NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
KOBALT TOOLS 400
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 10, 2013
Chevy drivers take five of the top 10 Spots at Las Vegas;
Kahne dominates much of the race and finishes second
LAS VEGAS - (March 10, 2013) – Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, led 114 of the 267 laps that made up the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today, but was not able to make it back to the point after restarting seventh on the final restart. Kahne came home second and posted his fifth top-ten finish in ten races at Las Vegas. It was his first top-10 finish of 2013, and he moved from 31st to 14th in the overall point standings.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, had another solid performance as he came home sixth after running in the top-five for most of the day and leading 66 laps. Johnson has finished first, second and sixth to start the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and leads the point standings after three events so far this year.
Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, finished seventh today and sits third in the overall point standings.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet SS, started eighth and finished ninth while his Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard scored his first top-ten finish of 2013 in the Menards/Schrock Chevrolet SS.
Finishing just outside the Top 10 were Tony Stewart, No. 14 MOBIL 1 Racing/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS in 11th and Jamie McMurray, No. 1 McDonalds Chevrolet SS was 13th.
Matt Kenseth (Toyota) was the race winner, Brad Keselowski (Ford) finished third, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fourth, and Carl Edwards (Ford) was fifth, to round out the top five.
The series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next week for the Food City 500 on Sunday, March 17.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND:
KERRY THARP: Joining us now also is our race runner‑up, and that's Kasey Kahne. He drove the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey, you certainly had a car that looked like could win the race, led a lot of laps, passed people, you were fast. Just talk about how things went out there today for you, and I know you're trying to track down that 20 there the last few laps.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, started of the race pretty good, was a little bit too loose, and Kenny Francis and Keith (Rodden, engineer) , they made great calls to tighten the car up and get it driving perfect, and from there on it was about making the right pit calls and the pit stops were good. I just had an awesome car. It felt about perfect, I think, throughout three quarters of that race.
There at the end we had two cycles on left sides, and I just got kind of ‑‑ Matt did everything right. That's when I caught him, I was like, man, this is not the guy you want to have to race with 10 to go because he's going to do everything right. You're going to have to figure out how to squeeze by him. And you know he had a fast car, too, so it was difficult. He did a perfect job and we came back second. But still a good run. I think we were seventh maybe after that one restart and fought back to second, so we had a great car, did everything right. We just didn't quite get there.
Q. I don't know if you saw Kyle take a line under the white line. Did you ever consider making that move to try to overtake Matt?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I saw that, the problem was Matt was doing that. That's what he was doing. So I could follow him and kind of stay in his draft a little bit and stick with him about the same amount, and when I didn't do that, he would pull away. So it was definitely faster down there if you got a good run off turn four to do that down the front straightaway. So yeah, he did that so I would have had to go through the grass, and I didn't want to do that.
Q. Kasey, Matt didn't take any tires in the last pit stop, and he actually told his team with about 10 laps to go that he thought he'd blown the race. Did you think at some point you were going to overtake him because of that?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I really thought I was, but I just felt like I could have got there, you know, the way the car handled throughout the race and how I could turn down in the center of the corner and carry a ton of speed doing it. I felt really confident, that when I got to him I'd be able to do that again like I had raced with Kyle (Busch) and Jimmie (Johnson) earlier in the race. And when I got to Matt I couldn't do it, so I was trying to brake in and mess with anything that I could, lift early, lift late, try it all, and just couldn't find a way past him.
So he just did a really good job of keeping his momentum up, keeping his speed. He was cutting across me off the corner. We were kind of tight, loose and he just put up a great battle and pulled it off on told tires, did a good job.
Q. Kasey, there was a lot of criticism coming into this week about the new car, seemed like they were pretty racy out there, a lot of guys moving up through the field. Could I get your impressions on the new car?
KASEY KAHNE: My car drove good. I felt like I could pass, I could race underneath the car, do things that maybe I wouldn't have been able to do in the past. First time on a mile and a half with this new Gen‑6 car, and I would say to have the same tires ‑‑ this is the same tire, also, which we didn't have last week, which was a big part of the Phoenix deal.
I think the car itself today was ‑‑ I had a lot of fun driving it, and I thought it was a heck of a race. I got to race through cars, traffic and battle for the lead four, five, six times. I felt really confident with our Chevy SS.
Q. We had the restrictor plate at Daytona, we had the kind of unconventional layout at Phoenix. Some races just look visibly fast watching it. Today looked like a bunch of guys that had kind of been cut loose. Did it feel like that out there today because it just looked fast?
KASEY KAHNE: I wasn't surprised by the pace because of the practice speeds, and the pace that we could run there for 10 or 15 laps, depending on how long we stayed out in practice. Today with it being hotter and a little bit slicker, like Brad said, I thought it was a lot of fun. I mean, you could get a little bit loose and not have to like call it quits and get on the brakes and onto the gas and all that, you could just kind of drive through it and ease back on the throttle. It was exciting. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed driving the car today and thought the pace was up. I've never had great cars here, I've had some pretty good ones, but today I've never driven that hard for 267 laps before, either.
Q. Kasey, oddly on the final laps you and Kenseth are chasing each other and you've got a deal with the lap traffic in front of you. Who's got the spotter communication? Are you listening to it in the car and urging them? What's going on with both parties in terms of the communication on that stretch run?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, for myself I'm just kind of paying attention to what's Matt's doing and what I need to do and where I need to place my car in order to try to get a run on him and at least get beside him and see what can happen from there. As far as the spotters, Matt's spotter is probably trying to talk to a few of the guys that we were lapping saying, hey, give us some space, whatever. I was hoping maybe they'd run Matt's line and he'd have to go to the bottom and I thought maybe I could get a run that way. I think we eased through six or seven lap cars there and most of them went to the bottom and you could pass them fairly easy. It wasn't too bad. It didn't slow Matt up at all, which I was hoping someone at some point would slow him up a touch, but it never happened.
Q. How important are the restarts at this point because the last two restarts looked very, very hairy, and to hear everybody say that they want to be in clean air, obviously there's an advantage up there. Can we expect some of the best action now to be coming out of the restarts?
KASEY KAHNE: I felt like the ‑‑ I thought restarts last year meant a lot, and if you didn't get a good restart you'd lose those spots and it would take 40 laps before you could get back by that guy. I thought similar today everybody was trying to push a little bit, slow up, get a bump on the straightaway. Matt about crashed doing that, he spun his tires or tried to wait for Carl a little bit. But he had him completely sideways and in front of us. I think it's big, to try to get through (turns) one and two as quick as you can and get position on another car is key. If you can do that and get one or two spots, you're making it a lot easier on yourself for the next 40, 50 laps of that race run.
Q. We've had three very different tracks so far. Next week we go to another one, Bristol. Have you guys had much practice on the half-mile and do you have a feel for how this car is going to race on a short track?
KASEY KAHNE: I haven't.
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