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July 11, 2009

Jeff Gordon

Kasey Kahne


KERRY THARP: We'll go ahead and get started, roll into our post race press conference at Chicagoland Speedway. We're pleased to be joined by our third-place finisher in tonight's race. He jumps up to eighth now in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings. A great evening tonight for Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge. You had to feel good about tonight's performance, as the races in the Race to the Chase start to dwindle down.
KASEY KAHNE: We've been working really well together, our whole Budweiser team. Races like this, nights like this you can gain those points. Try to stay in that top 12. That's what it's all about, making the Chase. The guys had great pit stops tonight. They've been on a roll with that. The car was good from the drop of the green. We made some adjustments, kept trying to make it better. Those restarts at the end were tough. It was a battle. There were a lot of good cars battling. I think we got as far back as sixth on the restarts and worked back to second, then back to third with Jeff.
Fought hard against Jeff there at the end. I wanted to hold him off. I felt like we were better than him all night. He had some tires there and was better than us, ended up beating us. We battled hard. It was a good night.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Kasey Kahne.

Q. How much does the engine help? It seems if you're on the good side of the restarts, you love the restarts, and if you get shuffled, they suck. Where is your opinion on 'em?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, the engine, I mean, we got to compare it to the best tonight. We raced with Hendricks and the Gibbs, the 11, throughout the race. Every restart, every pass for position was against one of those guys. We still have some work to do. I think it was decent and we still have some work to do with those guys. My car handled great, you know, so I was happy about that.
The restarts, I like it. I still think it's a great change that NASCAR did. I lost some, I made some again. Same as every week. I lose three of the restarts and win three of the restarts. I don't know, 50% is not too bad.

Q. It seemed like for most of the night most of the guys were on cruise control. After that last restart, everybody went a little bit nuts. I know people were trying to win. What was the difference there?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think late in the race one guy makes one guy mad and it causes a reaction from that guy, then they get into another car, then another guy is smoking another guy sideways. Next thing you know, you have 10 guys that are fuming. You never know what's gonna happen. Some guys had tires, other guys didn't, so the speed was way different. I think it just created a lot of kind of chaos back on those restarts. That's excitement for the fans and kind of craziness for the drivers.

Q. How much of it was you maybe being more comfortable with this track, a lot of talk about it weathering in, people being able to race more. Was it an element of the track?
KASEY KAHNE: To me it was similar to what it was last year, last few years here. It's been wide. The pavement has been pretty white, pretty gray like it was. Gets rubbered up quick. You can race kind of all over the racetrack. To me it was similar.
We had our best car. I think I did the best job that I've done at Chicagoland Speedway. I've never raced that well here. It was a good night for us.
KERRY THARP: We're also joined at the podium by our race runner-up, Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont, also the National Guard Patriot, for Hendrick Motorsports. I believe Jeff is up to second in points right now.
Jeff, had to feel good about your performance out there this evening.
JEFF GORDON: Well, our performance overall was so-so. We definitely had a challenging night. We started off, our car was really good the first few laps, but then it got really tight. So we had to make some adjustments. Had a close call there with Carl. We lost a bunch of positions. It was basically just fighting back from that point on.
We got ourselves inside the top 10, which is still a great effort. Then, you know, the caution came out at the right time for Steve Letarte to make an excellent call to come and get four tires. The pit crew did its job getting us off basically first. At that point it was just trying to maneuver through the traffic. I was impressed, and I love the fact that we have a tire that you can make that decision on. The new tires were just unbelievable how I could shoot through those guys. Kasey and I raced real hard together. That stalled me out a little bit. But, hey, you're racing for positions there at the end, so you got to race hard, and we did.
Once I got to second, I don't think I really had anything for Mark until that caution came out. I thought I had a shot at it. He got a great jump and I spun the tires. Then it was trying to fight Kasey again for second. But a great 1-2 finish for us.
KERRY THARP: We'll open it up again for questions.

Q. Jeff, we heard a lot of comments tonight about the double-file restarts, the trouble they caused. What is your view? It's exciting in a lot of ways and hazardous, too. How do you see it now?
JEFF GORDON: I didn't expect anything any different when it was implemented. 50% of the guys out there are gonna like it, 50% of 'em are gonna hate it. It's not for us. It's for the people in the grandstands and the people at home. That's what it's for.
I think it's a great move. I think it changes how we have to race one another. You know, we have to pick and choose how aggressive we're gonna be, whether you're on the inside or outside. Sometimes one lane is better than the other. Tonight seemed like the inside lane was quite a bit better, except for Kasey.
You start 11th or 7th one time and shoot by two or three cars and then you'll be on the outside row the next one, get passed by two or three cars. To me it's always crazy on the double-file restarts. It's exciting, man. That's putting on a heck of a show.

Q. What did you see in the restart when it was Jimmie Johnson and Denny up ahead? Looked like Denny nudged him up to the high line. That's when the whole complexion of the race changed.
JEFF GORDON: You know, that was when we had our fresh tires. I got a great run off of turn two. I saw smoke and cars moving every which way. We were four-wide down the back straightaway. I had four tires, so I could drive it on the apron if I wanted to. And I did on the front straightaway to get by Jimmie and maybe it was Denny to his outside. I wasn't sure who it was.
Yeah, no, it looked like it was pretty crazy up there, but it worked good for me.
KERRY THARP: Guys, great show tonight. Enjoy your week off. We'll see you at Indy.

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