3 questions with Kasey Kahne
It's been a significant turnaround year for Kasey Kahne.
After winning a series-leading six races and finishing eighth in the Chase for the Cup in 2006, Kahne went winless and failed to make the Chase in 2007.
But the driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge of Gillett Evernham Motorsports has been smiling a lot more in 2008.
After the first 19 races of the season, the Enumclaw, Wash., native already has two wins and is ranked 11th among potential Chase qualifiers (the first 12 make it, following the early September race in Richmond).
Kahne's wins thus far this season came in the grueling Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season, in late May and then two weeks later at Pocono, which the series visits again in two weeks.
He comes into Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard – a race sponsored by one of his primary sponsors – with a mixed bag of results. In four career Cup starts at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kahne had finishes of fourth and second in 2004 and 2005, but was a disappointing 36th and 40th in 2006 and last season's race there.
He's obviously looking for a turnaround there, as well, this weekend.
Kahne talked recently about how things have improved significantly for him this season, as well as the work still left to do to keep that momentum and progress moving forward.
Q. How do you feel the team is progressing this season?
A. "I know that we're progressing as a team, as a company. All the cars are better and the things that we are doing to the race cars are much different than what we did (even) four months ago."
Q. How difficult has it been for you and crew chief Kenny Francis to adapt to the new-style Cup car this season?
A. "It's tough. We've come a long way from where we were last year. Even the start of this year, we ran well but not as good as we are right now. We've come a long ways on things in the past two or three months to get our car better to where the adjustments aren't so fine to make. Hopefully, it just keeps getting better and better."
Q. Like most other drivers, you've had your fair share of complaints about the new car this season, yet you seem to be able to have worked through those problems better than most others. Can you explain why and what does that mean for the rest of the season?
A. "I've really learned a lot about the (new car) and how to make it turn and still be on the race track. That was our biggest problem. I feel like we're really close to being more competitive than we already are."