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Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports - Q&A

18 March 2013

Q:
This is Kasey's 15th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, your first here at Bristol. Congratulations on winning here at Bristol Motor Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports.

You jumped seven spots in the points standings today. You're up to seventh. Quite a day. Certainly coming off last week's performance, you could have won out there at Las Vegas, too.

Kasey Kahne:
Feels really good to win at this place. Such a tough track over the years. My first time here in 2002 was just something I couldn't believe the way that you drove, as hard as you drove here, the way things happen so quickly. To win a Sprint Cup race here feels really good.

We had an awesome Great Clips Chevy SS throughout the race. The pit calls were perfect. The pit crew did a really good job with pit stops. Was able to race hard the whole race. It worked out for us.

Feels really good to get in Victory Lane and get our first Sprint Cup win early in the season.

Q:
Kasey, four races so far [in 2013]. 36th, 19th, 2nd and 1st. After the first two, were you concerned you were having a similar start to last season?

Kasey Kahne:
Yeah, it actually seemed really similar to the start of last year, those first two. Had two great cars at Daytona and Phoenix. Phoenix we kind of fell off a little bit. Definitely had a good car at Daytona and we lost some points the first two.

Since Las Vegas, the test day went really well. I thought we learned some things there, were able to put a really good weekend together, and again this weekend.

We've gained a lot of spots here in the last two weeks and feel really good about where we're at, where our team's at. There was a lot that went on during the off-season to get a little bit better. I felt like each one of us needed to get a touch better. So far it's all paying off. The guys are doing an awesome job.

Q:
Do you think the last two weeks is more representative of the team?

Kasey Kahne:
I would say so. Just from each practice session, the preparation of the car prior to getting to the track, then qualifying. We've been qualifying up front each week. I think it's all definitely going in the right direction.

The pit stops have been really good. The guys are just nailing it on pit road. It's fun to come to pit road and break even or gain spots.

Q:
Kasey, all this talk the last couple years of good Bristol, bad Bristol. That sequence with you and Keselowski was crazy. Walk me through that. It seems like lap traffic was as much a part of that.

Kasey Kahne:
Yeah, Brad got out to the lead there and it took my car a few laps to get going. I reeled him in. Just trying to make the pass. He was driving into the corner so hard I couldn't really do anything on the bottom or try any type of somewhat of a slide job or anything like that. It was just trying to get momentum off the corner and make something happen on exit.

It took a while to do it. I bumped him a few times. He was sideways trying to hold us back. I got the lead, then gave it right back in lap traffic two laps later.

Definitely I was mad at myself at that point in time. About spun out off of two a few laps after that. Had to calm down, get things going again. Felt like we got a good restart that final restart, got to the lead. From there it was just momentum and try to drive away.

Q:
Nerve-wracking?

Kasey Kahne:
It wasn't too nerve-wracking then with Brad. It was how can I figure out how to get by. The two of us were out front a little bit. I was just trying to run a lot of scenarios through my head and make it work. Finally it worked, got by. But it took a while. It was tough. I mean, we were running as hard as we could.

Q:
How angry were you after last week and are you over it? Listening to you on the radio after the race, you seemed really frustrated, the fact you had the best car and didn't win.

Kasey Kahne:
I was frustrated for like five seconds, then I went right from the angry moment to telling the guys how good they did, you know, that day, how well our weekend went, all of that.

I wasn't too angry at all really. I was mad that we gave a race away. But there was really nothing we could do the way it all turned out and the damage that I had to the car from the restart. It was nobody's fault. It was just racing. We had a great car all day.

I wasn't mad at all. I felt good Monday and all week. I'm going to feel better tomorrow (smiling).

Q:
On the restart, Keselowski got shoved there. He said his wheels were actually off the ground. Looked like the #11 and the #22 got into each other. Were you aware of what was going on? Were you aware of the skirmish they had in the garage afterwards?

Kasey Kahne:
I could hear the crowd. I had no clue what happened on that restart other than Brad took off a little bit and I had a good start, then he dropped. I knew he spun his tires. I don't know how it all happened. That's all I can really say. From there it was just trying to stay in front of him, get up high, get my momentum going.

Then I did hear the crowd, so I knew something was going on. I saw Denny the last four laps going slow with some type of a problem so I thought he might be involved with what the crowd was yelling at after the race. I haven't seen anything else. I'll watch tonight for sure. I'll go back and check the highlights.

Q:
Do you feel like you could have won three of the first four races?

Kasey Kahne:
Yeah, I thought we were really good at Daytona. Car had a ton of speed. We could have been in that mix, but we didn't get to that point in the race.

The last two weeks, we could have won definitely last week and had a great car again today.

Q:
Kasey, Charlie Daniels said earlier today his first race here at Bristol is going to let him scratch something off his bucket list. Is this the kind of win for you that's a bucket list win, means a lot to you?

Kasey Kahne:
This is a big race for me. I just feel like when you're racing in the Sprint Cup Series, Bristol's one of those tracks that as a driver you really feel like you need to win at, you want to win at. There's so many things that are thrown at you when you come to this place.

We've been trying a long time. So to pull it off, I felt like it was a big accomplishment for our guys and myself. Just feel really good about it. Like Kenny said, we've been fast here other times and just not been able to finish the deal. It's a big confidence builder. It feels really good to win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Q:
Kasey, after a lot of pretty tight racing most of the day, once you got the lead on the restart, you sprinted away from everybody. Was your car that good or...

Kasey Kahne:
I think our car was just that good. There were points in the race when we were able to do that earlier on also. I felt like we just had a really good car. I just needed to get to the front, get some clean air, try to get away from the guys.

Once I got to probably 10 laps to go, I could see where Kyle was and Brad, see the lap cars I was catching, just try to keep that gap for the final 10 laps, take care of my stuff just in case we had a green-white-checkered. I wanted to have the best tires we had at that point.

I think it was just the car. It was fast. I was able to get away and kind of control the race from there.

Q:
Y'all have now been to four dramatically different types of racetracks with the new car. Did you learn anything today that will carry forward or had you learned everything you were going to learn the first three weekends and today maybe not quite so much?

Kasey Kahne:
I think just driving-wise, you know, Bristol is Bristol. This place races similar, drives similar. Like Kenny was saying, there's a couple things you work on with your car to make it right. Last week in Las Vegas, that was a good chance for us to see how the Gen-6 car will race on a mile-and-a-half with the same tire we ran last year. I was real happy with it, being able to move around on the racetrack, as hard as you could drive. Phoenix had a different tire and a different car. That was tough to say exactly. But you race that track different as well. Daytona, too.

Each track so far you definitely have to drive differently, set the cars up differently. I've been pretty pleased. I think the last two weeks our cars have really driven really well, the engines. Everybody at HMS is preparing and giving us great racecars.

Q:
Congratulations on a very big win today for the #5 team. Continued best of luck this week as we head out to California.

Kasey Kahne:
Thank you.


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