Kahne Wins First Cup Race With Ford In Gatorade Duel 150
Today’s win by Kasey Kahne was the first win for Ford’s new FR9 engine.
The win also marked the first for Richard Petty Motorsports since joining Ford at the beginning of this season.
Kasey Kahne’s win was his first at Daytona International Speedway, the first with Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the 20th win for Ford in a Gatorade Duel qualifying race.
Kahne becomes the third active Ford driver to ever win a Gatorade Duel, joining Bill Elliott (4) and Elliott Sadler (2).
All 13 Ford teams are qualified for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
GATORADE DUEL #1
AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion (Finished 7th) – “The Best Buy Ford was really fast. The driver did a pretty decent job on the race track, but not very good in the pits. We got to second and I missed our pit box coming in. I lost the pit sign and it just honestly blended in with everything. I guess it was first pit stop jitters and that got us behind. The guys did a great job. The car was really good and I felt like if we could get back in the clean air and get back up front, we had a chance to win the race, but we’ve got some good notes for the 500 and that’s what pays all the points and all the money.” WHAT DID YOU LEARN FOR SUNDAY? “It seems like the track is getting bumpier and bumpier every year and our car is bottoming out a lot, so if we can get the front of the race car off the race track, the thing is gonna be really good. I hope the fans enjoyed it because it’s gonna be a great 500 and it’s gonna be a lot of fun in the driver’s seat.” IS IT ANY KIND OF BLESSING WHEN YOU MISS THE STALL AND FIND YOURSELF IN THE BACK AS FAR AS SEEING HOW YOUR CAR HANDLES IN TRAFFIC FOR SUNDAY? “Maybe, but I like being up front. I’m trying to get used to being up front more and hopefully that’s what we do all year, so I wanted to start as early as possible. I’m just upset with myself. I knew that pit road was gonna be slick and I honestly just lost the pit sign and overshot it by a mile. You just never know how these races are gonna play out. I started 12th and got a great run on the outside and was third before I even knew it. That last time, I didn’t get the right line and kind of got up to seventh or eighth and got stuck there before getting shuffled back to 16th again. It was tough, but, all in all, we came out fairly unscathed. We’ve got to work on the bumper a little bit. I think the 78’s bumper bar was out at the end of the race and I kept bump drafting him, but, for the most part, we came out unscathed. The car is really fast and we learned some things, so hopefully we get that pit road mistake out of the way early and we’re good.” WILL YOU GET A NEW PIT SIGN ON SUNDAY? “I hope so because when I drove by on the first pace lap I thought to myself, ‘That’s small.’ Unfortunately, we were pitted with Carl and his is bright pink, so it just blended in. It was my fault, but we worked hard and showed we have a fast car. We got back up through the field and I really thought if we got around the 78 with two to go, I had a chance to win the race because those guys were on two tires. I’ll beat myself up overnight for it, but we’ll be ready tomorrow.”
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (Finished 13th) – “I learned a lot and that was good. I worked my way up to fifth or sixth at one point and had a chance to race up there, so that was helpful. My pit crew is amazing. I’ve got the best pit crew on pit road, so that feels real good. I think it’s gonna be a great race. The track is perfect and the tire is perfect. It’s good all the way around.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 9th) – “If you can’t win, you want to bring the car back in one piece. This has obviously been a good car since we unloaded it and our UPS team has done a nice job so far in Speedweeks. I think we certainly had a car that could have won, but so many factors go into winning a plate race. That last restart, a few guys got jumbled around and we did the best we could, and still have our car in one piece. It should be a fun race on Sunday.” DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHANCES SUNDAY? “Yeah. The car responds well. Our pit crew did an excellent job on pit road, so that’s got us an OK starting spot for the big race on Sunday. We’ll tweak on it a little bit, and I think we’ll have a real nice car on Sunday.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 11th) – “I’m real happy with the race. The car drove well and I while I wasn’t happy with the outcome, I was pretty happy overall with how it handled. Let’s face it, if the 13 wouldn’t have been in the outside lane on that last restart, we certainly would have had a shot at the win. He’s a great driver, but he spun his tires and continued to kind of spin them all the way down. I’m not sure what happened and why he couldn’t get traction. I was trying to push him and I could have hung him out to dry through that short chute, but decided to stay behind him and help get him going. Hopefully, he made it in, but I knew at that point I probably wasn’t going to win, so two or three starting spots, for me, wasn’t gonna make or break my season. So I said, ‘I’ll just stay in line and not try to cause a big fiasco being three-wide going in there.’”
