MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 14, 2018
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 95 PROCORE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Daytona 500 Media Day. Full Transcript:
YOU HAVEN’T MOVED AROUND MUCH IN YOUR CAREER. DOES THE DAY-TO-DAY JOB OF RACE CAR DRIVER HAVE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TIMELINE OF COMMITMENTS OF WHAT A TEAM EXPECTS OF YOU DOES THAT VARY FROM TEAM TO TEAM?
“Yeah, it definitely varies. It varies from team to team or sponsor to sponsor and year to year as well. It is always kind of moving because it’s changed for me each year even with the same teams or different team’s different sponsors or same sponsors. Yeah, you just never know exactly what will be asked of you or how your season will look from that side of things.”
HOW MUCH HAS TIME AT THE SHOP DWINDLED BECAUSE THERE IS MORE REQUEST FOR YOU TO BE IN FRONT OF TV CAMERAS AND DOING AUTOGRAPHS, ETC. WHAT PERCENTAGE HAS YOUR SHOP TIME DWINDLED?
“I would say it really hasn’t. I would say it’s pretty similar. I think when I first started there was as many requests probably as much as I’ve ever done those first few years at Evernham because he had so many sponsors and there was still a lot of… we were doing a lot of things away from the racetrack. You don’t see quite as much of that anymore. I would say those years were as busy as I was away from the track and I still got to the shop as much as I needed to. Today, you just about get to the shop if you want to go more times than not because they have all the people that can do everything better than what you can on the cars. So, you don’t really need to be there unless you are talking about set-up’s and things as far as experience and things that you have from certain tracks as you are looking into them to understand what you are getting ready to do.”
IS THERE ANYTHING CONTRACTUAL THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PUT IN TO BE ALLOWED TO SPRINT CAR RACE? OR IS THAT NOT AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS DOCUMENTED?
“I mean with what I have now I feel like to me it’s priority, the No. 95 is priority and when it’s not… when I don’t have anything to do there I can kind of do whatever I want. That works out well for me.”
IS DAYTONA A PLACE OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER THAT YOU HAVE BECOME MORE A FAN OF OR HAVE GOTTEN BETTER AT?
“Yeah, definitely gotten better at and definitely became more of a fan at as far as the races go and feeling like I have a much better opportunity, chance to finish the (Daytona) 500 than what I would have the first five or six years I was in it because you just learn little things over the years and hopefully don’t put yourself in as many bad position. Because the majority of the time you can’t control what happens, but somehow you got there, so, just trying to make little bit better decisions throughout the race to be in a better spot seems to help. Last year, I had all my restrictor plate tracks were actually really good throughout the whole season, so try to do that again.”
IS IT ALSO KIND OF THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING? SOME PEOPLE REALLY COME OUT HERE AND SAY THEY HATE RACING HERE…
“If you know you are going to wreck at Daytona, you are probably going to wreck. If you don’t like this place you are probably going to have a bad day. That is just the way it is, but I’ve actually always really liked racing here. But, now I feel more confident about finishing the actual race than I used to.”
HOW MUCH MORE OF AN ADVANTAGE IS RUNNING THE CLASH?
“Yeah, I mean we didn’t really get a pit stop out of it. We have things to work on, so we did it, but it wasn’t a real stop, but we still came down pit road. We still go that time. If the 150 was our first race together, first time setting up the pit box, first time coming down pit road, first time working with the spotter during a race, crew chief during a race that wouldn’t be as good. We definitely learned a lot from Sunday and we will be better prepared for Thursday because of that.”
DO YOU DO SOMETHING TO ACTIVELY BOND WITH A NEW CREW CHIEF?
“Just open conversation. Try to talk, try to understand what they are thinking, what I’m thinking. You can get to kind of where you guys are pretty quick it seems like when you start talking about certain racetracks and ways of thinking for those particular tracks. I think going to Vegas and testing there, having those two days and then coming back and kind of looking at what we did and what made sense to them, what made sense to me, you know pretty quick if you are going to be on the same page or not. I think so far, it’s been pretty good. But, we definitely need to keep working hard and trying to make sure that we understand each other really well.”
DO YOU GO TO DINNER?
“We’ve gone to dinner a couple of times, but we had kids with us, so it’s like that doesn’t count because it’s more about them and watching them and things as it goes. But, it still counts as spending time and liking someone and enjoying their families and being around and things like that, that helps also.”
HOW HAS THE ADJUSTMENT GONE WITH THE NEW TEAM?
“It’s been going pretty good. There is definitely a lot of differences and things that I’m trying to learn as I go and they are trying to learn about me. There was a lot going on last week with two cars. You get one driving a little better so you have to do it to the other car, but you don’t have time. It was a lot thrown at that team for those two, three days. Now we are down to one car and for here the rest of the year. They were worn out after The Clash because there was so much going on. I feel like that we learned a lot each one of us and we will apply it starting tomorrow afternoon and keep getting better.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OR OBSTACLE GOING FROM THE NO. 5 TO THE NO. 95?
