Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is already in the Nextel All-Star Challenge and is a former winner, having taken the checkered flag in 2004. He spoke about the race after practice on Friday. MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is already in the Nextel All-Star Challenge and is a former winner, having taken the checkered flag in 2004. He spoke about the race after practice on Friday.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
WHY DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS ALL-STAR RACE SO MUCH? "It's exciting. My favorite thing about it is it includes the team so much. The team is included every week, but they don't necessarily get the recognition as much from the media or the fans. This is really big because they get introduced on the stage before with the driver, and there's a pit stop during qualifying, which is a great thing for me with the way I qualify, so they're just involved a lot more. They had the pit crew competition this week and that's my favorite part about it because they get a lot more recognition than they usually would."
ARE GUYS MORE AGGRESSIVE IN THAT RACE BECAUSE THERE ARE NO POINTS OR IS IT THE SAME AS EVERY WEEK WITH GUYS JUST RACING HARD? "I would say they are a little bit more with guys trying to go a little bit more than what they think they can. They try to get that little bit extra all the time and that's why you see a lot of accidents and a lot of action that you do see, so I think you'll see a lot of that tomorrow, especially with this tire. It's pretty tricky. It's hard to catch it and hard to save it, so I think you'll see a little bit of that."
SO YOU MIGHT TRY TO GO FOR IT A LITTLE MORE TOMORROW AS OPPOSED TO JUST SETTLING FOR A GOOD POINTS DAY IF YOU'RE RUNNING UP FRONT? "Yes and no. If you're in a position to try to win the race, you're gonna run as hard as you can to win that race, but yet if you're running second and the guy in front of you is two-tenths faster and he's driving away, there's nothing you're gonna do to make that up. You've got to be smart enough to do that because if you can't win, there's no sense wrecking. You want to still go try to win, but you don't want to tear anything up for no reason either."
YOU WERE PENALIZED AT THE START OF THE YEAR. WHAT WAS YOUR THOUGHT ABOUT THE 8 CAR PENALTY? "I don't know if everybody saw it and I didn't read the whole thing, but when we showed up Bristol, NASCAR gave us all a bulletin and it basically said what the minimum fine was gonna be for any intentional cheating, or whatever you want to call it, with the COT car and that was the minimum fine -- $100,000 and 100 points and a suspension for the crew chief. We all had that actually in writing sitting on our desk at Bristol. I saw it on Robbie's desk when we got there, so it's not a surprise. That's what they said their minimum penalty was gonna be for any of those type of infractions with that car."
MORE ON THE PENALTY? "I can't comment on whether it's necessary or not, I don't know. I think if you're NASCAR you have to do what you say you're gonna do. That's what they told us they were gonna do in writing before we ever ran that car, so I don't think they really had a choice. I think it said that's the minimum penalty, so if it says that's what the minimum penalty is for intentionally messing with a certain spec part of that car, then that's what they've got to do. How can you say a penalty is gonna be 100 points and fine you 50? I don't know how you can do that."
DO YOU FEEL ROUSH IS CLOSING THE GAP WITH THE COT? "I think we're getting closer. Do I think we're there yet? No, we're not as good as some of those other guys, but I think we're getting a little closer and we're working really hard at it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE JOB NASCAR DOES OFFICIATING RACES? "I think they do a good job of officiating races. I think certainly there are probably times during a race where it gets strung out and maybe they're looking a little harder for debris than other times. If you scan them, you can hear that. They're looking pretty hard to see if there's something because, let's face it, it probably is getting a little boring. We've got to realize that it's a sport. I think they officiate it very fair. I think they make sure that they don't have an outcome in the winners, but I think certainly we all realize it's an entertainment business and they're gonna try to make the races as entertaining as possible, just like trying to get the COT cars all as close as they can to the same. They want the racing to be close and they want it to be entertaining."
DO YOU REALIZE THE FANS SEE THAT AS EVERYTIME THERE'S A CAUTION THAT GOES AGAINST YOU, THEY THINK IT'S BEING DONE TO HURT YOU? "As a driver you always think that too. The first thing that happens is if you're leading and there's 10 to go and you see a caution you're mad. You can come around and there could be 10 cars wrecked on the backstretch and you're still like, 'I can't believe there's a caution.' That's just human nature. Everybody is gonna think that. If it works against you, that's the first thing you're gonna think, and if it works for you, you probably won't say much about it."
IF IT HAPPENS IN A FOOTBALL GAME, THERE'S TWO SIDES AND YOU'RE EITHER FOR IT OR AGAINST IT. HERE THERE ARE 43 TEAMS OUT THERE. "One thing we've got to remember too is that NASCAR has done a lot of work, especially in the last six or seven years, on safety. A lot of times it's not uncommon at all when you listen to the scanners. If there's somebody that needs a caution, they're complaining about debris and NASCAR has got to listen to everybody. The guy who is leading is saying the track is clean and the guy running third is saying there's debris all over the place. They've got to weigh all of that out and they've got to try to spot it themselves and, first of all, they've got to do what's safe for everybody."
IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE. "Yeah, everybody's got a different look at it."
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE SEASON -- AS A WHOLE OR 26 AND 10? "I really take it week by week for our part of it, but I definitely try to keep track of developing stuff for the end of the year and making our stuff better so when we get to the end of the year we've got the best stuff available, but I just kind of take it one week at a time and give it your best every week. I can't think of a week that we were like, 'This week doesn't matter. We'll waste it.' You want to do good every week."
-credit: ford racing