JOHN ANDRETTI – No. 34 Window World Cares Ford Fusion (Finished 16th) – “It was OK. I think that we had a pretty good car. The only thing is we had some issues in practice and they reappeared in the 150, so we think we have a good handle on what’s going on now and we’ll be able to fix it when they tear the car down and get it ready for Sunday’s race. So it was a good race for us. We got to try some things and really went out on a limb on a couple of things with the race car. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t. I think we had a pretty fast car, but we didn’t want to get digging too much. Plus, with the other issue, we had a small fuel pick-up problem for some reason. We had it in practice and didn’t solve it, so I think we have a good idea where it is now.”
ROBERT RICHARDSON JR. – No. 38 Mahindra USA Tractors Ford Fusion (Finished 23rd) – “I’m not real happy with the handling of the race car. We’re still plugging away and trying to get the car handling a little bit better. We’re fighting kind of a tight-loose condition, which means the car is pushing in the corner and the more steering input I put in the corner the car snaps loose. We’re gonna try to get that leveled out with the practices we have remaining and try to get the car handling a little bit better, and try to get the car to suck up better in the draft. The car didn’t draft as well as I thought it would, so we’ll just take what we’ve got and keep going.”
TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 37 ExtenZe Ford Fusion (Finished 19th) – “It was OK. Our gameplan going in wasn’t to really push real hard. At the start of the race I drove real hard and got up in there and got some decent track position, but the tires started to wear off and it started to get three-wide and it wasn’t a position we needed to be in. We don’t need to be wrecking race cars. Overall, our car is decent. We’ve got a list of things we want to work through over the next couple days and we want it to be with this car. We’re in the 500 and didn’t really have a whole lot to gain, but a lot to lose so we drove a pretty conservative race. It’s frustrating right now because I know we could have finished right up in the middle of things, but, at the same time, if we would have wrecked the race car, we’d feel pretty stupid right now. Overall, it wasn’t a bad day, but Sunday is where the money and the points are so we’ve got to be there when it counts.”
GATORADE DUEL #2
BORIS SAID – No. 26 Window World Cares Ford Fusion (Finished 27th) – “We’re doing this race on a tight budget. We’re in the race, so we want to save our car and save the motor for the race. The car ran great, but we really weren’t planning on starting to run hard until tomorrow. That’s when we plan on practicing hard and then running really hard in the 500, but it seemed to run pretty good.” IS IT A CASE OF NOT HAVING A BIG CAR INVENTORY TO FALL BACK ON? “Right. We did this program two weeks ago, so we have a backup but it doesn’t even have an engine in it. We’re trying to do this race with just one engine instead of two, so we’ve got to run limited miles. Being locked in the show, it would be stupid to go out there and wreck for just as starting spot, whereas the 500 is so long that you can start anywhere and do good. I think it’s a good plan.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Finished 11th) – “When we started off I didn’t think it was very good, and then about 15 laps into the run it really came to us and we were able to drive all the way up to the lead. I thought everything was pretty good. We were just a little loose, so we tried to tighten it up on the pit stop with four new tires and it just took off sideways. I burned the right-rear off that whole run.” SOME GUYS IN THE FIRST RACE SAID THE TRACK ALMOST FEELS LIKE A JULY RACE IN THAT THE TRACK IS SLICK. WHAT DO YOU THINK? “It seems like the tire maybe has a little less grip than what we had, which is OK as long as we’re not blowing out tires. That’s no big deal, but we also have a bigger plate. I don’t know if we have more or less downforce, but when you’re going faster and the track is really worn out because it’s another year older, it’s gonna be slick.” HOW DO YOU ADJUST TO IT? “You really just have to work on your handling and keep working to make it as balanced as you can, and make it handle the best you can.”
ELLIOTT SADLER – No. 19 Stanley’s Ford Fusion (Finished 5th) – “I feel great. The car drove really good. We feel like we learned some things today for Sunday’s race. We finished fifth and my teammate won the race, so it was a great day all in all for Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford and Stanley. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good piece for Sunday. It handled good and ran good on long runs, and that’s what it’s gonna have to have.” WHAT KIND OF A BOOST IS IT FOR YOU ORGANIZATINO TO WIN A RACE RIGHT OFF THE BAT WITH FORD? “It’s a big boost. Doug Yates and his engine staff have given us a lot of horsepower here this weekend. It drafts good. It cools good, so those guys did a good job.”
