NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2
Topics: Gatorade Duel
February 11, 2010
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We have our winning crew chief of today's second Gatorade Duel. That's Kenny Francis. He crew chiefs Kasey Kahne's No. 9 Budweiser Ford.
Talk about today's race.
KENNY FRANCIS: Yeah, it was a pretty good race for us. You know -- we were in the Bud Shootout the other day. First run in a Ford. That went pretty well. Finished second. So this one was pretty good race for us. I don't think we ever got shuffled back too far and car seemed to handle fairly good. Made a pretty good adjustment at the pit stop that we made. That helped him out.
I think that was part of the difference, where he was able to really get up front and really race pretty hard.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions.
Q. This week we've seen a lot of the Chevy guys being up front. What do you think of the Chevy power and how you can contend Sunday?
KENNY FRANCIS: From what I've seen, the Chevy guys qualified good. But our Fords seemed to run strong in race configuration. If you look at our run, the 17 ran good, the 19 ran good. In the first race, you know, Allmendinger ran good in one of our cars. The 16 ran really good up there.
I think the Ford stuff is really strong. I think come Sunday, I feel like we've got a real good piece and a real good chance to give 'em a run for it.
Q. Did you learn anything today? With your engine package, are you going back to the older motors? Some discussion whether you're going to use the FR9? Is it already planned what you're gonna do?
KENNY FRANCIS: The plan is to go back to the older engine like we ran in the Shootout. I think they got a few of the newer motors they want to run in the 500. I'm not sure how they're going to divy that out. Of course, maybe that plan will change by now.
Pretty much, we just take Doug's advice on which to run. Doug Yates built us great motors for this deal, builds great motors for all of them. I would say pretty much everyone would say Doug is kind of the Speedway expert around the garage area. Whatever Doug thinks is best is probably what we'll do.
The last plan was to run one of the older motors in the 500. You know, see what he has to say.
I think they're really happy they won a race with a new engine. That's looking really good.
Q. When you saw Montoya bump-draft Stewart on that last lap, were you a little concerned that might be enough that Kasey wouldn't be able to peddle back from?
KENNY FRANCIS: When he got the lead there, we tried some stuff today, you know, with our setup a little bit different than what we practiced, a little bit different than what we ran the other night. I didn't feel like our car led as well, but it felt like it raced well and was good in the corners. Not sure why or what. But, yeah, I was a little bit concerned when Montoya got behind him there and was pushing pretty good.
But, you know, luckily, however it worked out, we beat him to the line, and that's all that counts. But, yeah, for sure, us being up there with air on our nose, a little bit worried about it.
I tell you the 2 I thought was really strong, I was happy he was behind kind of helping us.
Q. A lot of cars are slipping and sliding. You guys, you have different rear shocks and springs. How does that impact things? How do you have to look at changing how you adjust the car because the conditions are changing?
KENNY FRANCIS: Well, yeah, it's a little bit different shock package this year. But it's not a whole lot different. I think just the track's so slick. It's a great racetrack. It's great to race on. The drivers are really working hard out there. I'm sure everybody has seen that. I'm sure the TV guys were focusing in on that.
It's just a really slick track. It's rough. It's bumpy. You know, it throws the cars around. So to me, it makes for a really great race. You really have to hustle the cars around here, even more so than an intermediate track.
I don't think it's the shock package that's making the car slide around more. I think Goodyear came back with a little bit different tire, and the tires are holding up really, really well, better than we've seen here in years and years. There may be some, you know, grip level a little bit different with how that compound reacts to the asphalt that's making the cars a little more slippery.
Kasey hasn't complained much about his handling. He's been happy with the grip level. Even the Goodyear guys have come around and asked him a few times. We have a little different aero package, as well. They took a little bit of that wicker off, which is a little less downforce. Then they got the shark fin on the deck lid which changes how the air works around there.
There's a few factors around there causing that. It's probably a combination of all of them. I think it's making for a great race really.
KERRY THARP: Kenny, congratulations. Good luck on Sunday in the Daytona 500.
KENNY FRANCIS: Thank you.
Our championship driver here of the second Duel is Kasey Kahne. Congratulations.
Take us through the final few laps there. That was certainly quite a battle you had going on towards the end.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it was really exciting throughout the race. My car, we started off pretty loose on entry, a little tied off. Kenny Francis, our Budweiser team, did a great job on the pit stop to get it a little bit better. At that point I tried to learn what some of the other guys' cars up front were doing. Once I got behind Tony, I felt like I was in a really good position and just needed to take advantage when I got the right push. Kurt gave me that in turn one. I was able to sneak under Tony.
From there I just tried to keep the 2 behind me. He was really strong throughout the whole race. I felt if I could keep him behind me, that I'd have a decent shot at winning, trying to beat Tony.
It was close, but we were able to pull it off. Feels good to win at Daytona.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Kasey.
Q. The Chevrolets have shown their power here, but you seem to be the one that can fight with them. Do you feel that way going into the 500?
KASEY KAHNE: Absolutely. I feel like we still have a few things we can do to make our car better. The track changed from this week to last week a little bit. I imagine it will change a little more before Sunday. We need to keep going in that direction on what we learned today.
