Transcript: Rick Hendrick and Kasey Kahne press conference Ė April 14, 2010
TRANSCRIPT: Rick Hendrick and Kasey Kahne Teleconference
DATE: April 14, 2010
- RICK HENDRICK Ė OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
- KASEY KAHNE Ė DRIVER OF THE NO. 5 CHEVROLET IN 2012
- JESSE ESSEX Ė EVENT MODERATOR
OPERATOR: Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Hendrick Motorsports Teleconference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode, and later weíll conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require assistance during todayís conference, please press * then 0 on your Touch-Tone telephone. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would like to introduce your host for today, Mr. Jesse Essex. Sir, you may begin.
JESSE ESSEX: Thank you, George. We appreciate everybody joining us today. Iíd like to take a quick moment to welcome all the listeners on SIRIUS NASCAR radio, who are tuning in. On the call this afternoon is Rick Hendrick, Owner of Hendrick Motorsports, along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver, Kasey Kahne. Mr. Hendrick is calling in from his office at Hendrick Motorsports in Concord, N.C., and Kaseyís joining us from Scottsdale, Ariz. Thank you, both for your time.
And for those members of the media covering the Texas race, we want to note that Kasey will be available at the racetrack Friday, as will Mark Martin. Those details will be posted.
It was officially announced this morning that Kasey will drive the Hendrick Motorsportís No. 5 Chevrolet, beginning with the 2012 Sprint Cup season. Mr. Hendrick, obviously a big announcement. In the news release, you described this as an unbelievable opportunity for Hendrick Motorsports. Could you expand on that and talk a little about what Kasey brings to the organization?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, you know, when we, when you look at Kaseyís record and 11 wins and 16 poles and just turned 30 years old, heís one of the all ready stars of our sport, but got a lot of years left ahead of him. And knowing that Mark was wanting to retire after the 2011 season, we just looked at this as a golden opportunity for our organization to pick up such a great talent, but also a guy that just all of our drivers had, independently, solicited me to, that I should try to go after. And, you know, the way he fits with our organization and our drivers, I think itís going to be a, itís a golden opportunity for us. And itís an investment in our future because of Kaseyís age. So weíre just real excited about having him become part of a deal.
JESSE ESSEX: Thank you, Mr. Hendrick. Kasey, this has been an extremely important process for you personally and professionally. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and what ultimately brought you to this decision?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, I just, you know, Iíve had a, Iíve never been in this position before. Iíve never been in a situation where Iím talking to other teams, and looking at my future and thinking about that until this year. And itís been really eye opening, and Iíve had a really good time meeting with a lot of the people in the sport, and Iíve learned a lot. And just to get the relationship with Mr. Hendrick and have the opportunity to go and drive the 5 car in the future is just an awesome opportunity for myself. And Iím really excited. Iím really excited to have it done with now, announced and can really just focus on the rest of my year and my commitment with Budweiser and Richard Petty Motorsports and my team there, and just try to win some races there. But, you know, the futureís, Iím excited. I think itís the best opportunity I could ever have, and Iím just going to make the most out of it. And I feel like the drivers there, the crew chiefs, the people that work for Hendrick Motorsports, I think it will just be a great fit. You know, I really like those guys. I enjoy them and think that, you know, I can learn a lot from them, and look forward to all that.
JESSE ESSEX: Thanks, Kasey. At this time, Iím going to turn the teleconference over to our OPERATOR, George, who will open the floor to questions from the media.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen at this time if you wish to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your Touch-Tone telephone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in the queue. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question, please press * then 1. One moment, as participants queue up. Ladies and gentlemen, once again if you have a question, please press * then 1. Our first question comes from Tom Jensen from Speed. Your line is open.
TOM JENSEN: Hi, I think you meant Tom Jensen. Mr. H., congratulations on the signing. Is there any chance that in 2011 you might to help Dale Earnhardt, Jr. get the JR Motorsports Team moved up to the Cup level and put Kasey over there?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, we have not gotten into any particulars yet. Everything is brand new. You know, weíre focused, Kasey had enough faith in our organization to sign a multi-year deal, and weíre just, itís kind of a unique animal that we know what weíre going to do come í12, but right now we havenít locked in on what weíre going to do in í11 yet. And there are just a ton of options, and weíre going to, no decisionís been made yet, Don.
TOM JENSEN: Just a quick follow up to that. Is it, when do you need to have a time table to make a decision about 2011? Can it go several months, or is it something that you need to wrap up quickly?
