“I'm excited,” said Kasey Kahne on NASCAR's annual media day. “The alliance with Roush Yates is something I look forward to and I think the engine here will be awesome compared to what I've had in the past. That's really exciting, coming to Daytona and knowing you have a great shot at qualifying well, you have a great shot at running good.”
In a NASCAR off-season largely devoid of big name, big money moves Richard Petty Motorsports' (RPM) switch from Dodge to Ford and a merger with Yates Racing is going to be one of the most noticeable changes on the track.
The move sees 2009 RPM alumni Kahne, Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger make the move, joining Paul Menard in a new four car team.
And with the traditional season opener at Daytona barely a week away the merger could bring early success, thanks to the legendary Yates engines.
“You're gonna be pushing down even harder because you know what's under your right foot,” says A.J. Allmendinger. “It was something that for the last three races of the season last year I got to feel, and when you've got Doug Yates building your horsepower and everybody at that engine shop, you know getting in the race car that's something that you don't have to worry about.”
Allmendinger got an early taste of the future, running a Ford for the final three races of last year. “It took us last year from running 15th-20th to running 8th-12th – just by putting a bigger motor in our race car.”
Kahne on the other hand is yet to feel the Ford in a competitive outing, though he is debuting the Budwieser back Fusion in this weekend's Budweiser Shootout. He has, however, had a chance to test the car as part of one of NASCAR's regular tyre tests.
“When I got into that car I was hoping because I've been saying it for years that I felt we were behind, and I was really hoping that I would be able to feel it and, no kidding, before I was in fourth gear I could already feel it, and then when I got to speed I could feel it as well. It was pretty neat.”
“That was my first time with the Roush Yates Ford engine and I was really impressed with the torque and the horsepower off the corner, and then at the very end of the straightaway with how it ran. Those are things I get to look forward to going to Vegas and going back to California and Atlanta – some of the tracks I really enjoy. I'm excited. I'm excited to have a shot.”