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DRO: Are you ready for this "Forever Red" Tour?

KB: We're really focused on one thing right now, and that's winning the POWERade NHRA championship. Everything else is really secondary. The tour is great and all that, and the fans and sponsors are wonderful. And we're going to do as much of that as we can. The first and foremost thing is to go for the championship, as we do every year. I don't want to say I don't care about the other stuff, but it is secondary right now.

DRO: We've joked, or only half-joked, about how you're stuck competing this season. Expecting you to duplicate the achievements of 2001 is a lot to ask of anyone. Or do you not worry about that, as long as you win?

KB: I feel two ways on that. That was a pretty magical season last year. When you look at all the accomplishments, that's pretty hard to do. To repeat that would be very difficult. You just hope you can win a championship, however it comes out. But I'm comfortable with everything. This year I feel a lot different than last, because we did win last year. So that took a lot of pressure off. Even though this is the last year as a driver, and you think there's a lot of pressure, pressure is really two years when you won only one race. This is easy. Last year's championship and the way we won it, that took a lot of pressure off us all. Yeah, we'll put it back on ourselves as this year progresses. But last year this time I was worried sick about whether we could compete or not. That's a different feel.

DRO: Did you allow yourself any time to enjoy the championship?

KB: At the end of the year, we took a week and went to Hawaii. Tim and Kim (Richards) went. But (work) never stays away far from us. There's so much to do. The off season is so busy, so much going on, and this year particularly so because of the tour. There hasn't been much time at all to really savor it. But just knowing you did it is enough for me.

DRO: Is that your take on the 1996 season, when you won your first Top Fuel title?

KB: I never looked at '96 as a winning year for us. I thought we won the thing with some gray clouds there, which we did. So I never accepted it as our championship. I never did. I always felt it was a battle between Blaine (Johnson) and me, and he was leading at the time (of his death at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis). We won last year fair and square, and accomplished a lot all year. I just felt like in 1996 that Blaine had as much of that trophy as I did.



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