glad I’ll get to run that car. I remember a lot of that year in ’06 with Kenny Francis who was the biggest part of my entire career.”
THESE YOUNGER DRIVERS DON’T HAVE KIDS AND FAMILIES LIKE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. DO YOU THINK AS THEY SEE THEIR FAMILIES BEGIN AND THEY GET MORE MATURE THAT WE’RE GOING TO SEE YOUNGER DRIVERS IN NASCAR WHEN THEY HIT 35, 36, 37 YEARS OLD THEY’LL WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH THEIR FAMILIES?
“I think it’s tough to say. I feel like everybody is a little bit different. For me, this is a great time for me to slow down a bit. But, I don’t know. The kids coming up are so good. It doesn’t matter if you’re at Outlaw Kart races or if you’re in the Truck Series, the Xfinity Series, the Cup Series, the kids that are coming up and what they can do right off the bat and how quickly they can learn is unbelievable. And they show that skill and they get in a good car and they can perform with a good team. It’s great to see. There’s going to be some guy who is going to have a great opportunity because of me getting out of the No. 95, I know that. That’s going to open up the door for someone and timing will be perfect on what they’ve done over the last couple of months to get that opportunity. I don’t know the outlook on people on when they retire or backpedal or any of that, but this is perfect for me. It’s probably a lot different for a lot of people as they go.”
YOUR STATEMENT ABOUT RETIREMENT WAS SORT OF OPEN-ENDED WHERE YOU MIGHT COME BACK AND DO SOME OTHER TYPES OF RACING IN NASCAR. IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP A TEAM OR RACE THE ELDORA TRUCK RACE OR SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES, WOULD YOU CONSIDER IT?
“I feel like I can still go out and win races and be competitive. Why be completely done if there is an opportunity to do a couple of races, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard, or whatever it may be; or maybe never drive another Cup car after Homestead. I’m not sure. But, I still love racing. I know I’m going to be a big part of racing from here on out. I’ll still be around. Yeah, if I can help out at some point, I’d love to get in the car probably and still do some driving.”
HOW MUCH SPRINT CAR AND DIRT RACING DO YOU PLAN TO BE DOING? DO YOU THINK YOU’LL SEE AN INCREASE IN THAT?
“I think I’ll definitely do a little bit more. I feel like our teams are very good. Last week with Brad Sweet winning the Knoxville Nationals was a huge. It was a dream for a lot of us to win that race. It was special to be there and cheer him on. And I still love that racing. That’s where I started. That’s how I learned how to drive. So, I feel like I could see myself doing 40 or 50 Sprint Car races next year. Not a full deal because that doesn’t do me much good for backing off a bit. But you can do 40 or 50 races in about three months in that deal and still have eight or nine months to do other things. Yeah, I think we can have fun in Sprint Car racing, for sure; and then also have some business opportunities down the road.”
IS YOUR SPRINT CAR RACING SELF-SUFFICIENT? WITHOUT ANY MONEY COMING IN FROM A CUP RIDE WILL YOU BE ABLE TO KEEP RUNNING THE TEAM AT THE LEVEL IT IS?
“Well, it definitely will change it up a little bit (laughs). But, we’ll work really hard. We’ve had strong partner and strong sponsors over the years and I feel like we can carry a lot of that. Myself and Mike Curb have worked together to have two or three teams with the World of Outlaws since 2006. So, yeah, I think we can push pretty hard and try to bring in enough money and do it right and still have two World of Outlaw teams and myself 40 or 50 times would be ideal for us at this point.”
HAVE YOU OFFERED TO, OR DO YOU EXPECT THAT YOU MIGHT PLAY A ROLE IN FINDING YOUR SUCCESSOR FOR THE NO. 95 CAR AND HELP WITH THE TRANSITION GOING FORWARD?
“I’ve told them I’d love to help or give advice or anything I could. I see a few guys out there that could probably fill that spot and do a really nice job. I also have a great relationship with the sponsors that we’ve built this year and that they were building when I got into the car. And it would be great to keep those relationships going as well. So yeah, I’m all-in to help the No. 95 and be part of that team any way that I can as they transition to what they’re going to do next year.”
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