NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
BANK OF AMERICA 500
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 12, 2013
KAHNE AND JOHNSON SCORE TOP FIVE FINISHES AT CHARLOTTE
FIVE TEAM CHEVY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS IN TOP 10 OVERALL
CONCORD, NC – October 12, 2012 – With a really solid No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS race car, Kasey Kahne led the most laps, 138 of the 334-lap Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to finish second overall. It was Kahne’s 12th top-10 finish in 20 races at the 1.5-mile track and his 12th top-10 finish of the 2013 season. He currently ranks 13th in the Chase standings.
In spite of leading the most laps, having a strong race car, and contending for the win, Kahne came home just behind race winner Brad Keselowski (Ford).
“We had a great race,” said Kahne. “I was on two (tires) and he (Keselowski) was on four (tires) and he could just move around a little bit better. I was trying to move around, but I was just a little bit on the tight side with the front end, then I would get loose if I got the front working. I was doing all I could and felt pretty good, but he made some nice moves and just really had some speed there late in the race and was able to get by me.”
Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, also had a fast race car in his No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevy SS. Johnson led 130 laps and finished in fourth place; giving Team Chevy two of the top-five finishing spots. He holds strong in second place in the points, with five races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Championship contenders Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS finished sixth, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Chevy SS was seventh, and Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS finished eighth. All three drivers maintained their positions in the current standings. Harvick is third, Gordon is fourth, and Newman is in 12th place overall.
It was a tough race for Kurt Busch, who struggled with handling issues with his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevy SS, but was able to finish in the 14th position. And although he had a solid start to the night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. also fought handling problems with his No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS and finished 15th. Busch remains seventh in the points; Earnhardt Jr. fell one position and now ranks ninth in the standings.
Rounding out the top-five finishers were Matt Kenseth (Toyota) in third and Kyle Busch (Toyota) in fifth.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup continues with race number six of 10 next Sunday, October 20th at Talladega Superspeedway.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
KERRY THARP: We’re going to roll right into tonight’s Bank of America 500 post‑race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, No. 5 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Our race runner-up is Kasey Kahne. He drove the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and Kasey, certainly had a very, very competitive race car out there tonight. You led a lot of laps, contended for the win, and just fell a little short. Just talk about your run out there this evening.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we had a really good Quaker State Chevrolet throughout the whole race from the time it started, and it was really solid until about lap 160 or so, it changed a little bit, and then we had to ‑‑ (inaudible) just got it back. At that point we lost our speed and was then kind of second to Jimmie. We took two at the end. That was a great call to stay on the front row there and have a shot. I was able to clear Jeff. I thought I did pretty good, but as soon as I got to Turn 1 my left side was a little bit ‑‑ I could feel they weren’t working quite as well. They were just rough, kind of bouncing a little bit, so I knew I was in trouble at that point. So I just tried to run good laps, and Brad caught me and I tried to switch it up and find momentum and find speed. He got by me in 3 and got back by him the front stretch and then he came up again. He ran a really good race and they were close, but felt really good, felt strong the whole night. I wish we could have won, but this was a good race for us considering the last four races.
Q. Given the struggles you had in the last few laps, did you ever get a sense that you were going to be able to catch him, or did you kind of resign yourself that it was going to be a challenge?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, he got by him, he got back by him and he was able to keep with me on the corner and I knew what his car felt like compared to mine because of tires. I was trying to find speed, and after he got by me I found a little bit up high in 1 and 2 (inaudible) still could get through there pretty good, and Brad ran a strong race and did a good job and we fought until the end, and I got into the wall in 4 coming to the white (inaudible).
Q. I know it’s not quite the finish you wanted but what kind of momentum boost is this?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it’s a good boost. Charlotte always gives us a pretty good boost. We always seem to run pretty well here. We always have, and hopefully we always do.
Q. Kasey, Brad was talking about how he felt comfortable racing with you even though you guys raced so hard. He said there’s other guys who freak out when he gets that close to them but you have a good respect for each other. Can you talk about that?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think we do. I could feel him a lot, not too much the first half of the straightaway but towards the end of the straightaway getting in he’d really put pressure on me, on my left‑rear quarter or my right rear depending on which side he was. I could feel him. It would move my car. He did it down the whole backstretch once and I tried chasing him and just about lost it in the middle of the back straightaway. So we ended up playing kind of the air game and trying to give our cars as much speed as we could. But neither one of us ever came close to wrecking each other. It was just about racing hard. He drove it into Turn 3 way far to clear me, and I got back under him, so it was a great battle. I had a good time racing with him. We came out on the wrong side of it.
Q. On the restart were you wondering, where is Jimmie, why isn’t he coming up behind me?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I saw Jimmie. He started right behind me, and we went ‑‑ I was racing Jeff, so I didn’t look in my mirror until I cleared Jeff off of 4, and then I didn’t see Jimmie once I cleared Jeff. So I was coming to complete the first lap after the green flag. I had no clue where he went. I didn’t know if something happened or what. And then I saw him again later in the race. He came back through to I think to fourth or fifth. Either way I was surprised. I don’t know what happened to him. He was strong the last half of the race. He was really strong.
Q. Kasey, intermediates seem to play well for you but you mentioned that Charlotte always gives you an extra big boost. What is it about this place that brings out the best in you?
KASEY KAHNE: I don’t know, we just always have ran pretty good at this track. I wish I knew how to get my car to drive like it does here at other places. I don’t know if it’s the tire or the track itself, what it is. But we just always run pretty good here. It’s a confidence, kind of always gives us confidence when we leave here. So it’s nice. Hopefully we can run to Texas to test and hopefully we can run pretty strong the rest of the year. I don’t want to finish last in points, so we’ll see what happens.
Q. In V
ictory Lane, Brad said there are a handful of guys you can’t race hard with in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey Kahne is not one of them. I know you kind of addressed this a little bit, but do you kind of agree with Brad’s assessment, and do you agree that if so, are you guys among those that seem to not have a problem racing hard?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think there’s a bunch of guys like that myself, that I’ve raced with. But yeah, I don’t feel like me and Brad have a problem racing. I think we’ve raced hard in the past and we’ll race hard for a while. But tonight was a good battle. He had four tires and I had two, and I did all I could, and he just got by me and cleared me.
I don’t know, I always race him pretty good, and we raced hard. I don’t really know what else to say about it.
Q. With the testing coming up on Monday and looking at rules for 2014, with all the slicing and dicing you were doing out there but then a bunch of people bitching about the cars being tight and everything else, where is the balance that we’re looking for moving forward with what changes, modifications need to be made to these cars?
KASEY KAHNE: I don’t know. I heard they have a lot of ideas and some different things to try, I think, I’m pretty sure here Monday. We’re not part of that test, but I would imagine they’ll learn some things. I had a great car tonight and I could race pretty good, but everybody is just so fast. All the cars, all the teams do a really nice job, and if you look in practice, the speeds are so close, we qualify and are all within I think the top six or so, within half‑a‑tenth or a tenth or somewhere in there. When everybody is running those types of speeds, it’s going to be tough to pass regardless of ‑‑ it just is. Hopefully they keep looking at stuff. I think the tire is a big part of it, and I think Goodyear definitely gave us a better tire this week to race on than last week, so I definitely thank them for that. But I think the tires can always get better and help the racing and the cars, as well, and hopefully we learn some things in the next week to keep gaining.
But tonight’s race wasn’t too bad, I don’t think.
KERRY THARP: Kasey, thanks for putting on a great performance tonight, and we’ll see you at Talladega.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES