NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 21, 2013
TEAM CHEVY POST RACE RECAP – KANSAS SPEEDWAY
KASEY KAHNE AND JIMMIE JOHNSON LEAD TEAM CHEVY AT KANSAS
KANSAS CITY, KS (April 21, 2013) – With a second-place finish at Kansas Speedway; Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS, moved into the second position in the overall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS. It was Kahne’s sixth top-10 finish in 12 races at Kansas Speedway and his fifth top-10 finish of the 2013 season.
Johnson continues to lead the point standings following his third-place finish and 12th top-10 finish at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. The five-time NSCS champion now leads Kahne by 37 points after eight races in the 2013 season.
Other Team Chevy drivers scoring finishes in the top-15 today were: Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS – 7th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet SS – 10th; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Bad Boys Buggies Chevrolet SS – 12th; Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS – 13th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 Code 3 Associates Chevrolet SS – 14th; Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet SS – 15th.
Matt Kenseth (Toyota) was the race winner. Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota – 4th), Clint Bowyer (Toyota – 5th) rounded out the top-five finishers in today’s race.
The next race is at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 27th, 2013. Live coverage will be on FOX TV, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS – Finished Second
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS – Finished Third
KRISTI KING: We begin with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/ KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS who finished third in today’s STP 400. Jimmie is currently our point’s leader, 37 points ahead of our second place in the point’s standings, Kasey Kahne. Talk a little bit about the race out there today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, it’s hard to believe we’ve got a huge gap like that in the points already. Just very proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We’ve been off to a great year and even had some trouble at Bristol and didn’t finish as well as we did there and 37 points up on everybody is pretty awesome.
Last two days we’ve had a comfortable race car, but just didn’t have the speed in it for qualifying and for the fast lap time that you would see in practice sessions, the first lap out. But our car was comfortable over the long haul and we just kind of waited and hoped that the comfortable balance that I felt in the race car would be there come race time, and it was.
A strong performance, solid on pit road. I think Chad’s strategy today was flawless. About two stops from the end we started to get a little tight, and it was the first time I was tight so we probably didn’t react as much as we should have, just trying to be cautious because the car was so loose at other times in the race, and just lacked a little bit there at the end.
Q. All four of your cars were slow initially in the practices and in qualifying. Was it just that you kind of let the car come to you or did you guys have to make wholesale changes and what did you do to get competitive?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Man, there was a lot of changes going on through the practice sessions. I think the only car really happy was the No. 88. I think the No. 5 was optimistic, but the No. 24 and the No. 48, we made huge changes throughout the course of the weekend and couldn’t get the car to respond.
And then today we tried to make smart decisions and put a setup into the car that was very similar to a run that I made in practice that I liked so much and was as at least consistent, if not the fastest, but consistent. And then today, I guess everybody slowed down to our pace. I don’t know why or what, but today we were far more competitive than what we were yesterday or even on Friday.
Q. You’ve won here twice on the old track; Matt Kenseth is now 2 for 2 on the new track. What’s he got that everybody else doesn’t right now?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I didn’t realize that. Matt is good, and he always has been. He’s an awesome race car driver. He impresses me in his ability to lead the team and make adjustments on the car and his knowledge of the car. But more than anything inside the race car in finding that little bit more. The guy can do it and always has, and I’ve always been impressed with him. Sheer speed, and then when you get in traffic and making good decisions and knowing how to work traffic and race cars, it doesn’t surprise me to see the success that he’s having.
Q. Could this race track in particular, could there be a trick ‑‑
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, it’s weird because I have tracks that we go to and we’re the favorite there and we’re fortunate to win often, and I can’t tell you why. There’s places you show up to and compete and it fits your style as a driver and as a crew chief and race car and team, and everything just fits and goes. I wish there was a better reason behind it. But you can count on guys to run well at certain tracks, and it’s just that way.
Q. You said you’re going to be watching how the 2 team responded. I don’t know if you’re aware of all the adversity Keselowski had today, but he finishes sixth. Does that reaffirm what you said Friday, that that’s a championship caliber team?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I didn’t know the troubles they had. I could tell they were off sequence, but they had significant speed in their car and they’ve got some stuff stacked against them right now for sure, but they’re responding like I thought they would. Paul and Brad are a good combination and they’re both very good at what they do.
Q. I wanted to follow up on what you were talking about. When he moved from Roush to Joe Gibbs Racing, did you think that would make him more of a threat to win the title or any less?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It’s hard to say. I didn’t think much more about it. I didn’t think he would be more competitive. I thought it was kind of a lateral move. Both companies are very capable of winning championships.
