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Evernham Motorsports lights up the desert in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
KASEY KAHNE FINISHES SECOND FOR SECOND-STRAIGHT RACE
Evernham Motorsports made a strong statement Sunday that they are a racing organization to contend with in the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season after the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, won the pole for the event after posting a speed of 174.904 mph, which set a new track record. The feat marked the first time a rookie won the pole at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and he tied Mark Martin and Kurt Busch for winning a pole in just his third starts.
Once the green flag fell, Kahne dropped back to second but on lap five he passed Kurt Busch to lead his first career Nextel Cup race. He didn't relinquish the lead until right before a caution came out on lap 35. Kahne's "Dew Crew" made a fast pit stop and Kahne won the battle off pit road.
After the restart, Kahne had slight handling problems in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, but still managed to stay in the top-10. However, what looked to be a potential disaster struck on lap 172 of the 267 lap race.
During a restart following a caution, Kahne was forced to the high side of the race track and picked up debris on his tires. When he drove into turn one, the car would not turn properly and he had to back out of the throttle. Kahne reported to his crew that everything was fine, but the unfortunate incident dropped him back to the 20th position.
Kahne slowly started picking up positions and with 60 laps to go he found himself in 13th place. However, Team Director Tommy Baldwin radioed to Kahne to try to conserve fuel because they might not have enough to make it to the end of the race.
But, by the way the 23-year-old Kahne responded, you would have never thought he heard the advice. One-by-one he picked off the front runners and with five laps to go he was in second position, where he finished for the second straight race. Matt Kenseth won the event.
"It was definitely a great run for the Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge," said an excited Kahne after the race. "We needed a few more laps. We keep getting down to the end of these races and NASCAR needs to put a couple more miles at the end.
"Today was mission accomplished. To run second both days (Kahne finished second in Saturday's Busch race) and to get the pole, that's all you can ask for. It's a great team effort and a great weekend.
"We were sliding around a bunch there at the end, saving fuel. They told me to save fuel and be real smooth on the throttle. I was trying to do that, but I didn't want to slow down, either. Obviously, I saved enough."
The finish was enough to catapult Kahne to eighth in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series point standings. He also has a 12 point advantage in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, started sixth on Sunday in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
After moving up to fourth by lap 20, Mayfield experienced handling problems in his Dodge, which plagued him all afternoon. On lap 120 he dropped back to 23rd position, but managed to keep the car on the lead lap.
Each time the team pitted they made adjustments and Mayfield's Dodge gradually got better. Before the final restart on lap 206, Mayfield came down pit road to top off on fuel, insuring him that he could finish the race without having to make another pit stop.
On the restart, Mayfield was in 23rd position but steadily made his was through the field. He finished 14th, which bumped him up four spots to 14th overall in the NASCAR Nextel Cup point standings.
"We just missed it from practice on Saturday," said Mayfield. "I guess the track conditions really changed because we couldn't quite get to where we were in practice.
"We were able to stay on the lead lap and we picked up some spots in the points, so overall it was a good day."
Bill Elliott returned to NASCAR Nextel Cup for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 with a new car and a new Evernham Motorsports chassis. He qualified his No. 91 UAW/DaimlerChrysler/National Training Center Dodge in the 10th starting spot, and spent the early part of the race in the top 15.
When the caution came out on lap 40, he came into the pits for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He returned to the top 15, and ran there most of the day. He returned to the pits under each of the six race cautions for additional air pressure and track bar adjustments. He finished the day in the 20th position after he was forced to stop for additional fuel near the end of the race.
The new Evernham Motorsports chassis got high marks for its performance in the race. Later this season the No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodges will adopt the new chassis.
"The new Evernham chassis was pretty good," said Elliott. "We learned a lot about it, so we can go do some more work on it."
The next outing for the No. 91 Evernham Motorsports Dodge will be at Texas Motor Speedway.
EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS IN THE NEWSEvernham Motorsports was at the forefront of the headlines and airwaves the week prior to and during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Before the event even started, several interviews were conducted including Ray Evernham with the Associated Press and USA Today, Kasey Kahne with Sprint Car and Midge Magazine and the Las Vegas Sun and Jeremy Mayfield with Sporting News Radio.
On Thursday, Kahne joined fellow rookies Brendan Gaughan and Scott Wimmer at Mandalay Bay for a special feature that aired during FOX Sports pre-race coverage.
Following a strong qualifying run on Friday, Mayfield held live interviews with The Speed Channel and PRN Radio before a special one-on-one interview with NASCAR Online.
Kahne's impressive pole-winning qualifying run set the stage for a massive media blitz on Friday afternoon. Live interviews were conducted with The Speed Channel and MRN Radio before he spoke with Fox Sports Net, MRN Radio and XM Satellite Radio just to name a few.
Once qualifying was over, Kahne did interviews for ESPN's Sportscenter, Autoweek and American Thunder Magazine. After Busch Series final practice, Kahne visited the media center and fielded questions from the motorsports press.
On Saturday before Nextel Cup practice began, Kahne did one-on-one interviews with MRN Radio and WJBK, the FOX network affiliate in Detroit, Michigan.
After final practice on Saturday, Mayfield was interviewed by Fox Sports Net and Media Television, a Toronto based television station with over 85 affiliates worldwide.
On Sunday before the race, Kahne did a live interview with Fox Sports Net's NASCAR This Morning and PRN Radio. The New York Times, Sunday edition, featured a story on Bill Elliott and included Kasey Kahne and Sammy Johns, Team Director for the No. 91.
After finishing second, Kahne did live interviews with Fox Sports, PRN Radio and NASCAR Victory Lane. On pit road he did one-on-one interviews with ESPN, The Speed Channel, XM Satellite Radio, NASCAR Scene and The Sporting News.
Following the pit road interviews, Kahne visited the media center for the fourth time in three days. After his interview session, he did one-on-one interviews with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Autoweek, ESPN Online and several local television affiliates.
SPONSOR NEWSSeveral Evernham Motorsports partners were well represented prior to and during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 including Dodge, UAW-NTC, Mountain Dew, Siemens, and Freightliner just to name a few.
On Monday, Ray Evernham, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne joined UAW Board members for their annual meeting in Las Vegas.
After winning the pole on Friday, Kahne posed for pictures with several UAW members.
Prior to practice on Saturday, Evernham, Mayfield and Kahne teamed up with PRN Radio to record "liners" for Dodge. Following final practice, Mayfield signed autographs at his souvenir hauler and Kahne did the same after the Busch Series race. Evernham also met with several special guests of Freightliner after final practice.
Sunday prior to the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 was full of appearances for Evernham Motorsports. Evernham made a special visit to the Siemens hospitality tent before meeting with UAW Board members in the Cup garage. Freightliner CEO Roger Nielson was a special guest of Evernham Motorsports at the Nextel Cup drivers meeting. Kasey Kahne also met with several guests of Mountain Dew, whom he took pictures with and signed autographs. Jeremy Mayfield participated in the Dodge Dealers hospitality event along with other Dodge Drivers where a Q&A was conducted.