RICK HENDRICK: No, I donít, you know, again, I donít think itís something that weíve got any deadline on. And, but surely, we should have something done in the next 90 days for sure.
TOM JENSEN: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question, please press * and 1. Our next question comes from Jim Utter from the Charlotte Observer. Your line is open.
JIM UTTER: Yes, Rick, Jim Utter, Charlotte Observer. Going on the lines of Tom Jensenís question, should we automatically assume that whatever arrangement is made with Kasey will in some way be connected in some fashion with Hendrick Motorsports? And is it your responsibility to work out the 2011 situation or his or both of yours?
RICK HENDRICK: No. Itís on my, Jim, itís my responsibility. Again, Iím not speaking for Kasey, but we wanted, I wanted this deal so bad because I thought that he was just a perfect fit for our company with the talent he has, and it was just like the perfect guy for us. And I made a statement a minute ago that probably isnít correct. I donít think Mark will ever retire, he just donít want to run all the races any more. But, you know, but itís, my goal is to put him in the best situation to win races and win a championship. And we realize that weíve got to do something in í11, but weíre going to adhere to the NASCAR policy and do it according to their rules and regulations are. But this was just too good an opportunity for me to pass up. And so itís clearly all on my shoulders, and Iím committed to giving him the best opportunity, put him in the best place for í11 that we can come up with.
JIM UTTER: As a quick follow up for Kasey, is that basically, Kasey, was that basically your philosophy the opportunity was too good to pass up? And thatís why youíre willing to leave next year kind of up in the air for the time being?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I just, you know, when youíre in a situation like this, I just feel like I need to make a situation thatís, or a decision thatís with the future. You know, and the future for myself. And I thought that this was, something that I really, really wanted to do. And it makes a lot of sense to do it. So weíre going to figure out í11 shortly. But, you know, right now we donít know, but weíll definitely figure that out. Itíll be something really good. And then, we know whatís after that.
JIM UTTER: Thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dustin Long from Landmark Newspapers. Your line is open.
DUSTIN LONG: Thank you. Rick, I want to ask you a question with looking at your organization and the Stewart-Haas Racing organization with the alliance and the close, and the relationship that it has. All ready this season you guys have won four of the first seven races, scored 40% of all of the top fives and nearly a quarter of all the top tens. I think thereís a lot of expectation that, you know, obviously one opportunity is Kasey possibly going over to Stewart-Haas Racing for a year. Some people look at this just as the rich getting richer. I wanted ask your perspective, at what point for the sport can such a dominance by, you know, one umbrella organization be a concern or possibly an impact on fan interest or even those who might want to enter the sport via ownership or sponsorship?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, I Dustin, Iím not, I donít know how to answer that other than, you know, we have a, our organization has won races. Tony and Gene Haas have done a good job over there, and basically they, Tony put together a good group of people and theyíve been successful. They won one race, we won three this year. And a lot of races we won, you know, we were just there, you know, we didnít lead all the laps. We were probably the second or third best car, but we came out on top. And you know, I donít see with the fans that pull for the drivers, not the organizations, and you know, I donít see that thatís, Iíd like to think that weíre going to be, win 40% of the races from here on. But you know, we won four championships back in the Ď90s, and then we went on a dry spell, and a big dry spell. And then we put it back together and weíve had good success here lately. But you know, itís, there are guys, there are organizations out there with ten, eight to ten guys that share information, same motor programs, everybodyís kind of getting into that. Toyota has a huge alliance with sharing information. Itís, you know, itís, thatís what weíre supposed to do. Weíre supposed to win and compete. And you know, I think that weíre doing our job, but it doesnít mean that itís going to be automatic. But, you know, weíve got to, you got to keep working as hard as you can doing all the things you know how to do. But if you look at the races this year, we havenít dominated. Weíve been, you know, in the right place at the right time. And you know, I think the, you canít take away from the fact that Tony Stewart has put together a good organization over there. And theyíve, he and Ryan are great drivers.
DUSTIN LONG: Also, Rick, as a partial stake holder in JR Motorsports, I know you havenít looked at, like I said if Kasey might fit in there. But as a partial stake holder, do you foresee or when could it be viable for that organization to move to Cup? And would it make sense sooner than later in light of some of the challenges recently in finding sponsorship for a nationwide program?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, Juniorís made it pretty clear that he wants to see that a nationwide organization. And I think with the commitments that Danica and you know, whatís going there, you know, that is totally Junior and Kellyís call. But heís been pretty vocal about wanting to, you know, make that a nationwide operation. But, you know, that could change subject to Danicaís decisions, and really that decision is going to be made by Dale and Kelly.
