Q and A: With Kahne And Frye
Kasey Kahne suddenly left Richard Petty Motorsports this week and it was quickly announced that he would join Red Bull Racing – the team for which he will driver full time next season –for the final five races of the 2010 season.
Kahne and Red Bull general manager Jay Frye met with the media do discuss the situation Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway, site of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.
What follows is a complete transcript of that press conference:
Question: How excited are you to have Kasey Kahne join the team for the final five races?
Jay Frye: “Obviously, a lot of things happened this week and obviously we’re very excited to get a head start on the 2011 season. This was something we obviously didn’t anticipate happening but it did and we couldn’t be more happy about it.”
Q: What is the team’s outlook for 2011?
Frye: “We’re still monitoring Brian’s (Vickers) health and his situation. So far everything seems really good. Our plan is to have two cars. Obviously in that situation, we have too many drivers. Then we have to figure out what to do. At this point, we continue to monitor Brian (Vickers) and his health, we continue to monitor Scott (Speed) and his performance, so we’ll know more on that soon. A lot of it is dependent on Brian (Vickers) and his health.”
Q: What is the crew chief situation with Kasey Kahne this weekend?
Frye: “We continue to evolve, add depth, get bigger and everything. If you remember a couple years ago with Kevin Hamlin, he did a great job with the 83 and we brought Ryan Pemberton (crew chief, 83) in, we moved Kevin into a different role within the company and it’s made our company stronger. We’re over the next couple of weeks going to evaluate where we’re at with people. There’s nothing imminent on anything right now. We’re excited that Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) is working with Kasey (Kahne) this weekend. Jimmy did a great job when he came over a couple years ago to get AJ (Allmendinger) going and then with Scott (Speed) and getting him up to speed too. We’ve got some really, really good people and it’s our job to find places and roles for them within the organization.”
Q: How were you able to get the contracts between Aric Almirola and Kasey Kahne handled so quickly?
Frye: “I don’t know that either of us is qualified to answer that, especially those of us on the Red Bull side because we weren’t involved in that piece of the puzzle at all. Our circumstances that it is that we have a car that’s available that we were using development guys or replacement drivers, which I would also like to thank Reed Sorenson, Reed did a great job for us. We were very pleased with what he did and gave a great effort. So on our behalf we were just kind of waiting and this is a great thing for us to get started on 2011 with Kasey (Kahne), but the contracts and all that worked between the team. We weren’t privy to that.”
Q: Have you told Scott Speed that he is released for next year?
Frye: “We’ve said this for some time now that there’s performance clauses within his contract and again, we don’t really get into contract discussions. Our plan right now is to have two cars. We’re monitoring Brian’s (Vickers) health and it appears to be on course and doing great. Again, we’re also monitoring Scott (Speed) and his performance, where he’s at and what’s going to happen next. We’re going to end up having, at this point, two cars and possibly three drivers. At that point, decisions will have to be made. It’s not necessarily the case that decisions have been made yet.”
Q: What are you hoping to get out of this one year and five race alliance with Kasey Kahne?
Frye: “Our expectations are surely aligned with Kasey’s (Kahne). The questions earlier about the pre-Madonna and the no effort and that type of thing – if anybody has ever been to Kasey Kahne Racing, you see this kid and his DNA is a race car driver. It’s what he does and we couldn’t be more excited and happy to have him for the final five and for 2011. We’re going to make every effort to go compete for a championship. Win races, get in the Chase and go compete for a championship. Last year we got in the Chase, won a race, six poles or whatever and we surely think we can do that and then some. So we have very high expectations.”
Question: How excited are you for this new opportunity?
Kahne: “I’m excited. It’s a big change for myself. I’ve been doing really the same thing for six and a half years. To make a change like this is — it’s new people, it’s new cars, manufacturer, sponsor — everything is different. It’ll be a big change for myself. Just starting to work with new people, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to next year and now we have a little bit quicker start on that. I was with the guys yesterday putting seats in the cars and just trying to get prepared as well as we could for today and for this weekend. The atmosphere and the excitement up at Red Bull right now, it’s nice to be part of that. I’m looking forward to the last five races and getting started this weekend.”