PAUL MENARD – No. 98 Peak/Menards Ford Fusion (Finished 15th) – “I learned a lot for Sunday. We started off and were pretty good, but it seemed when the sun went down or things cooled off the track got a little freer. I was kind of hanging on at the end. The top line was the line you needed to be in, but I was a little bit too loose to run up there. I could run the middle and bottom good, but the car would bog down too much to get a good run off, so I learned some things and we’ll be ready for Sunday.” HOW SLICK WAS THE TRACK? “It’s been a slick race track since we unloaded last week. I don’t know if it’s the rear shock package or what, but it’s definitely a lot slicker than it has been.”
RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS PRESS CONFERENCE
KENNY FRANCIS, Crew Chief – No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion – “It was a pretty good race for us. In the Shootout the other day was our first run in a Ford and that went pretty well, we finished second, so this one was a pretty good race for us. I don’t think we ever got shuffled back too far. The car seemed to handle fairly good. We made a pretty good adjustment at the pit stop that we made and 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.”
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN COMPETE WITH THE CHEVY POWER? “From what I’ve seen, the Chevy guys qualified pretty good, but our Fords really seemed to run strong in race configuration. I think if you look at our run, the 17 ran really good in our race, the 19 ran good. In the first race, Allmendinger ran good in one of our cars. The 16 ran really good up there, so I think the Ford stuff is really strong and I think on Sunday I feel like we’ve got a real good piece and a real good shot to give them a run for it.”
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING TODAY AND WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE FR9 ENGINE? “The plan is to go back to the older engine like we ran in the Shootout. I think they’ve got a few of the newer motors that they want to run in the 500, but I’m not sure how they’re gonna divvy that out. Of course, maybe that plan will change by now. We pretty much just take Doug’s advice on which one to run. Doug Yates built us great motors for this deal and builds great motors for all of them. I would say everyone would pretty much say Doug is the speedway expert around the garage area, so whatever Doug thinks is best is probably what we’ll do. Last week the plan was to run one of the older motors in the 500, but we’ll see what he has to say. I think they’re really happy they won a race with the new engine and it’s looking really good.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN MONTOYA BUMPED STEWART ON THE LAST LAP? “When he got the lead there, I felt like we tried some stuff today with our setup that was a little bit different than what we practiced and a little bit different than what we ran the other night, and I didn’t feel like our car led quite as well, but I felt like it raced really good and was really good in the corners. I’m not really sure why or what, but I was a little concerned when Montoya got behind him there and was pushing pretty good. Luckily, however it worked out, we beat him to the line and that’s all that counts. But us being up there with air on our nose, I was a little bit worried about it. I thought the 2 was really strong and I was happy he was behind kind of helping us.”
THE TRACK SEEMS SLICKER THIS TIME AROUND. HOW DOES THAT IMPACT THINGS? “It’s a little bit different shock package this year, but it’s not a whole lot different. I think the track is just so slick. It’s a great race track. It’s great to race on. The drivers are really working hard out there. I’m sure everybody has seen that and I’m sure the TV guys are focusing in on that, but it’s just a really slick track. It’s rough, it’s bumpy and it throws the cars around, so, to me, it makes for really great racing. You’ve got to really hustle the cars around here, even more so than an intermediate track in a lot of cases. I don’t think it’s really the shock package that’s making the cars 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 grip level that’s a little different with how that compound reacts to the asphalt that’s making the cars a little more slippery, but Kasey has not really complained about his handling much at all. He’s been pretty happy with the car and the grip levels, and even the Goodyear guys have come by and asked him a few times, so, I don’t know. We’ve got a little bit different aero package as well. They took a little bit of that wicker off, which is a little bit less downforce, and they’ve got the shark fin on the decklid which changes how the air works around there, so there are a few factors there that’s probably causing that and it’s probably just a little combination of all of them, but I think it’s making for a great race, really.”
KASEY KAHNE – No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion – “It was really exciting throughout the race. My car started off pretty loose on entry and a little bit tight off, and Kenny Francis and 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 were doing and 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, and Kurt gave me that in turn one. I was able to sneak under Tony and from there I just tried to keep the 2 behind me. He was really strong throughout the whole race, so I felt if I could keep him behind me that I’d have a decent shot at winning it and trying to beat Tony. It was close, but we were able to pull it off. It feels good to win at Daytona.”