DUSTIN LONG: Thank you.
RICK HENDRICK: Yes, sir.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jenna Fryer from the Associated Press. Jenna, your line is open.
JENNA FRYER: Hi, Rick and Kasey. My questionís kind of for both of you. And I may be putting the cart ahead of the horse, because itís a little related to how much room here is at the inn. Kasey, based on your affinity for your crew chief, I assume youíd like to continue working with Kenny in some form or fashion. And if that is indeed the case, Mr. H., how does that fit in, since you all ready have four crew chiefs?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, go ahead, Kasey.
KASEY KAHNE: You know, my relationship with Kenny has been awesome. I get to work with him every week. We have a great communication between ourselves and kind of what the carís doing and what changes we need to make. And I feel like we can win a lot of races this year or some races this year and before the seasonís done. So you know, I look forward to working with Kenny the rest of this year, and hopefully we work together in the future. But I, personally I donít know. Thatís one of the things that Iím not sure of yet, you know, whatís going to happen there.
JENNA FRYER: Mr. H. do you already have an idea in your head? Alanís currently the crew chief of the 5, but is that, you know, are we still two years out and you donít know yet how itíll play out?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah. You never know, you know, again, whatís going to happen in this sport. But, you know, weíve got four great crew chiefs here. They do a great job, and today weíre locked and set. And you know, who knows what the futureís going to bring.
JENNA FRYER: Okay. Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Nate Ryan from USA Today. Your line is open.
NATE RYAN: Yeah, Rick, you said earlier that you wanted to make sure that you adhere to NASCAR policy and do it according to the rules and regulations. Are you concerned at all, knowing how vigilant theyíve been in enforcing the four car rule, are you, and knowing this is somewhat uncharted territory here, signing a driver a full season and a half ahead. Are you worried that they might be concerned if you put Kasey with a team that uses your chassis and engines?
RICK HENDRICK: Not at all. I mean, thereís a, you know, weíve done chassis and engines for lots of people and it never comes up. And this isnít the first time an organization signed a driver. You know, it happens in IRL. It happens in Formula 1 all the time. And you know, there again, I have to look at the future of our company, and weíre going to do what weíre supposed to do by the NASCAR rules. And you know, weíre-- thereís lots of options. You know, weíve got a year to, hurdle to get over and, but at the, Kasey and I decided that it was worth it. I mean, I am-- the success that weíve had here with the four teams has been good. And you know, with Mark saying that í11 is definitely the last year he can run the full schedule, sometimes you have a hard time matching up the opportunity, the date the seatís open with the date that the driverís available. So after, you know, there wasnít any doubt in my mind that this was a commitment that I would make to Kasey. Put the burden on my shoulders, because I see him as a future star and a guy that will be racing here a long time, winning championships and races. And you know, weíll just figure out, weíre going to figure out í11. And you know, if it was under the old regime, Iíd have him billing over here and have five teams. But I canít do that. So you know, we, I understood that, he understands that. And weíre just going to, weíll figure it out.
NATE RYAN: So if he were to drive in a stop-gap type measure one season with Stewart-Haas, that you donít have, you think that will meet NASCAR approval, no problem?
RICK HENDRICK: Sure it will. I mean, you know, I have no ownership whatsoever in that team. And you know I sell them engines, and I sell them chassis. And you know, no different than James Finch or the 78 car or you know, now, or any of the other alliances like the Earnhardt Ganassi. Thatís an ownership deal, when you look at some of those teams. Our deal has been clearly, their ownership, our ownership. Theyíre a retail customer.
NATE RYAN: Is it fair, last follow up, is it far to say then, Rick, that itís pretty much 100% guarantee that Kasey will drive a Chevrolet for somebody next year?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, itíll be a Chevrolet.
NATE RYAN: Okay. Thank you, sir.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Erik Spanberg from Business Journal. Your line is open.
ERIK SPANBERG: Yeah, Rick, Iím curious with Kasey coming on, what kind of sponsorship opportunities you see, you know, obviously going from an older drive to a younger driver? And then, if Kasey could talk a little bit about what he thinks might happen with Bud, and whether they would come by the time he gets tendered?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, when you couple Kaseyís talent with his, you know, his looks and his popularity, clearly, he is-- would be a sponsorís dream for anybody. He fits in any and every category. So from that standpoint, heís got all positives. I mean, heís, again, heís a-- he could work with any sponsor.
