News & Media

From the Notebook: Kahne does his duty; tests '13 Chevy

February 09, 2012, Dave Rodman,

From the Notebook: Call to be juror supersedes media tour; happy with '13 Chevy

Hendrick Motorsports' newest driver, Kasey Kahne, found himself between a rock and a hard place last month when he was summoned for jury duty in North Carolina. Knowing his scheduled "court date" might conflict with his brother's wedding, Kahne petitioned the legal system to work with him and, according to the system, he was given some.

"I was really nervous if I did get called as a juror that I'd have to miss [my brother's] wedding, and that's the last thing I wanted to do," Kahne said. "They gave me three options: Daytona 500 week, his wedding week and the media [tour] week. And to me the only one that I could take a chance on was media week."

Kahne wasn't the only Sprint Cup notable to miss out on more than 200 national media members visiting with him and his teammates as part of the annual media tour. Carl Edwards was out of the country on vacation.

But Kahne's trip to court made for a better story. It was almost as if his participation had been pre-scripted, even though the three-day trial left quite a bit to be desired if you're used to the typical courtroom theatrics seen on most episodes of Law & Order.

"I think the TV, they make it a little more into TV -- they make you want to watch it or something," Kahne said of the ultimate guilty verdict he was part of delivering in a burglary case. "This was definitely not a lot of fun and games. I mean, it was intense -- some pretty serious stuff. I think they really puff those TV ones up a little bit, those shows, but this was the real deal."

Kahne said his experience got off to a slow start, but once his participation was inevitable, he was all in, as it were. Not that he had a choice.

"There was about 50-some of us in there, and I think I was the second or third one called," Kahne said. "At that point you just get interviewed, and they figure out all 12 jurors, and they wanted me in there, I guess, so I did it.

"It was interesting -- actually a pretty neat deal once I got in the middle of it and got focused on what was going on. It was a little different than I expected. Actually it was kind of drawn out, so at times it was like, 'man, could we maybe hurry this process up a little bit?'

"But at the same time I learned a lot, and I felt like I was part of something, a really big deal. And I actually started to really enjoy it. I enjoyed doing that."

But strangely enough -- though not when you consider Kahne virtually glows whenever anyone mentions the stability involved with being a part of Hendrick Motorsports -- Kahne said he really regretted missing this media day.

"Maybe in the past I haven't wanted to be at media day, every one of them," Kahne said. "But this year I really wanted to be there and be a part of it and talk about the exciting 2012 season. But I wasn't able to, and I felt like I definitely learned some things doing jury duty and being part of that."

The only thing left to see is if Kahne tries anything he learned in court on Sprint Cup director John Darby and NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton. The verdict's still out on that one.

Kahne also can't wait for 2013

Kahne participated last week in a clandestine four-manufacturer test of the new 2013 models that was a secret until Kahne Tweeted how excited he was about testing Chevrolet's unreleased car at Homestead-Miami Speedway on his @KaseyKahne Twitter feed. He was asked about it on a teleconference earlier this week.

"Oh, my impressions of [the 2013 car] -- we tested [at Homestead] on Wednesday [Feb. 1] and Thursday we were at Nashville with the current car," Kahne said. "And just really, for the initial test session with that [2013] car, it was -- you can tell they've put a lot into it because the car drove great. It looks really good.

"I think all the cars looked really good that were there, and [the Chevrolet he tested] drove great right off the start, first time on the track. I think it's going to be a really exciting change for everybody involved, and especially the fans.

"I think they're going to be able to see a little more of the ... a little more what they've looked for in the past, being able to see the manufacturer of each car and how they look different and aren't the exact same."

Kahne was asked what he expected at the test.

"The things I was looking for were just making single-lap runs by yourself, how does it drive?" Kahne said. "How does the side force feel? How does the downforce feel, the front, down to how is the car turning? And all that stuff I was really happy with."

Kahne said the drivers that tested, who included Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, also tried running in four-car packs in different configurations and formations and he said he was pleased.

"The car was always really solid," Kahne said. "I mean, you could get sliding around once in a while, but for what we did there, I felt like that car was really solid and really fun to drive."

Kahne said the secretive nature of the test -- only the Ford Fusion has been shown the public while only the Fusion and Toyota Camry have been cited as the brand of choice for next season -- was amusing.