CAN YOU COMPETE WITH THE CHEVY POWER? “Yeah, absolutely. I feel like we still have a few things we can do to make our car better. The track changed this week from last week a little bit, and I imagine it’ll change a little more before Sunday, so 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 and 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 and I think we’ll have a shot to hang out up front and, hopefully, be there at the end.”
YOU AND TONY HAVE BATTLED BEFORE. WAS THAT FUN AND DOES THIS MAKE A STRONGER CASE TO KEEP THE FR9? “I enjoy racing Tony because if you beat that guy you’ve done something on that day. He just always seems to be at the front. Whenever I’m having a good day, he’s always the guy there that I have to actually 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 everytime I’m up front, he’s one of those cars I’m battling with. I pushed him to the front and from there Kurt pushed me hard. I had an 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, so once he told me I was pretty happy. The engine is good. The engine is really good and 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 and old (engine) is gonna work out, but I actually like both of them. I don’t really care which one I get, I just want another one.”
AFTER THE UNCERTAINTY OF LAST YEAR, WHAT’S THE MOOD OF THE TEAM AND PROSPECTS FOR THIS YEAR? “The team is really good. The team is always good. Those guys have been through a lot in the last couple of years and they just keep working right away and giving me great race cars – again today. We made some gains yesterday throughout practice. We were able to win today. We ran second in the Shootout and they’re pumped, they’re excited and so am I. It’s nice to work with such a good team. I’ve said it for a long time and to have Kenny Francis as our leader. I enjoy it and I think we have a lot of races ahead of us this year that I think we can run strong in.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRST DUEL AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT SUNDAY? “I thought the Shootout was really good. I watched the entire first race from my bus and at times I was like, “Man, this doesn’t look quite like I felt the Shootout was the other night.’ It didn’t seem like the racing was quite as two and three-wide. Then we got in our race and I think probably about lap three I was in the middle of three-wide for about three or four laps. My car was moving, so I don’t know if I’m in the car and I look at it differently or not, but I definitely feel like it’s been pretty exciting and good from my standpoint.”
WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY? “Sunday is 500 miles. Handling is gonna be a big part of Sunday. Everybody is pretty quick the first five laps, 10 laps, but that last 20-25 laps of a race run handling will be big and it will get somewhat spread out, then a couple of cars will pull out and that will get it stacked back up, and then it will get spread out again. I don’t think you’ll see until probably the last 200 miles that it will really get exciting again like maybe the Bud Shootout was on Saturday.”
THIS IS YOUR FIRST WIN AT DAYTONA. HOW DOES IT FEEL? “It feels great. You watch tons of races growing up as a kid. That’s all I did is watch racing or go to races, and I can remember every Daytona 500, having 15-20 people at my house – breakfast and all that. I think it was about a 9 o’clock start back then at our house, so it was neat. Daytona is one of those tracks that has a ton of history. Our car owner, Richard Petty, is a big part of that history and it feels good to be in Victory Lane here and win this early in the year.”
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO WIN SUCH A CLOSE RACE LIKE THAT? “If you can win by a ways it’s nice because you just never know what’s gonna happen. I didn’t know who was gonna win until you cross the line and they actually tell you. When it’s that close, you can’t see out of these cars well enough to know where your front is and where the front of the other car is, so it’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but, at the same time, it’s exciting. I enjoyed it today. I really like this type of racing. I’ve liked it for a long time. It seems when I first started in Cup we were in a lot of wrecks on these types of tracks and in the last few years some of that has changed, and I feel more comfortable. I feel I can make better moves throughout the race and get in the right line more often than not, so, hopefully we can keep it up. I enjoy Daytona and Talladega both.”
IS IT A TOSS-UP BETWEEN BEING ON THE BOTTOM OR HIGH SIDE AT THE END OF THE RACE? “I think it depends on where you’re at on the race track, but the start-finish the bottom looks like it’s won by a little bit in both races. The bottom usually leads the most laps throughout the race, but that top gets a boost once in a while. The thing about, it seems like just watching these races and being in them, that to clear that car in the very front – whoever is leading can move to the outside and back to the inside and kind of 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 where 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.”