Q: How did the decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports come about?
Kahne: “Really, to me I was leaving. I was going on starting next year and it made sense for RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) to start working on their things for next year and for myself to get with the Red Bull guys at this point. It’s kind of a jump start on next year, is what I see it as. That’s the biggest thing. It’s been kind of a crazy week. There’s been a lot of different things going on and maybe different opinions on what happened or what’s going to happen and that kind of stuff. I’m looking forward to this weekend and I’m happy that I’m in the Red Bull car. Hopefully, I can work well with this group of guys and go pretty fast at times.”
Q: Are you still owed money from Richard Petty Motorsports?
Kahne: “On that side, I’m paid up to date from RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports). I’m paid up to date. They’ve met their commitments there and that’s been really good that they have. I thank them for that.”
Q: Are you relieved to leave Richard Petty Motorsports?
Kahne: “I don’t know if it’s relief, but it’s my future and it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to was next year. We get started a little bit earlier. Last weekend, Saturday night, to have a problem like we had on lap 30, that just doesn’t happen at a track that you don’t use very much brake at. And then to happen before. We’d had things go on throughout the season. At that point in time, it was difficult and I think the timing of all this made sense. It was nice for me when it happened and I think it’s good for RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) when it happened.”
Q: What have you heard about the status of Richard Petty Motorsports?
Kahne: “I’ve heard a lot. I think everybody has. It’s just speculation. I think it’s a lot of talk. For me, I certainly hope that RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) keeps rolling. I hope that they finish out this season and put together another great season next year. That’s what I want them to do. I want that team to keep going. There’s a lot of good people there that deserve to have job and deserve to be working on these race teams. For me, I hope they keep rolling for sure. You’d have to ask RPM about some of the other stuff to get the right answers because I think a lot of it could just be speculation.”
Q: What have you heard about the financial situation at Richard Petty Motorsports?
Kahne: “I’ve been able to stay out of it and start working on the Red Bull side. I’ve talked to Kenny (Francis, former crew chief) and talked to the guys there, but as far as that stuff goes, I really have stayed out of it, so I’m not sure on that.”
Q: How were you released from Richard Petty Motorsports and will Kenny Francis (former crew chief) join you this year?
Kahne: “It was a mutual release and for me, I think that’s a good thing for both sides. They’re happy about it and we’re happy about it. On the Kenny Francis thing, he’s gonna stay there throughout the rest of the year. That’s his deal and next year he’ll come over to Red Bull. He’s gonna stay there and I’m gonna work with Jimmy Elledge (crew chief) the rest of this year and I look forward to it. I think it should be fine.”
Q: How do you respond to a driver calling you a ‘prima donna’ after Charlotte?
Kahne: “On the things that have happened in the past, that’s the past and we’ve gotten through them. I’ve worked hard to get through them. Everybody has that’s worked for Evernham, Gillett, RPM, that was part of it that time. I don’t know who the driver was, but it’s what happened. I put a commitment in. Anyone that questions my commitment doesn’t know me very well and doesn’t know how much I love this sport and how much I put into racing. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that puts as much in it as I do throughout a week. Some guys may, some guys may not. I feel like I do everything I do to make myself the best I can be and we kept having problems. And I was sick to my stomach. It was time for me to just call it a day and that’s what I did. I’m happy I did it and ready to go onto this weekend.”
Q: How did this situation come about this week?
Kahne: “It just started Monday and we just put it together and got it figured out and we went our separate ways. I think there’s a lot of things on both sides that made it make sense. For me, next year’s going to be, it’s one year and it’s going to be a short year and I’m happy to be prepared and get prepared a little bit early, knowing a little more about the company, about the cars, the engines and the things that I’m going to be driving next year. I want to come out and win next year and the only way to do that is to be prepared and get off to a great start at the start of the season. Hopefully this will help in some of that and we will be a little quicker when we start at Daytona.”One Comment