When I saw him flying at Martinsville, I realized that the car had something to do with it at that particular track. He’s been on the record and told me time and time again he hates that place, and having passed me for the lead and take off, he certainly showed something there. But I probably mentioned it, too, in our preseason media gatherings, I really felt Matt would be somebody to worry about, and he’s proven that.
KRISTI KING: Now joining us is Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS, who finished second in today’s STP 400. Kasey now sits second in the point’s standings behind Jimmie, 37 points behind. Kasey, talk about your run out there today.
KASEY KAHNE: I felt really good. I thought we were pretty decent yesterday in practice, so today we started 28th and just had to really take our time. I felt the cars were really edgy at the start and took a while. But as the race went on we made some good adjustments, the track rubbered in pretty nicely and we made our way up to the front. It was a good race for us. We were very close at the end battling with Matt. Felt like Vegas all over again, just kind of felt like really similar to that in how I could catch him but couldn’t really do anything once I got close. It made my car a little bit looser. So tried a few things there, and he kind of blocked those spots and went those directions and gained the speed that I was, and then we were even again. It was tough, but we still had a great race. My team is doing an awesome job. It has be a lot of fun driving the cars and thanks to Farmers and Hendrick Motorsports for the great cars and the preparation each week.
Q. Start of the weekend and most of yesterday until I think happy hour, you guys, all four of the Hendrick cars, were slow. Were you surprised that you made it all the way up after starting off the weekend so poorly, and did you have to throw wholesale adjustments at the car to get it to where you were competitive for the victory?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, that was interesting because I felt good right when practice started. The times didn’t really show it. But I felt good, and then in qualifying the car felt completely different than what it had all of practice prior to that, and we qualified really slow. And then yesterday I felt really good again.
So we actually didn’t make a lot of changes. We made a lot of little stuff here and there to try to figure out the balance, and when the race started today I thought we were really close. Today we made just small adjustments throughout the race.
I felt like our speed was there all weekend but for some reason it didn’t show, but I felt like the speed in the car was there. I was happy with mine. Listening to Jimmie and Jeff, they weren’t yesterday, and today Jimmie was really fast, which I knew he would be and Jeff didn’t have the speed I thought he would have, and Dale was right there, as well. I was a bit surprised by some of that. But for our car I thought we were pretty close all weekend long.
Q. Kasey, I guess following up on how the Hendrick cars were all pretty slow and you rebounded today, does that show how you guys have that championship quality that when you guys are behind you guys can still put your heads together and get there?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think so. I think we all met yesterday and talked about things and things that worked and things that didn’t work. Some of us had more to talk about than others, so it was a really good debrief, and I think all of us took that and made the proper adjustments from there. It was a good team effort this weekend, and so far we’ve been able to run pretty strong, the 5 team at a lot of the tracks from Bristol to Martinsville to Vegas and here and things. I feel like we have a great team and we’re in a really good spot right now.
Q. The track today, was it the same, was it different from last October? If it was different, what was the difference?
KASEY KAHNE: I felt like it was really similar. When the race went green my car was edgy. If I over drove the entry it was super easy to get loose and the same on exit of the corner and the center of the corner depending on how hard you were pushing the pedals, and as the race went it rubbered in and you got more grip, but it was still slippery, and I think that’s just the tire. I’m pretty sure we’re racing on the same tire as we did the first race here, and it’s a hard tire in order to be durable enough to run the speeds we are running, and until we get to soften that tire up a little bit to where we have some more grip, I think it’ll just be edgy for a while. That’s just what it is.
Q. Kasey, were you waiting until the last lap? That restart you had a few laps to maybe give it a go. I wondered were you waiting until the end of the race, the last lap or so? If you had a move were you waiting until then?
KASEY KAHNE: You know, there was 40 to go I think on that restart, and I felt like I’m restarting fourth, I need to get to third, to second and to first as quickly as I possibly can, and I was able to get by Jimmie and then soon as I got to Truex I just got to the outside of him I went around him before he could block that move or anything, and then Kenseth was already gone. By the time I got to him it was late in the race. That’s not necessarily what I wanted. I hoped I could get there sooner when the tires were fresher and I had more overall grip. When I got to him I was sliding around a lot and so was he but it was hard to pass at that point in time kind of with this combination we’ve got of the tire and the track and the new surface. It’s really nice, but still really fast for our cars.
KRISTI KING: Kasey, congratulations on today. Thank you for your time.
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