Kasey Kahne Gives Ford Its Second Pole Of 2010
— Kasey Kahne gave Ford its second pole of the 2010 season by running the fastest speed (93.893 mph) for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway.
— This marks the 17th NSCS pole for Kahne and first since winning the pole here at Infineon Raceway in 2008.
— The other Ford pole this year came at Phoenix, where AJ Allmendinger claimed the top spot.
— The last time a Ford sat on the pole at Infineon was 2007 when Jamie McMurray was the fastest.
KASEY KAHNE PRESS CONFERENCE – “It was a good run. Coming to the green I felt like I overshot 11 a little bit, so when I got back there, I ran the whole lap and wasn’t as aggressive as I could be – sliding the car a little bit – but was really comfortable and under control, and then when I got back to 11 I lifted a little early and didn’t run through that corner as hard as I probably should have and probably gave up a couple tenths to Jimmie, so I was happy with the run. I’m glad we still got the pole, but I need to keep working on some corners out there, for sure.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FEEL OF THIS CAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR? IS IT A WINNING RACE CAR, TOP 5? “Today I felt like it was. In practice first thing we were in race trim and I think we were second or third. We switched over to qualifying and we were right there in the top five also. It’s a great car. It’s the same car we ran here last year, minus the engine. We have a Ford engine in there which runs really well, and I’m looking forward to how that runs throughout the race and how the car handles throughout the race. Tomorrow is a huge part of the weekend in getting the balance right and having the forward drive and being able to turn and hit the corners like we want to.”
WHAT’S GOTTEN INTO YOU AT THIS PLACE? “I think just experience. You get better as a driver on these types of tracks. You learn the cars better. You learn the course better, and just having better race cars, too. I think the speed of the car has been, the last couple of years, has been better than anything I’ve had in the past.”
DID THE WHEEL HOP THROW YOU OFF IN FOUR? “I didn’t have any wheel hops in my run. I might have jumped a curb, but that’s a lot different than a wheel hop. Actually, I jumped the curb and may have been a little too aggressive through there, but I didn’t slow up and didn’t lift off the throttle and came out of it without hitting that wall, so it seemed to be alright.”
HOW MUCH DOES THIS HELP AS FAR AS WINNING THE RACE? “I think the confidence of the team and myself, and just having a great starting spot on Sunday is always nice. The strategy that you play here with fuel mileage and tires and kind of when you pit is always a big factor in this race, and how well you finish in this race. There’s a lot that goes on. There will be a lot that goes on Sunday afternoon the final 20 laps with the double-file restarts. We saw that last year and, hopefully at that point in the race, we’re up towards the front because it gets pretty crazy about two or three rows on back. It’s wild up through there probably from turn four to turn seven.”
HOW WILL THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER POSSIBILITY PLAY INTO THE FUEL MILEAGE? “It’ll definitely be a factor there. That’s a good point and it’s gonna be a big factor at the end of the race. We’ve had a lot this year and this place could easily give us two or three late in the race, so you’re gonna need to figure that in. At that point in the race, hopefully nobody runs out of gas. You want to just race and you want to finish the right way, but fuel mileage is part of racing and part of everything.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD ALL 4 WHEELS OFF THE GROUND? “I know I had at least two and maybe three, I’m not sure. It felt like my left-rear was still on the ground, so that was good. At least I had one of the four, but you just stay in the gas, I guess. That’s all you can do once you get to that point. My car was going pretty straight, so I just kind of stayed in it. They’re heavy cars, so they come down quick (laughing).”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE A ROAD COURSE WIZARD NOW? “No, I don’t because I know what it felt like two years ago when I wasn’t running up front in the race and when I wasn’t making passes. I was getting passed and sliding around a lot more than I wanted to. Those are the kind of things you don’t forget and I remember that, so I don’t think I’m any type of a wizard at this kind of track. I need to keep working really hard to be perfect and to not make those mistakes because those guys behind you will capitalize and take advantage really quick.”
WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF THIS COURSE FOR YOU? “I always think getting into turn 11 there is a big dip in the track right as you hit your brakes, so if you try to go past that, you can wheel hop. If you try to lift early you’re fine, but you don’t get to 11 fast enough and they can take advantage of you on entry. That’s a pretty critical spot for me, but the whole course, there are slippery spots and the track with the way the banking falls off in certain areas and you lose grip, and go over a hill and lose grip where the car gets light, so there’s a lot of things that happen. It’s a tough course. It’s a slippery, tough course.”