ERIK SPANBERG: And do you have a clean slate on that car? In other words, does the primary end at the same time that Mark will stop driving full time?
RICK HENDRICK: Weíve got options. I mean, again, those kind of things, Iíd have to go back and look at all the contracts because some of them have options to renew, and we havenít even gotten that far yet.
ERIK SPANBERG: And Kasey, from your perspective, Budweiser in the future? What do you think?
KASEY KAHNE: Man, Iíve, you know itís my third year with Budweiser and itís been a great, you know, partnership with those guys. Theyíre really good people. Iíve really enjoyed the brand. But I donít know what the future is for myself and Budweiser. I definitely enjoy what Iíve had so far and hope to stick with them, you know, for a long time, if thatís what works out, but I really have no idea.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Claire B. Lang with SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. Your line is open.
CLAIRE B. LANG: Thank you. Well, first for Rick and then for Kasey. Rick, this opportunity just came up, but youíre the king of strategic thinking when it comes to getting and securing top drivers in the garage area. Knowing that he was looking and trying to decide, how long have you had your eye on Kasey?
RICK HENDRICK: Golly, a long time. You know, he-- you know, I have the utmost respect for Ray Evernham, and you know Ray had talked about Kaseyís talent way back when he first started his team and put him in his car. And Iíve watched him and our guys have watched him, and you know, weíve been in a position where, you know, all of our seats were full. And when, you know, Mark, and I think Mark actually talked to Kasey a year ago about this is what he ought to do. And Mark was working and came to me a year ago saying ďThatís a guy you ought to put in a car.Ē And you know, so itís been on the radar for a good while.
CLAIRE B. LANG: Thank you. And Kasey, you know, thinking about your career, the different organizations and manufacturers and what not, can you talk a little bit about being in a Hendrick car. What you expect that to do to you? How good their cares are and are you just itching to get into one of their cars?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, Iím really looking forward to it, looking forward to the future, and being able to work with those guys and just drive, just drive for Mr. Hendrick. I mean, the cars, the engines, the people that work there, I mean, they have such a team organization and I feel like I can fit really well with the team and fit really well, you know, with team mates and working together and that kind of stuff. So I think itís going to be a-- I really look forward to it. I get to race against Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Mark Martin. I race against them every week and itíll be nice to part of that, part of that team and race with them each week, but be part of the organization.
CLAIRE B. LANG: I guess with a quick follow up, obviously the team, and how they get along and they all love working over there. But do you think the equipment is so stellar that this will have your career soaring?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think their equipmentís, you know, definitely very good. You know, but I think it takes people, and they have great people and it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and thatís where you get Jimmie Johnson. Thatís why that guy and that team are so strong. And you know, Jimmieís always-- every time I talk to him or watch what heís doing, whether itís on the track or on the track, you always see that heís trying to find ways to make himself better. And you know, so thatís why Jimmie Johnson wins, is because how hard that team works, and that team works. And I feel like going to a team like this and having an opportunity like this, itís up to me how bad I want it. If I put in, you know, the effort, the commitment, hopefully, I can definitely win some races there.
CLAIRE B. LANG: Thank you. Good luck, guys.
RICK HENDRICK: Thank you, Claire.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jim Pedley from RacingToday.com. Your line is open.
JIM PEDLEY: This is for Mr. Hendrick. Mr. Hendrick, youíve kind of answered this all ready, but do you foresee any circumstances where Mark might not want to return next year, either because he wins it all next year, or this year or any other circumstances?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, you know, all I can tell you is what Markís told me. He wanted to run another year, wanted to run through í11. And I asked him did he want to run, could he do it beyond ď11? And he said, no, he just didnít think he could do that. And so, you know, thatís all I know right now.
JIM PEDLEY: And also, and do you have a time table for when youíd like to get Kasey hooked up with a deal for next year?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, no, not really. I try not to set those kind of deadlines or time tables because sure as you do, you force yourself into something thatís not right. And you know, this is all so new, we just havenít had a chance to sit back and analyze everything. And literally, our people here and within 24 hours or 36 hours of us getting it done we, the whole world knows it. So we, we havenít had any kind of quiet time to think about the best approaches here, other than my total commitment to him. And I want to say this, too, about our guys here, and Kasey touched on it. Nobody-- there werenít a lot of people trying to hire Jimmie Johnson when he came here. And we didnít have a sponsor. And we were right at getting the year kicked off before we got Loweís and we had to talk them into taking a chance with a young guy. The same thing with Jeff Gordon. I signed a long-term deal to get, paint, put paint in my dealerships to get a sponsor for Jeff Gordon. And Dale Earnhardtís a different story. But Mark Martinís a guy that had been part time, I talked into coming back, and you know, so the bottom line is, like Kasey said, itís not the, so much the equipment, itís the people and their attitude and their willingness to work hard and work together that has made this deal what it is. And the fit with Kasey is like a glove with Jeff and Jimmie and Dale. They all three had come to me, telling me that he would be the guy, if we could get him.
