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MOORESVILLE, N.C. — After a five-race introduction to Red Bull Racing Team to close the 2010 season, Kasey Kahne joins us full-time in 2011. We sat down with driver No. 4 to find out what his expectations are for this season, his relationship with teammate Brian Vickers, how his knees are holding up and why he chose the No. 4.

Q: What does Red Bull Racing Team have to offer you during this one year?
A: I think the biggest thing is the stability, the drive of winning, the excitement of all the employees and just how everybody wants to run good. Everybody wants to make themselves better. We want to do it for Red Bull. To me, it’s just a good attitude. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude and that’s what I feel they’re giving me as much as anything — a great opportunity. I’ve always wanted to just do everything I can to win, and this is one of those years where you go into it really confident because of the off-season and because of the way that Red Bull is preparing for this season. I’m really excited. I think we can do a lot. I think we can run strong and have a lot of fun at the same time. I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started.

Q: How do you feel the final five races in the No. 83 last season helped you for your first full season with Red Bull Racing Team?
A: As much as anything, I liked kind of just changing and starting out with a team and getting used to their ways a little bit. I think that was definitely good. I think it was good for myself to get away from where I was. It needed to happen sooner than later. I think it was good for RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) to get me out of there. They were happy about it and I was happy about it and we’ve went on. I’m actually really happy with where I’m at, and since Kenny Francis (crew chief) and some of the guys that I’ve worked with in the past have came over to Red Bull, I just feel really confident and really under control. I know exactly what is going on. I feel like that’s a good thing and it’s going to be really beneficial for all of us this year to have Kenny and a lot of the guys that came.

Q: What would it mean for you to win the Daytona 500?
A: It would be great to win at Daytona. I got a little bit of a taste of it by winning a 150 (qualifying race) there. And, we ran pretty strong there all of the races last year, it seemed like. I feel confident running well at Daytona and the 4 has been impressive at times there so hopefully we can just have a really good Speedweeks, be upfront in everything we do and start the season off right. That’s all we can ask for, that’s what we’re going for.

Q: Have you talked with your teammate, Brian Vickers, about what he’s gone through to be able to come back to NASCAR?
A: I’ve known Brian for a long time. I wouldn’t say we’re best friends or anything, but we’ve definitely been friends for a long time. Myself, I take off a month and a half during the off-season and I can’t wait to get back in the car. I do, and I’m so excited for a couple days to just be back in a race car and get to feel it, whether it’s any type of car and especially our Sprint Cup cars. To me, I couldn’t imagine being out for eight months at this time of your career. I’m not sure how old he is, but whatever he is, that’s a great time in his career and where he’s at in racing. I think it would be really difficult to be out, but at the same time things happen, you get it fixed up and you go on. And, that’s what he’s done. I think he’s got to be relieved and just excited as can be to be back in the car. I’m looking forward to working with him and having a great season together.

Q: What were you and Brian Vickers able to learn at the Daytona test in January?
A: There was a lot you could learn with that two-car draft. The pack was too small to really learn a lot as far as the drafting side goes with the bigger pack. Nobody ever wanted to draft — or not enough cars at once so that made it tough. I think myself and Brian started it and then everybody else by the end of the testing were really focusing on the two-car stuff and making changes and figuring out how you work together and how that works. I think it was really good. You’re going to need that as far as the way that the track is now. I don’t think you’ll need it as much as what we did at the test. With the big pack, you’ll need it at times and it’s good to know how it works and how you can make it work better.

Q: Are you at a point in your career where you feel like it’s time to have more success on the race track?
A: I’ve been at that point, really. I feel like it should happen. I don’t feel like I have near enough wins. I don’t have near enough poles. I haven’t made the Chase enough. Everything about what I’ve done I don’t feel like I’ve done near enough. I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to racing and a lot of things off the track. I want to do it right. I want to figure out how to win more and contend a lot more often.

Q: Are your knees completely recovered from your off-season surgeries?
A: Yeah, probably not basketball because I can’t really twist a lot yet and maybe come down wrong. As far as running, I’m running every day. I’m biking every day. I’ve been biking for about a month. I feel pretty good. I’m already running on the treadmill at 8.0 so that’s pretty decent. The knees aren’t too bad if you can do that. They don’t affect me. I didn’t even feel them sitting in the race car. They feel better now than they felt at the end of last year. I’m actually pretty happy with it.

Q: What did exactly did you have done to your knees?
A: From what I understand, we’re all born with Plica. We’re all born with it and most of it goes away and mine didn’t. Mine actually kind of got bigger and filled up my joints so it was rubbing on my joints and rubbing on your kneecap and things like that. So, it was kind of a pain. Then, I tore my meniscus in my right knee so they had to fix that also so that was a pain all of last year. I did that in March of last year, so I just kind of lived with it all year and got lucky that something didn’t happen there because it could’ve been much worse.

Q: How does your crew chief, Kenny Francis, fit in at Red Bull Racing Team?
A: Well, he’s not going to change, so that doesn’t really matter. He just does his thing. He’s a great guy. He’ll sit there and if you can get him to open up and talk about things, he’s a really good guy. I’ve learned a lot and really like Kenny. But he’s probably not the edgiest guy around. That’s fine. I think it’s great. He doesn’t change, I can tell you that. It doesn’t matter who is talking to him or what time of day or when it is, he’s that same person. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Q: What made you change to the 4 car?
A: They’ve been 82, 84 and 83 and I didn’t really want to be any of those numbers so I asked if I could be … when I go and race my sprint car I’m number 4. We have our own kind of numbers — the 4, the 9, the 91 and the 49 — all our numbers kind of match and look similar. I just asked them if they cared if I was 4, nobody is and kind of ran our design and everything. They were actually perfectly fine with it. I think it looks really good on the car. It looked great on the race track. It looks good on everything they’ve done with the 4 so far. I’m glad that Red Bull was behind it, and it’s pretty cool.

Q: Your Kasey Kahne Racing sprint cars are beginning their season at Volusia, not far from Daytona. What’s it like being a driver and race team owner?
A: I’m really excited about Volusia Speedweeks for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. We’re taking four cars down there, four different drivers and teams. They’ve been preparing all winter long. Everybody is excited about that race, and I can’t wait to get there. We’ve put a lot of effort into it all year long, and we have some great drivers. Should be a great week.


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