HOW QUICKLY DID IT TAKE YOU TO LEARN DOWNSHIFTING ON THESE COURSES AND WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD? “I was able to come out here in ’04 and I came with Bill Elliott, who was a big part of my first year coming into the Cup Series. He went with me everywhere when we tested and helped my learning curve out a lot. So that was nice to have him because he would stand in each corner and tell me where I was screwing up and help me with my downshifts. I’ve also spent some time with Boris Said and trying to learn from him at some of the tracks around North Carolina and Virginia on road racing and downshifting. So I think I’ve learned a lot from those guys, and then just doing it yourself and running laps is a big part of it. My iPod, I broke my iPod a couple weeks ago and I don’t remember what I was listening to when I broke it, so I don’t know what I was listening to last. I like a lot of bands, though.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Insignia Ford Fusion (Qualified 15th) – “The Insignia Best Buy Ford is better. We’ve been struggling little bit today, just really loose rear grip-wise. We picked up about four-tenths from where we practiced and we made the car better. We definitely have to keep working on it to make it better, but I was happy we gained. We’ll see where that puts us. Maybe that will put us around the top 15 or top 16. We’ll just keep working on it for tomorrow. It was kind of the same thing last year. We struggled a little bit on Friday, and made it better on Saturday and were really good on Sunday, so I’ve got confidence in my guys and we just have to keep making it better.”
PAUL MENARD – No. 98 CertainTeed/Menards Ford Fusion (Qualified 18th) – “I messed up one of the esses, which kind of hurt me through there, and then it got slick into turn 11 under braking, so I left some time out there for sure. The car is really good. I hate that we won’t be able to improve on it tomorrow, but I’ve got another good Ford back in Wisconsin, so I’m looking forward to running that one.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Qualified 46th-DNF) – “I just got too free through that right-hander, turn eight or nine, but we had a good car. I feel like our back-up car can be just as good. It was just a mistake on my behalf. We changed it a little bit before qualifying and I was trying to get back to the throttle too early. I felt like we had an okay lap going, but I just tried to get too much and didn’t have enough room once we got spun out.”
KASEY KAHNE – No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) – “So far we have a good run going there. It was a fast lap for our Budweiser Ford. The team has done a really nice job. The car has been fast since we started and it’s real similar to last year, so it’s nice to drive it. I feel like I used up most of the race track and really got all I could there. Who knows if it will stick, but it was a good lap.” HOW MUCH DOES CONFIDENCE COME INTO PLAY HERE? “I think it definitely helps. When you’ve won a race here, I think that definitely helps the next time you come back and it helps with the way your car is set up. We’ve learned from some of that stuff last year, so confidence is big everywhere in racing.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 9th) – “That was a rush. The car was really, really fast and had a lot of grip. I just missed a couple spots. I’m still shaking a little bit, but it is what it is. It’s a pretty good car. The car was handling so good that I got up on the curb in a few spots. It cut so good that I wasn’t expecting it, and I got up on the curb at the top of the esses, the early part at the top and that’s a lot of speed through there.”
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (Qualified 19th) – “We worked on race trim and that was really my first full lap in qualifying trim. It wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be, but it will be a starting spot and we’ll just go race. I think our plan will work. It’s what we have to do and we’ll make the best of it. It will be good.”
BORIS SAID – No. 26 Air National Guard Ford Fusion (Qualified 17th) – “It was like 75 percent the first half of the lap and then I bumped it up another 10 because I thought I was going too slow. That’s right what I was hoping for. I was hoping for a 17-flat or a 17.10 just to get us in and in the top 20, and I thought that would be a pretty good place to start. I’m happy. The California National Air Guard, we’re gonna be working on it tomorrow and try to be fast.” IF YOU’RE GOING TO WIN ONE OF THESE IT’S GOING TO BE HERE OR WATKINS GLEN, SO WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES? “Yeah, of course here or at the Glen. I mean, the closest I ever came was Daytona and who would have thought that. I love running here and I love being a part of this series and when you come here with a really fast Ford Fusion, it’s a good feeling.”