KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) Finished 1st
“Really, really a special race, special weekend. We were there all night. We put our Budweiser Dodge where it needed to be. The pit stops were great. The pit calls by Kenny (Francis, team director) and Chad (Johnston, race engineer) were awesome. Everything was great all night. We were better on four tires than we were on two or no tires. But we were still pretty good on those. Dale Jr. (Earnhardt) was strong. Tony (Stewart) was strong. Kyle Busch was strong. There were some good race cars out there. We were back and forth with all of them. (It was) The right call for right sides there. If Kenny wouldn’t have made that call, we may have had a problem, too. I was thinking second. I saw Tony slow up. I thought he was out of gas. At that point I couldn’t believe it. From there, I just tried to hit my marks and make sure I brought it home.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THIS WEEKEND AND LAST WEEKEND HAS CHANGED OTHER TEAMS’ PERCEPTION OF YOUR TEAM? “It has to change it a lot. I mean, you race with them each week and you race each other a certain way, and you race each other for the speed of your car, the way that each guy drives. When your speed gets up, I think that makes other people race you a little bit different. It makes them think a little bit different. How that is, I don’t know. I know that when I’m racing with Tony or certain people, you just think different on each guy and how fast they are, what you need to do to pass them. I think it changes the mindset on a lot of people and says, ‘Hey, this Gillett Evernham team is stepping up and they’re getting to be where we want to be, that’s for sure.’ I think it’s really good.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR KARMA HAS CHANGED FOR YOU? “I don’t know. I definitely have smiled a lot more the last couple weeks. As far as karma or whatever, I don’t know. I feel like we try hard to run up front. If I can’t win races, I’m pretty upset. It’s been a little while. Yeah, since last Saturday night, I haven’t been such a bear, I guess. I’ve been a little bit nicer to my girlfriend, to my family. I try to be anyways. It’s difficult at times. But, you know, I think I’ve changed there a little bit and been a little bit better there, just more excited to come to the track. I’m always excited to get in a race car, that’s for sure. I try to win and try to run as hard as I can. Coming into this weekend, I knew, regardless if we got to practice or not, I knew our car would be good tonight. I just felt that. I felt like Kenny knew where we needed to be. We didn’t make too many changes in practice. We pretty much started with the setup Kenny started with, and it was that close. It’s nice to work with Kenny Francis. ”
YOU’RE BACK IN THE TOP-12 IN POINTS, DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A CHASE CONTENDER? “Yeah, I definitely see myself and our whole Budweiser team. We have the team to do it, that’s for sure. These guys, they work as hard as any team. They’re as good and as smart as any team out there. We just need to keep working together and communicating, focusing on each track that we come to. So, yeah, I mean, tonight was great for points. I’m glad to hear I’m back in the top 12. That was the goal at the start of the year. I mean, obviously, we want to win races, but the main goal is to be in the top 12 with 10 races to go. That’s what every team out here wants to do. We definitely do, too. We just have to keep working hard on finishing and making sure we get points every single week.”
YOU’VE WON THE LONGEST RACE TWO TIMES IN THREE YEARS. YOU’VE WON BACK-TO-BACK RACES AT LOWE’S. IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT IS PARTICULARY GOOD FOR YOU? “I don’t necessarily know. I know that we’ve always been good here.
I don’t know if it’s our Dodge Chargers or what it is. We’ve been fast since 2004 when I started driving for Ray (Evernham) and the Gillett’s. I enjoy this track. It is my favorite track now. Atlanta has been my favorite. Now Charlotte is, after last week and this week. I think a track that you win a lot at, you have to take as your favorite. This is by far the track we’ve won the most at. So, man, I don’t really know. I know what I want a car to feel like at a track. I know when we test, when we run in practice, the things I tell Kenny (Francis) so we can get the car to feel the way I want it to. For some reason the way I want it to feel works out well here. Obviously, Tony (Stewart) is good here, Dale Jr., Jimmie Johnson. They must have a feel for this place, too. I think you figure out what you want to feel. If that’s fast at that race track when you get it, then you’ll be fast. Maybe what I want to feel at other tracks isn’t quite as fast and maybe that’s why we don’t win at those tracks.”
KENNY FRANCIS (Team Director, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger)
“We had a really good car all night. I think that we led quite a few laps and were pretty happy with the car. Tony (Stewart) was just a tick better at the end than we were. I’m not sure–Kasey (Kahne) didn’t say anything about the car the last 100 laps, so I’m not really sure where we were on that. It seemed like it was going to come down to a gas-and-go situation at the end and I knew how much gas we needed to take. I knew how much (gas) Tony had to take. I knew that he had us beat on gas, so I just made sure that I was going to get enough gas in it to finish the race because he definitely had us beat on pit road time. So we did that and had plenty of cushion to third (place) and put ourselves in a position to take advantage when, unfortunately, Tony had problems.”