JIM PEDLEY: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bob Pockrass from SceneDaily.com. Your line is open.
BOB POCKRASS: For Kasey, I was curious, did you turn down any offers from any teams that all ready had sponsorship and everything lined up for next year in order to be in this, instead to go, be in this limbo next year and be with Rick in 2012?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I had a-- I talked to a lot of teams, all the teams, you know, over the last couple months. And I just felt like Hendrick Motorsports was the best opportunity, the best place for myself and my future, and thatís what we went with.
BOB POCKRASS: And have you talked to anybody yet at RPM or Ford and do you expect to be locked out of any meetings or discussions about chassis or engine development moving, forward the rest of the year?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I donít know, Iíve definitely talked to RPM. Iíve talked to all the people I needed to talk to. And weíre all on the same page as far as trying to finish strong, and working together and trying to do the right thing. And I have a lot of faith in the 9 guys, our whole Budweiser team. I have a lot of faith in Richard Petty Motorsports, and what theyíre doing right in working with Ralph Grayson (ph), Ralph Spinway (ph). Iím excited about the rest of the year and I think we can do some good stuff, and still make the chase if we can get our season turned around. So Iím looking forward to it. I donít know whatís going to happen as far as myself and the shop, and how the meetings will work. But as of right now, I think everything will be just like itís been the first couple months for this season.
BOB POCKRASS: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from David Caraviello from NASCAR.com. Your line is open.
DAVID CARAVIELLO: Kasey, when did this all start? When did you first start talking to Rick and how quickly did all this come together?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, the, you know, truthfully, it started, I donít know. Itís been on my mind for a long time on what my future would hold, and what I would like to do. And I think as a race car driver, Hendrick Motorsports is one of the places that, you know, that you always dream of racing for. You dream of driving for Mr. Hendrick, and so, you know, Iíve thought about that for a long time, and where I want to go. But you know, itís been in the last, really the last couple months that weíve kind of put this deal together and worked on it. And itís just, you know, when I talked to Mark Martin, and I, you know, learned a lot about the place from Mark and talked to him about things. And you know, he had a lot of really good advice. As well, Jimmie Johnson has helped me a lot over the last couple years with a lot of different things. And then, you know, they were all supportive of this too. So I just felt like, you know, itís a neat fit, itís a great fit. And I look forward to it.
DAVID CARAVIELLO: Did you have Hendrick in mind as where you could possibly want to land at the very beginning?
KASEY KAHNE: Beginning of what?
DAVID CARAVIELLO: This free agency period, or whenever you made up your mind that RPMís not going to be the place for you?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, like I said, itís a place where, you know, a race car driver, you know, if you have an opportunity to go there, you definitely need to look at it and think hard about, you know, what your future holds. And I didnít know at first. I didnít know if that would be a, if they would want me, or how all that works out. So I talked to all the teams. I had really good conversations with everybody, and really enjoyed all that learning about each team and each organization and the owners there. And this is just the one that worked out.
DAVID CARAVIELLO: Thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Marty Smith from ESPN. Your line is open.
MARTY SMITH: Thank you. Rick, we know you said earlier that it was your responsibility to find Kasey a ride for 2011. And we know that he starts with you in í12 and it goes through í15, but what about 2011 with Hendrick Motorsports, specifically? Whatís his contract status with your organization? Does he have one for í11 or no?
RICK HENDRICK: Yes, yes, he does. He has a contract.
MARTY SMITH: Okay. So that contract says then, that itís, youíre going to find him a ride?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, itís my responsibility to get him in a position. Course, heíll have to, heíll agree to it, but itís a stop gap to get us to í12. And you know, thatís just the commitment we made to each other, and if weíve got to have a rough year, and I donít foresee it to be a rough year, but itís kind of a year of transition to get, to hopefully have him for five, six, ten years, then I was willing and he was willing to go that route.
MARTY SMITH: Wonderful. Thank you. Congratulations.
RICK HENDRICK: Thanks, sir.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from JIM UTTER from Charlotte Observer. Your line is open.
