The 12 Questions series of driver interviews continues this week with Kasey Kahne of Leavine Family Racing. Kahne finished fourth last week at Daytona International Speedway. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but also transcribed below for those who prefer to read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
That’s interesting. I actually never really do about driving the car. I feel like my dreams, when I do have them, it’s like I’m going to miss the race or miss qualifying or miss practice. Like I can’t get my seatbelts buckled — they’re too short. I just can’t get them that last little bit, or for whatever reason I can’t put my glove on. Like just weird stuff but I can’t figure out how to do it. Or you can’t find your helmet. I don’t know why, but those have kind of always been my dreams about racing.
That would freak me out, just trying to think about getting your glove on over and over and the cars are starting.
And then it’s like the race is starting in the dream and you can’t do it because you can’t get your glove on. But that’s not really how it goes. I mean you’ve got tons of time before the race starts (in real life).
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
I think it always does. I feel like you might as well get on the same page and talk about it. It’s usually probably not the best idea right after it happens — although sometimes it is if it’s not intentional and you’re pretty sure they understand that. Then that’s a good time just because it’s over with.
But I think the sooner the better — no later than Monday if it’s a Sunday show — just try and get it figured out and talk about it and then you can move on and you know if that person is still mad at you or if it made sense the way you explained it or you did them wrong.
They might eventually get you back. But at least you know, and at least they know where you’re coming from also. I think it’s good to get it out there.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
I always like compliments about a couple things: being a good person, treating a person with respect, treating people the way I want to be treated. And when somebody compliments me on something like that, I feel good about that.
Also, anytime I get a compliment about Tanner, my son, just no matter what it is, like, “You’re a good dad” or “You have a great boy” — just anything to do with him that is a compliment for him or for myself, it makes me feel good.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?
Tom Brady. For one, he’s my favorite quarterback. Over the years he’s just so clutch, so perfect when you have to be perfect in that situation. So I just always thought that about him. And to be able to have someone like that at the racetrack and show them around, to me that would be unbelievable no matter what I got to show him, like about the cars or around the racetrack — just different things that NASCAR has going on throughout the weekend. I think that would be pretty awesome.
5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?
No. I wouldn’t.
You like your meat and cheese too much?
For sure, and you can still do really well on other stalls and still eat the way I like eating.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2011 Darlington Cup race.
I was in the Red Bull No. 4, we were super fast early in the race and I hit the wall. I might have even been leading; if I wasn’t leading, I was running second. I feel like Carl Edwards was up in the mix. But we were running up front and had a really good car and I hit the wall and ruined our chances of winning. We got the big Darlington stripe. I feel like we finished fourth, but without the damage we would have had a much better shot.
Wow, that’s amazing. You did finish fourth. You led more than 120 laps. That was the race Regan Smith won. Are you always that good at remembering races, or does that one just stick out?
A lot of things that went on in ’11 stick out. That was one of my favorite years in Cup racing for a lot of different reasons. And most races at Darlington stick out. That’s a track I’ve always had on the top of my list to win at. And I have a bunch of poles there and I’ve came close a bunch of different times but never been able to pull those off. So I remember those races really well. If you had asked me something else, I probably wouldn’t know.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
I actually like rap, but I don’t usually know who’s singing. Or rapping, I guess.
So you like the song, but you’re like, “I don’t know who this is?”
Right. I actually just heard a song recently that I was like, “Man, that’s actually really good. That guy’s good at that.” But I had no clue who it was.
When I was younger, Eminem was my favorite. But that was a long time ago, I’m not sure anymore how much new music he has or anything.
He’s put out some stuff, but it’s not like amazing like the old stuff.
Yeah, the old stuff, I just always liked that.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
I think about someone up top calling the race (from the NASCAR tower) because there’s so much relying on their calls and so many of them are the right calls and good calls and even the ones that I wouldn’t think are right sometimes can be right. But sometimes I just can’t believe certain calls. Like it just irritates me so bad.
Like when you watch it back? (Editor’s note: For some reason, I thought Kahne was referring to spotters and didn’t grasp he was referring to NASCAR at first.)
No, when I’m actually in the car. I may not have all the information at the time, but I can get as mad about some of that stuff as I can about a lot of things.
Are you talking about a spotter clearing somebody or something and you’re like, “I can’t believe that?” I’m confused.
I’m talking about like David Hoots. (The frustration) just comes from the call and then because of that, that person I guess. Whoever makes that call.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
So I think Tom Hanks is my crew chief because I feel like he would just be really in depth and just really figure it out and tune it up. Call a great race. Like he’d have all the information, do all the research. So Tom’s the crew chief.
LeBron’s the spotter because he’s just going to motivate me. I mean, he’ll just motivate the whole race. I don’t even like to be motivated, but if LeBron James was trying to motivate me, I think it’d be awesome. So LeBron’s motivating and he’s the spotter and helping me win the race. And Taylor Swift’s driving my motorhome.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
Actually, the key is probably the interior guy (a crewman who is in charge of the car’s interior like the seat). They have usually walked the area, so a lot of times I’ll just ask him and he’ll know where the closest bathroom is because he knows I need one right before we go. So the key is the interior guy.
11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?
A lot of money. A ton of money. I mean, I would definitely break my neck on the backflip — like there’s no way I could complete it, so I would need a lot of money to attempt it. NASCAR money. A lot of money. (Laughs)
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Aric Almirola. He has a question about Tanner. So he asks, “What is your favorite way to spend a day with Tanner from start to finish? What would you do in a day that you would both have a great time?”
Good question. We have those days, so it’s actually pretty easy. It has a lot to do with doing things and moving. He really likes going to the race shop; we have kind of our routine, so he has his people that really likes. At the race shop he has Roe (office manager Roseann Greene) and my sister (Shanon Adams) and Lisa (Backer, his longtime manager) and the guys in the shop working on the cars.
Basically we get up, we have breakfast, we watch a little bit of Paw Patrol, go to the race shop for an hour, I get a good workout in, he gets to play with everybody there. And then from there it’s pool time, water, outside, swings, slides — just kind of more than anything, running around playing and enjoying the time. And I don’t mind that either; I like relaxing. So to let him go do his thing and me get to relax and just keep my eye on him is a nice afternoon.
The next interview is with Denny Hamlin. Do you have a question I can ask Denny?
How much time a week does he actually put into the Hoop Group and Golf Guys Tour during those seasons? Because I know he has all kinds of stuff going on to make those things go. So how much actual time is he putting into that? Because I feel like it’s a lot.
It seems like it would be. They have social media accounts, they have all sorts of professional trophies and stuff going on.
Yeah. Trophies, they have dinner outings, they have the full-on tournaments, they have the same with the Hoop Group, I feel like they have gambling. It’s all types of things are wrapped around those two groups. And I think Denny is behind all of it, so he has to be putting in some serious hours.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Kasey Kahne: