MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS
JULY 29, 2017
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS/SHARK WEEK CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed his win at Indy last weekend, his thoughts on the two practice sessions today at Pocono and many other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT IS THIS WEEK BEEN LIKE FOR YOU FOLLOWING THAT BIG VICTORY IN INDY?
“Yeah, it was a great week. It was really nice to have a week after a win. It’s been a while to do that. First off spending it with my team on Tuesday we got together and to actually talk to all the guys that are part of the 5/24 shop and part of Hendrick Motorsports that make our cars go. They are congratulating me and I’m congratulating them. So, that was neat because we haven’t pulled a lot of wins out of that shop in a while, so it was really cool to have those conversations. Hendrick Motorsports put some bricks on the floor and everybody got to kiss the bricks in the shop that weren’t actually at the race track. So, it was just a neat week. I had a lot of fun and did some media stuff, TV and also radio and things, things that I hadn’t done a lot of lately. It was good to be part of all that again.”
HOW MUCH PRESSURE ARE YOU PUTTING ON YOURSELF TO PERFORM FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON AFTER THIS WIN?
“All I ever think about is racing. All I ever want to do is perform. I want to win, I want to run up front if we can’t win on that day I want to get the best result that we can. So, that is how I go into every weekend. We try to look at things leading into that week and it was no different thing week. We put a lot of time into Pocono and looked at Indy and tried to understand the things we did right at Indy. We unloaded there the second fastest car, we were eighth in final practice. How the strategy worked in our advantage at the end and things like that. We had to really understand and look at those things today. I think we unloaded seventh fastest which was really good for us here. I was really happy with the way things have been going and seem to be getting a little better. I think the communication and crew chief like trusting some of the things that I say I think that helps and that is something that we are going to have to keep working on. Just having trust in each other, all of us, me having trust in them and keep going faster each week. It’s all about running well. It’s no different this week than last week or the last two months. I got into them all just wanting to perform and run the best that we possibly can.”
YOUR SPOTTER KEVIN HAMLIN WON THE ARCA RACE YESTERDAY WITH JUSTIN HALEY HAVE YOU SEEN JUSTIN HALEY RACE AT ALL? WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF HIM?
“Yeah I think my spotter Kevin does a really good job. He is up here for every race, so he is part of every race he is on the stand spotting for different drivers. That was cool Justin won yesterday. I know Justin a little bit. He has worked out with my trainer the first half of this year. I know him a little bit form that. I’ve known Todd Braun for a long time and done some racing for him. It’s cool he’s doing well and he’s young. He has a lot ahead of him, so it’s good.”
HOW WAS THE CAR DURING THE FIRST TWO PRACTICE SESSIONS TODAY?
“I thought the first practice we were seventh early and didn’t get any better, but we made a lot of adjustments and learned things that weren’t working, you know didn’t seem to work. So, that was…you know everybody else went faster as the practice went, we didn’t so that is why we ended up there. And then this practice we didn’t make a qualifying run, we just kept working on race stuff, which it’s impound so you tape up the front for qualifying tomorrow and drop the trackbar, do some air pressure and add a little wedge, things like that. So, it’s not like a normal qualifying session for tomorrow and we have our teammates so we can look at some of that. Overall, I thought we made a 12-lap run right at the end and it was in the ballpark. It wasn’t the fastest, but it was pretty close. I’m just struggling in Turn 3. If we can fix Turn 3 we will have a really good day tomorrow.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SCHEDULE THIS WEEKEND AT POCONO?
“Yeah, a much different feel, last week did as well and then next week at Watkins Glen another two-day race. I think NASCAR and the teams are trying to understand if this will work well and the tracks how will this work for everybody and go from there. This schedule this weekend I think is a nice schedule for the teams and hopefully it works really well with qualifying in the morning and race in the afternoon. I like that. It is tough to say. We will have to keep doing it and really understand it. I like the impound. I like not having to put all that time into qualifying and then switch it back over for the teams. We only get about an hour and 40 minutes of practice, something like that, so to not have to mess with that 30 minutes of changes gives us more practice time for both. So, I like this schedule this weekend the best so far of the two-day stuff. But, it depends on what everybody likes and there are a lot of people that are looking at this and trying to understand if it works and makes sense for the future.”
AFTER THE WIN LAST WEEK, HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS RACE AND THE RACES MOVING FORWARD AS WE HEAD TOWARDS THE PLAYOFFS?
“I think one thing about this track and Indianapolis there are some of the corners are somewhat similar the long straightaways are similar and little bit flatter corners, so we took some of the things that we did with the car last week and tried to reapply them this week. A lot of the car was set-up last week from some races early in the season that I thought we were more competitive at, so did Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and that is why he went that direction. I feel like our car was pretty decent at the end of practice today. We still need to be better, but it was pretty decent. Just keep working on it. All the tracks, tires, surfaces are so much different these days that there are a lot of tools that we have to hopefully make the car right and drive it the right way. Those are other things that we are working on, but yeah, there is a little bit of similarities from Indy. Maybe that will work out well for us.”