"It was all kind of fun," Kahne said. "I didn't really think of it as anything different, anything bad. It was just kind of cool to be a part of that. Chevy is looking after their car until they're ready to unveil it."

White back with 'own truck'

With Joe Denette Motorsports having decided to fields Camping World Truck Series teams on opposite ends of the spectrum in 2012 -- for four-time champion Ron Hornaday and rookie Max Gresham -- Jason White has taken his sponsorship to his own GB Racing team which will field No. 23 Fords in 2012.

White, who finished 10th and 15th in points, respectively, in his past two Truck Series seasons, driving for two different teams with the same backing after last fielding his own trucks in 2009, will use Roush Yates Engines in his trucks prepared by veteran crew chief Doug George. They'll operate from a 30,000-square-foot facility in Mooresville, N.C., formerly the home of A.J. Foyt Racing.

"I am excited to get our own race team up and running again," White said. "We ran our own program in 2009 with some solid results and we are working hard to expand on that. I really like what we are building at GB Racing and we have set a goal of being a regular fixture in the top five. I look for the 2012 season to be my best yet."

Currently a single-truck team, GB Racing is considering expanding into a multi-team operation.

JD Motorsports adds second Nationwide car

JD Motorsports, who fields the No. 01 Chevrolet for veteran Mike Wallace, has announced it will try to bolster its program by running a second full-time car in 2012. Owner Johnny Davis, who in the past has sometimes raced three cars in Nationwide events, plans to team a No. 4 Chevrolet with Wallace's car, which will be tended this year by new crew chief Newt Moore.

The second car will have several drivers, including recent college-engineering graduate Danny Efland, who'll race the Daytona opener, and Canadian Daryl Harr. There's a possibility Wallace's daughter, Chrissy Wallace, may do some races in the second car if marketing partners can be found.

A team release said both cars are locked into the first five races of 2012 via their owners' points from the 2011 season.

"We needed to do this because a two-car operation is better than one," Davis said. "Any time you can get twice as much information from two drivers and teams, the better understanding you have of what's going on out there on the track."

Lopez gets solid opportunity with RPM

Veteran crew chief Philippe Lopez has toiled at doing a lot with a little in his past two gigs, at NEMCO Motorsports where he engineered owner/driver Joe Nemechek making virtually every race he attempted in the past two full seasons, and then helping Dave Blaney remain solidly inside the Sprint Cup Series' top 35 once he moved over to Tommy Baldwin Racing midway through the 2011 season.

Lopez has taken a position as crew chief at Richard Petty Motorsports for the new Nationwide Series program for Michael Annett, who finished ninth in the Nationwide standings last season while driving for Rusty Wallace Racing. Despite Annett having a family connection to Pilot Flying J backing, RWR shut down after last season and RPM decided to field a team for him this season.

Subway steps up involvement with Roush, Edwards

The Subway restaurant chain has doubled the number of races in which it will be the primary sponsor of Edwards' No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford from three in 2011, to six this coming season. The multi-year partnership also includes four additional races as a major associate sponsor and becoming the "Official Training Restaurant" of Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing.

The six 2012 races for the No. 99 Subway Ford will be March 4 in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix, March 25 at Auto Club, June 3 at Dover, July 7 at Daytona, Sept. 2 at Atlanta and Oct. 7 at Talladega.

Edwards will again be featured in the Subway restaurant advertising campaigns. The first new on-air ad with Edwards will run during the national television broadcast of the Daytona 500.

Blaney goes Outlaw

Dave Blaney is a former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion, but that was back in the day -- 1995 to be exact -- right before Blaney decided to divert his open-wheel career toward NASCAR.

But Blaney will join the ranks of regular NASCAR competitors who are competing on dirt this season -- if not during Daytona's Speedweeks -- when he runs several World of Outlaws events at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., as part of the 41st UNOH DIRTcar Nationals.

Blaney plans to race five consecutive nights at Volusia, Feb. 15-19, with the first two days for the All-Star Circuit of Champions and the latter three the WoO. Blaney can't wait to drive the Florida-based car for owner Tom Leidig at Volusia.

"I've missed it the whole time I've been doing NASCAR," Blaney said. "I follow every bit of it and keep track of what's going on. When I get done racing NASCAR, I'd love to get back on that side of it. I'm a World of Outlaws guy that went and did something else."