RAY EVERNHAM (Co-owner, Gillett Evernham Motorsports)
“As I said last week, sometimes it just takes one thing to get some momentum going. These guys, they’re winners. They’ve won a lot of races for me in the past. They seem to be clicking again. There are decisions made throughout a race sometimes that end up having an effect at the outcome. That decision that was made at around lap 75 or 76 to go that these guys made to put the right side tires on, give up the track position at that time, ended up being a key factor in the race because it was just a little bit too far to run on right side tires.
“Like Kenny said, Tony’s car was a little bit better than ours at the end, he needed a little bit less gas. If you keep putting yourself in position to win, you know, sooner or later you’re going to win. That’s what these guys are doing. Now they’ve got momentum and I’m just really proud of ‘em for being in Victory Lane here.”
GEORGE GILLETT JR. (Co-owner, Gillett Evernham Motorsports)
“Officially I’d like to thank the three gentlemen to my right, Kasey (Kahne), Kenny (Francis) and Ray (Evernham). This has been a heck of a team effort. There really was a turning point, in my opinion. It was the fans. When the fans voted Kasey in last weekend, it changed everything. Then Kenny and Kasey had a great car. Ray’s genius really showed. So thanks to the fans because it really came out of them.”
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger) Finished 8th
“It was a real good night for our Best Buy Dodge Charger and Gillett Evernham Motorsports race teams. This was a great rebound race for the 19 team because it proves that we can come back and run with these guys out here.
We made some great adjustments there at the end that gave us good track position with about 100 laps to go. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) made some great calls on pit road and the Best Buy Dodge crew did a fantastic job all day and night on pit stops. We made up a lot of points which will help us in the standings. The 600 is a really long race and to bring home a top-10 feels great.
“I’m thrilled for Kasey (Kahne) and the No. 9 team on battling all night and winning the (Coca-Cola) 600. (Kasey) was fast all night and certainly deserved to win the race. Overall, tonight was a great confidence booster for the Best Buy Dodge team and Gillett Evernham Motorsports and should give us a lot of confidence heading into Dover next weekend.”
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Honey Nut Cheerios/Trix, Lucky Charms Dodge Charger) Finished 11th
“Early on, we were a lap down on lap 62. We were at the tail end being a lap down, almost two laps down and we got a lucky break with the caution coming out. That kept us one lap down and Jeff (Meendering, crew chief) made a great call to get our lap back. We stayed OK after that, but track position meant so much all night. We had to put tires on the car some point and that cost us some spots and dropped us to 11th.
It was tough because we wanted to stay out (on the same tires) but they give you a false sense of hope. You’re never really sure about them (tires) and we decided to pit and put new tires on and try to get us a top-10 finish. We’ll take it.”
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil Dodge Charger) Finished 13th
“The first stop we didn’t take any tires and the car got really, really loose and there was a couple of times later on in the night that they asked if we wanted to do no tires and I said there’s no way we’re doing that again because I about put it in the wall about 10 times and it was a big handful. I’m just real happy that I didn’t and I got an opportunity to race it out. It took me seven times to finish the Indy 500 on the lead lap or to finish all the miles and I was able to so this on the first try and I’m real happy about that because the guys on the tam have worked real hard. We just saw the owner’s points and we’re still out by three, but we’re going to keep working away at it. We feel like we’ve had some pretty good performances over the last couple of weeks. We’re heading in the right direction. If we go to Dover and keep ourselves out of trouble, we should be good.”
PAT TRYSON (Crew-Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) Finished 16th
“Our Miller Lite Dodge was real good before the right front tire went down. We led a bunch of laps (64 laps) and really liked our race car early on in the race. But once the right tire let loose, we had to fix a bunch of stuff and just didn’t have the race car we needed to get back inside the top-10. We had to adjust the front splitter and just got behind all night and couldn’t run fast laps after the tire incident. We could stay the same, but just couldn’t run better on new tires and that hurt us there at the end.”
PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 10 LifeLock Dodge Charger) Finished 37th
“Just a tough couple of weeks; we never got it, never even close, and I was loose, way loose, way loose. I knew the top line was faster, but when you’re loose like that you go sideways and there’s nowhere to go but in the wall, so I had a safety margin. Keith (Barnwell, spotter) said run high and I ran high, but it just snapped on me and it was back into the wall. The car was really unstable going into the corner and I almost lost it quite a few times. It was a long couple of weeks. I can’t wait to get out and get back on the road.”
ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge Charger) Finished 43rd
“It looks like we dropped a valve in the motor. Gillett Evernham has provided us with really good motors all year long, so this is a surprise. I’ve got a lot of faith in them (Gillett Evernham Motorsports) finding out what went wrong and figure out what exactly caused the problem in the motor. I know they’ll get it fixed for next time. It’s going to hurt us in the point’s standings big time. It’s disappointing because I really like how our Jim Beam Dodge was running most of the race. We were able to pass some cars and get up into 16th on the first run. And then there on the last run I was going back by guys, so it’s disappointing to have a racecar so good and out of the race this early.”