JIM UTTER: Actually, I was going to ask Rick the same question as Marty, but Iíll ask Kasey a question. Just Kasey, can you just talk a little bit about, this is very, very early in the season and we still have 29 races left, plus a couple others with the team that youíre with. Will you have to devote a lot of time to the Hendrick and 2011 stuff that you think may take away from your effort with in the long season thatís still ahead?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, you know, thatís another thing that Iím not real sure about how thatís going to work out. Yet. Just because all this was thrown at us so quickly. You know, Marty Smith breaking that yesterday like he did, is just, there was a lot of little specifics that we hadnít got to yet, you know. And all I know for sure is Iím going to put in a lot of time at Richard Petty Motorsports this year and make sure that we finish off there. Put in the effort that Iíve put in for the last six years. And I want to win races.
JIM UTTER: Thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Mike Hembree from SpeedTV.com. Your line is open.
MIKE HEMBREE: Thank you. Kasey, this situation is sort of like knowing youíre really going to get a big Christmas present, but Christmas is a year or two away. How tough is it going to be for you to be patient through this period knowing that no later than í12 youíre going to be in really good cars?
KASEY KAHNE Well, you know, Iím in good cars now. I know Iíll be in good cars next year. So itís not, to me itís more of a relief to have this out of my mind. You know, I just get to focus on racing this year. I know where Iím headed in í11. I know where Iím headed in í12, at least who Iím working with, with Mr. Hendrick. You know, and Iím happy with that right now, and in the next couple months we figure out more, but Iím happy with where weíre at right now, for sure.
MIKE HEMBREE: Thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from David Newton from ESPN.com. Your line is open.
DAVID NEWTON: Yeah, this is for both Rick and Kasey. Basically, what it seems like youíre going to be doing then is next year, youíll start with a team and then in 2011 youíll start with another team. So youíre kind of starting over twice in a two year period. Knowing how long it takes to build chemistry and all, it seems like a bit of a sacrifice to get to where you want to go. Is that, was that a lot of consideration for either one of you when you were making this decision?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, well David, with me, you know, it is and itís one of those things that you, you look at what the end results are. You look at the fact that hereís a 29 year old, 30 year old man, now thatís again, has won, you know, 11 races and sitting on 16 poles, and can really get the job done. And heís been through a lot of transition, and it hasnít been all on the same deal. And you know, heís got so much talent then if I have to wait, if I have to assign his deal or whatever we got to do to get us to that point, itís going to mean years down the road of stability in racing in this organization. And heís committed to the 9 car. He runs awful good over there. And heís going to go back to work driving that car, and weíre going to figure out the interim deal and then weíll go full bore. And you know, itís just, to me it was worth it. Whatever I-- whatever amount of sacrifice or whatever you want to call it, or time and effort, because you donít have a Kasey Kahne that comes along every day that has the whole package that fits with our guys, that they like a lot, and I like him, too. And you know, itís just you donít have those come along all the time.
DAVID NEWTON: Kasey?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, thatís something that I thought about. You know, I think, you know, working with, you know, a crew chief and a team for a while, definitely, the communication definitely gets better. You understand each other better, and thatís something that you have to, have to learn. But Iím also looking at the future, and looking at down the road, and I feel like, I feel like I can adapt pretty quickly. Iíve always been able to adapt pretty quickly to situations, whether itís good, bad or indifferent. You have to adapt as a race car driver, and Iíve felt like Iíve done a decent job at that over the years. And Iím going to have to adapt a little bit and thatís just something Iím going to go through and Iím going to figure out how to do it the best I can and as quickly as I possibly can.
DAVID NEWTON: Great. To follow up, is there a scenario, I guess Mark Martin, said this is the guy you need. Where you would ask Mark or Mark would even volunteer to step aside and be the guy to go over to Stewart-Haas so Kasey could move in that ride and not have to make that adjustment, or are you set and determined that heíll be in that car through 2011?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, Mark has said he wants to drive that car, and thatís the way weíre headed right now.
DAVID NEWTON: Thanks a lot, guys.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Mike Solarte from News14 Carolina. Your line is open.