I ASSUME THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT NEXT YEAR IS STILL THERE, BUT DOES THE WIN AT INDY HELP TO DECREASE THAT ANGST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
“Yeah, for me. I think for sure the win was awesome. To win the Brickyard and to win at Indianapolis was great for me as a driver. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I always dreamed of racing at that track, let alone winning at it. And so, I think it’s really good. It’s good for our team as well, and our future. Who knows? But, yeah, definitely good for our future.”
HOW UNSETTLING HAS IT BEEN THIS SEASON TO HEAR YOUR TEAM OWNER COME OUT LAST WEEK AND SAY THAT THE PLANS AREN’T SET FOR THE NO. 5 NEXT YEAR? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST FACTORS TO ENABLE A WIN? WHAT’S HAPPENED?
“I think there’s a lot of factors that go into that. The whole winning thing for one, it’s not easy. The last nine races have been nine different winners, so that shows the competitiveness of all the teams and drivers. And it took us a long time for everything to work out. We didn’t have the fastest car on Sunday, but we had a really good car and our strategy worked out perfect. Usually our strategy doesn’t work. That strategy worked, so we ended up in Victory Lane. It’s tough. It’s not an easy series to win in and everybody wanted to win and wants to win each week. When you get some of those guys up front who are really good, how do you beat them? So, a lot of that relies on the driver. A lot of it relies on the team. And then the set-ups. Having the car handle the way that you need it to as a driver is the only way you’re ever going to go fast and the only way you’re going to ever win races. And that’s something that we are constantly working on. I’m constantly pushing to try to figure out little things; like, I’m lacking here and I need this and this. If we don’t fix it, then we don’t go fast. So that’s something that I think my guys and we just have to keep working and listening to me. I’m the only one who can tell them what I need. So, if they can fix those things, I think we can go really fast each week.”
“I didn’t hear that until I got home. I pretty much knew it prior (laughs). There’s not a lot you can do. Like I’ve always said, I’m signed-up there through 2018 and it’s up to him what I do next year and the rest of this year. I want to race and I love racing. There’s a lot of people at Hendrick Motorsports that I enjoy and like working with and things. I love racing and hopefully I can win a lot more before it’s done.”
WE’VE HAD MORE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING LATELY, ESPECIALLY LAST WEEK AT INDY. WITH A WIN NOW, YOU’VE GOT TO FEEL MORE CONFIDENT GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING IS WHY MORE WINNERS ARE WINNING AND WE’RE LOSING SPOTS IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, I think the whole playoff deal is set off wins. So, if you can win, I don’t know what I was in points last week, maybe 20th or 22nd, somewhere in there. I know if I can win I have a great shot at making the playoffs. I haven’t been fast enough all year to be in the playoffs, but if I can win, I can. And that goes all the way down the line to everybody what’s in that race on that day. And, everybody realizes that. Plus, it was Indy. Plus, it was late in the race. And If I can do one thing right here, I get a chance to win. I mean there are so many things that go through a driver’s head. So, it was interesting. It was wild. And I don’t see that really changing at tracks where there’s restarts late in the race. Everybody has to go for it and will go for it the rest of the season. Even once we get into the playoffs and the playoffs are set, you’re still going to have that because winning a Cup race is not easy and if you can, it feels great for everybody involved.”
COMING TO POCONO WITH A WIN, DOES IT CHANGE YOUR MINDSET ABOUT HOW YOU AND THE TEAM APPROACH THESE RACES LEADING UP TO THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, I feel like it has to. The kind of thing I always go back to is like believing in each other and me believing more in them and them believing more in me and what I’m saying and also that I can do it. And I believe that they can do it and give me the car that I want if I give them the right feedback and information. So, it all relies on communication and then having the right strategy. That’s also a big part of it. But, yeah, I think that confidence and momentum gives us all probably a better mindset and a better understanding and gives each one of us confidence that I am doing this correctly. I am looking at it correctly. We just have to do it together.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE INDY TRACK AND THE POCONO TRACK?
ONLY TWO DRIVERS HAVE EVER WON BOTH INDY AND POCONO IN THE SAME SEASON.
“I just look at the long straightaways. I look at the Tunnel Turn and Turn 3 being pretty flat. The Tunnel Turn would be more like Turn 2 and Turn 4 at Indy. They’re not the same. They’re far from it. But there’s more similarities between them then Texas and the Tunnel Turn. The speed and the flatness of the track and then two or the three corners are kind of somewhat similar and some of the racing is similar because of the long straightaways and the draft and things. It makes restarts a big part of it. But, Turn 1 is its own race track. If anything, it feels like a 1.5-mile or 2-mile track in a lot of ways. I like Turn 1 a lot. I think Turn 1 is probably my favorite corner here. And then the Tunnel and Turn 3. Turn 3 is the most difficult corner. The Tunnel Turn is just its own corner. Turn 1 is really cool and Turn 3 is really difficult.”