“I mean I don’t really know yet. It’s still pretty fresh. But, to this point, there really hasn’t been any challenges. To this point the guys have done a nice job and my car, everything has felt just how I would want it to feel as far as where I sit and the things that I hold on to. So, everything has been pretty simple up to this point. I think as this season goes, as we start racing and the pressure turns up, then that is probably where we will find some more challenges, but at this point it hasn’t been bad at all.”
WHAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND LEAVINE FAMILY RACING THE SIZE OF THE TEAM?
“That, the size of the team is probably the main difference. I mean the size of the company. The size of the team. To get a race car to the track is a completely different way of doing it. I’m perfectly fine with it, but it’s just a completely different way of doing it.”
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AT THE TEAM?
“I think we have like 26 that are part of the race car side. I think 25 or 26 somewhere in there. Part of the competition side.”
“Well you know we have an alliance with RCR, so we can still talk to Austin (Dillon) and Ryan (Newman) and kind of see things they are doing, but yeah, we don’t have that direct teammate in the shop type feel. I don’t know if I will miss that or not. I think once we get racing I will understand kind of where that is because I haven’t really been on a single car team ever. I will learn that more as we go. At this point I haven’t missed it and I still feel like we have that alliance power to look at other things if we need to. But yeah, once we get out to the West Coast and running those races, then I think I will learn a lot more like ‘man I wish I had Chase Elliott to go and talk to or this or that.’ But, I don’t know, I have that with other guys, so we will see.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS COULD SURPRISE SOME PEOPLE THIS YEAR?
“Yeah, I mean that is my plan. I feel like we have a… Travis (Mack, crew chief) for one is someone who knows a lot about the race cars and has been working on them for a long time and I feel like he is going to give me great race cars and then our engineers are really solid. Yeah, I think we can definitely run up to our expectations, I feel like that will surprise a lot of people and I really feel like we will be able to run up to our expectations throughout the season.”
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
“I think Daytona we want to win. You come to Daytona and every car here feels like they really probably have a great shot at winning this race if things go their way and they make the right decisions. That is how I feel about Daytona. I don’t feel like I will be any slower on Sunday than I’ve ever been. To me, I have just as good of a shot as I’ve ever had at this race. I look forward to having that. As far as once we get to Atlanta and Vegas, like I think it’s hard to set expectations on like your actual finishing results until you kind of see where you stack up and then you work from there. My big thing to me is just working together as a team and always, whatever we are learning, we are applying the next week to suit me and to make the No. 95 better for me. If we are doing that throughout the whole season we are going to meet our expectations. I just don’t know really where is that? I don’t know until we get going and then from that point, we just always want to keep coming up the ladder, in my opinion.”
ON THE RCR ALLIANCE AND TALKING WITH DIFFERENT DRIVERS:
“Well, one things I’ve learned over the years is when you have … you can have what they say is the same equipment, same cars and you can make the same change and Jimmie Johnson can say the exact opposite of what I say about that change. So, to me, just having guys to talk to and think about stuff, I mean that helps, it can’t hurt, but if you have confidence in yourself and confidence in what you are getting ready to do and what you want to do then you have to do it your way. If you go and try to copy Austin Dillon’s driving style, if I go try to copy him it won’t go as good as what Austin Dillon does. So, and you know you get pushed into those ways sometimes with bigger teams with engineers and crew chiefs and things. They will try to push you in those directions and that is one of the things that probably hurt me more than anything over my career. I think you have to have confidence in yourself, you have to do it your way and if you can look at other things and get an idea of what other fast cars are doing and that is what I had with Chase (Elliott) or Jimmie (Johnson) or Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) those guys are fast. At certain times, they are really fast, so you can look at it and get a good idea of what is going on, but if you go and just drive like that, your car is not going to work. They drive it and set-up their car around their driving style. There is just a lot that goes into that and trying to understand it and use it the right way. Use your teammates, use your alliances in the right way that doesn’t actually hurt what you are trying to do.”
HOW HARD IS IT TO HAVE THAT CONFIDENCE AND NOT BE ABLE TO HAVE SOMETHING TO BOUNCE IT OFF OR DOUBLE CHECK?
“So, having the owners that I have now and the things that they have told me is that this is all we are doing it for me. We are doing it to suit my driving style, to suit what I do and the way that I look at each race track. Having that confidence from them gives me the confidence to say ‘hey this is what we’ve got to do and this is the only way it’s going to work’. If we do it ‘that’ way, it will be alright, but it’s not going to work as well because that is not how I actually drive the car.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE WHEN MARTIN TRUEX WENT TO A DIFFERENT TEAM HE KIND OF REBRANDED HIMSELF AND REJUVENATED HIM?
“So, I think it rebranded him, and he built confidence in himself because he was doing it his way and the way that he got there. The ways that it worked for him and Martin Truex is unbelievable now, but he does it his way.”
COULD IT WORK THE SAME WAY FOR YOU?
“I want it to happen for me. I’m going to do everything I possibly can to have the best season that I’ve had this year and next year and move on from there. Yeah, absolutely.”
DO YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO HELP MAKE THAT HAPPEN?
“Yeah, I think we have the resources.”
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