MIKE SOLARTE: Thanks. Congratulations Rick and Kasey. Youíve touched on options, or you touched on what could happen or you donít know really what happened. What are the viable options for Kasey for 2011? Is it Stewart-Haas? Is it, I mean is there is another alliance or another place or is Kasey maybe running a minimum, not a full schedule, but a partial schedule in some way, shape or form with one of those other, those places? I mean, what are the, what are the options presented to you right now?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, you know, we havenít, again, you know, I know you guys feel like weíre stonewalling you and thatís not, thatís not the case. Martyís such a bloodhound that he, you know, he comes, the inkís not dry and heís out here reporting it. And we canít, there is no perfect scenario in this deal. I mean, there is just no way to say, this is what youíre going to do. Because we donít, weíre just barely into the 2010 year, and a lot of things change, a lot of things happen. But the commitment is there from Hendrick Motorsports to Kasey and from Kasey to us. We want to be together that bad that weíre willing to say, okay, letís make, letís just, letís forget about, you know, trying to figure it all out right now. This is what weíre going to do, and weíll figure it out later. And thatís what we did. And weíll figure it out later. I mean, Iím just telling you, have not, we havenít talked to anyone in detail about what we, what could be done. If people have called, you know, saying, ďHey would you consider this?Ē So weíre just, I think you know, what Kasey wants to do is go back to the track and get in that 9 car and give them everything heís got. And then Iím going to huddle with my guys and weíre going to decide the best route and the options that are on the table. Again, to sit within the NASCAR guidelines and weíll all make the best decision and weíll move forward.
MIKE SOLARTE: Thank you, Rick.
RICK HENDRICK: Sir.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Lee Spencer from Foxx Sports. Your line is open.
LEE SPENCER: Thank you. Rick, a couple questions for you. First of all, Jack Roush can be a vindictive person. He cut the string early on Kurt Busch and let him go. If that was the case, could you kind of move the program up faster for Kasey? And I guess, the second question, over at Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Gibson was able to bring his entire crew from DEI and, you know, not have to start fresh. He had the resources there. They had the relationship where they could kind of go forward. Is that, you know, could that be a situation or scenario that you see for, with KASEY KAHNE in the future?
RICK HENDRICK: Again, you know, there are so any possibilities, theyíre just too, itís not fair to anyone to even speculate because we donít have, we donít have option a, b, c and d right now. Weíre just too fresh into the deal, and weíve kind of decided, letís take a couple of days here and get our breath and then weíll go back at it. So you know, there are just, if we laid out ten options, there will be some more thatíll pop up. So you know, we just have to wait and see.
LEE SPENCER: And to follow that up, you are going to be in a precarious position though, because where ever he does land, youíre probably going to need you know, 50 to 60 guys to run that team that season. Where do they come from? And then what do you tell them after the final race of 2011?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, you, we donít know for sure that thatís going to have to be 50 to 60 guys and that theyíll, you know, we donít know any of that yet. There may be an opportunity that, that nobody here has even thought of yet. So you know, we just got to wait and see.
LEE SPENCER: Thank you, sir.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jenna Fryer from the Associated Press. Your line is open.
JENNA FRYER: Rick, I just wanted to ask you or try to pin you down so that thereís no, we canít come back later and say maybe your words could have gone one way or the other. Is there, are you certain Kasey wonít be in the 5 car next year?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, Jenna, Iíll tell you, if, it would have to be Mark Martinís thing that he does not want to do what he told me he wanted to do. Itís that simple.
JENNA FRYER: Okay. Okay, thank you.
RICK HENDRICK: Okay.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jorge Mondaca from Fox Sports. Your line is open.
JORGE MONDACA: Hi, Rick. My question is, will this unfold at Hendrick Motorsports again or could we possible see you do a deal like this again in the future, where you sign a driver and maybe have to hold them off for a couple years until a seat is available once again?
RICK HENDRICK: I think this is a unique situation. If you look at our guys, where we are right now, with all the years that we have on the contracts, I think once Kaseyís in the car our stable is set. You know, there might be a development driver or it might be something else in a young guy, whatever, but I feel like once Kaseyís in the seat of that 5 car, weíre set for a pretty good amount of years. Probably, Iíll probably retire before I need anybody else.
JORGE MONDACA: You donít see this type of contract becoming the norm for your organization?
RICK HENDRICK: No, I, you know, you have to think a little bit outside the box sometimes. And Iíve watched this in Formula 1 again, Iíve watched it in IRL, and you know, itís just one of those things that you know, you just, you have to, if you want to commit far enough out to make something happen, then itís kind of, you know, thatís what we had to do. So again, I think it shows that our commitment to Kasey, because again, of all the things Iíve all ready said. He fits, heís got so much talent. We know Mark says, and I asked Mark point blank, ďDo you want to go any further? Tell me, can you do more than 2011?Ē He said, ďNo, I cannot. I donít want to do any, a full season past 2011.Ē So Kasey and I made this commitment and it rests on my shoulders.