Hopefully we'll be ready to go by the 500. We have a great starting position. The Roush-Yates Ford engine is really, really good. I'm excited for the race on Sunday. We need to get a little bit more out of our car. I think we'll have a shot to hang out up front and hopefully be there at the end.
Q. This isn't the first time you and Tony have decided things real tight like that. Can you talk about that was probably fun, if you want to use that word, and do you think this makes a little stronger case you get to keep the new engine for the race?
KASEY KAHNE: I enjoy racing Tony because you know if you beat that guy, you've done something on that day. He always seems to be at the front. Whenever I'm having a good day, he's always the guy there I actually have to beat.
He's won tons of races and I haven't even been in the field or even close to where he's at; but it seems like every time I'm up front, he's one of them cars that I'm battling with.
I pushed him to the front. From there, you know, Kurt pushed me hard. I had the open shot to get by him, and it ended up close. It was closer than I thought at the line. Cole, my spotter, said, Good job. I couldn't tell if I won or not. Once he told me, I was pretty happy.
Q. What about the engine?
KASEY KAHNE: The engine is good. The engine is really good. We're still kind of tweaking on it because it's new to them down here. So we've been making adjustments. We made it better throughout practice yesterday. I'm not sure how the new/old is going to work out. I actually like both of them. I don't really care. I just want another one.
Q. I know you don't want to get ahead of yourself, but after the uncertainties towards the end of last year, after Saturday night, this afternoon, what is the mood of the team, prospects for the rest of the season?
KASEY KAHNE: The team is really good. The team is always good. Those guys, they go -- they've been through a lot in the last couple years, and they just keep working right away and giving me great racecars.
Again today, you know. We made some gains yesterday throughout practice. We were able to win today. We ran second in the Shootout. They're pumped. They're excited. So am I. It's nice to work with such a good team. I've said it for a long time. Have Kenny Francis as our leader, you know, I enjoy it. I think we have a lot of races ahead of us this year that I think we can run strong in.
Q. You said the other night you thought the Shootout was a real good race. A lot of people think your race was good. I don't know if you saw the first race, what you thought of that. What do you think we can expect on Sunday?
KASEY KAHNE: I thought the Shootout was really good. I watched the entire first race from my bus. At times I was like, Man, it didn't seem like the Shootout was the other night, didn't seem like the races was two- or three-wide. Then we got in our race, and I was in the middle of three-wide for three or four laps. May car was moving. I don't know if I'm in the car or I look at it differently or not, but I definitely feel like it's been pretty exciting and good from my standpoint.
Sunday is 500 miles. There's going to be -- handling is going to be a big part of Sunday. Everybody is pretty quick the first five laps, ten laps, but that final 20, 25 laps of a race run, handling will be big. It will get somewhat spread out, then a couple cars will pull out, stacked up, then get spread out again. I don't think you'll see, until the last 200 miles, that it will really get exciting again like maybe the Bud Shootout was on Saturday.
Q. I did a quick scan of your record at Daytona. This is your first win at Daytona. How does that feel?
KASEY KAHNE: It feels great. I always think back. You watch tons of races growing up as a kid. That's all I did is watch races or go to races. I can remember every Daytona 500, you know, having 15, 20 people at my house, breakfast, all that. I think it was about a 9:00 start back then at our house. It was neat.
Daytona is one of them tracks that there's a ton of history. Our car owner, Richard Petty, is a big part of that history. It feels good to be in Victory Lane here and win this early in the year.
Q. Obviously it's good for you if you could win every race by five laps. What kind of charge does it give a driver to win a really tight, close finish like that?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, yeah, I mean, if you can win by a ways, it's nice 'cause you don't have all that -- you know, you never know what's going a happen. I didn't know who was going to win until they tell you, when it's that close. You can't see out of these cars to see well enough to know where the front is and where the front of the other car is. It's a little bit nerve-wracking. At the same time it's exciting.
You know, I enjoyed it today. I really liked this type of racing. I've liked it for a long time. Seems like when I first started in Cup, we were in a lot of wrecks on these types of tracks. The last few years, some of that's changed. I feel more comfortable. I feel I can make better moves throughout the race and get in the right line more often than not.
Hopefully we can keep it up. I enjoy Daytona and Talladega both.
Q. Is it a toss-up between being on the bottom or high side at the end of the race? Do you want to be on the bottom?
KASEY KAHNE: I think it depends where you're at on the racetrack. But the start/finish, the bottom looks like it's won by a little bit in both races. You know, the bottom, usually leads the most laps throughout the race, but the top gets a boost once in a while.
It seems like just watching these races, being in them, to clear that car in the very front. Whoever is leading, you can move to the outside, back to the inside, keep the air mixed up, he seems to have the best shot. It's hard to actually clear that car and then you take the lead.
So when I was able to do that in the middle of the corner with Tony, helped out a lot. I don't think you can do it on the straightaways unless you have some huge push.
KERRY THARP: Kasey, congratulations on today's win. Good luck in Sunday's Daytona 500.
KASEY KAHNE: Thank you.
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