JORGE MONDACA: And finally, Kasey, is there any fear at all that the No. 9 car might become a R&D car or do you feel really comfortable that you can finish out the rest of the season as you are right now?
KASEY KAHNE: That it might become what?
JORGE MONDACA: A test team, where they might give you experimental stuff to work out?
KASEY KAHNE: No, I donít have that fear. I feel like, you know, we have a great team and Richard Petty Motorsports wants to win races and the 9 guys can. So I think theyíre going to be behind us and weíre going to work hard together and weíre going to finish strong.
JORGE MONDACA: Thank you, gentlemen.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Claire B. Lang with SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. Your line is open.
CLAIRE B. LANG: Yeah, real quick question, a follow up for you, Rick. And I know that Kasey talked about Budweiser. Whatís your relationship with Budweiser right now? Have you had discussions with them about moving the sponsorship over? It would seem to make sense, but I wonder if a, that makes sense after having, after you have had a chance to chat with them?
RICK HENDRICK: Iíve had a good relationship with those people over the years, but Iíve had no conversations. Again, nobody, Iíve talked to nobody yet.
CLAIRE B. LANG: Thanks for clarifying.
OPERATOR: Our next question comes from David Yeazell from BleacherReport.com. Your line is open.
DAVID YEAZELL: Hey, this question, the first part is for Kasey. Kasey, did RPM offer you an extension or offer you a contract to stay?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, they were one of the teams that you know, that Iíve been talking to about the future. And you know, I just felt like Iíve been there for six years, itíll be seven at the end of this one and I just wanted, I want to do something different. I want to make a bit of a change and see what itís like somewhere else. So that was my decision.
DAVID YEAZELL: The second part of the question is for Mr. Hendrick. Youíve made it clear that you donít know about Mark getting out of the car and Kasey getting in. So if Kasey does ride with Stewart-Haas, as you refer to them as a retail customer, that means that this driver would be on loan to Stewart-Haas. Do you think maybe youíre setting a precedent there, something outside the box, as you say?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, yeah, that happens. And actually Iíve talked to Chip Ganassi and I had a conversation a while back and Penske and I have and Iíve see it happen in Formula 1. And again, itís, you know, itís, youíre, itís not the kind of thing if you had your rathers, youíd rather everything line up together, but sometimes it just doesnít work out that way. And you know, so it could be.
DAVID YEAZELL: Okay. Thank you.
RICK HENDRICK: Sure.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Patrick Carney from WKKX AM 1600 Radio. Your line is open.
PATRICK CARNEY: Mr. Hendrick, Iím not sure how NASCAR view this, so maybe this is something that you can clear up. I know that youíre listed as the car owner of the 24 and the 88. So in NASCARís eyes are you at your limit or not?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, the way that works, and my dad was actually the owner of the 5 car. And thatís been that way since the inception, you know, the beginning of the, Iím sorry the 25 car. And then it became the 5 car. But NASCARís rules are if youíre in the same facility and you have the economic benefit, Iím not sure how all of it works, but I know that itís, you know, it would not qualify for us to have different ownership in the same building, and even though there are multiple owners.
PATRICK CARNEY: And then for Kasey, I heard an interview with you earlier this week, and you said this decision has been distracting you throughout the season. I was wondering now that the decision has been made are you able now to focus on the 9 or is there so much more that goes along with this that youíre still going to be distracted throughout the season with it?
KASEY KAHNE: Actually, I havenít really been distracted. Iíve felt like Iíve you know, focused hard on the 9 and weíve done a good job there. Weíve actually been really fast and, you know, in most of the races. Weíve had some things happen, some bad luck and also some things happen that were not good in the points. But weíve, we won one race and came close at Atlanta. So weíve been pretty good. I think what this does is it just, I just donít have to worry about, you know, I put a lot of time and effort and just thinking about the future. And I donít have to worry about that anymore. I have that done. And so now, I just focus on driving. But you know, I donít think itís affected me, I just think itís kind of a relief to get it over with.
PATRICK CARNEY: Okay, thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. This now concludes the Q&A portion of this conference. Back to you, Mr. Essex.
JESSE ESSEX: Thank you, George. This concludes our teleconference. I appreciate the mediaís time today and wish everybody safe travels to Texas.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude todayís conference call. You may now all disconnect. Everyone have a great day.
FROM NASCAR Media