This Week in Ford Racing
July 5, 2005
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Tools Taurus, has had an unlucky 2005 season to this point as he goes into this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Chicagoland Speedway 19th in the standings. Lately, however, Kenseth and his team have shown signs of turning things around with three top-10 finishes in the last five races, including a ninth-place run Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth, a native of Wisconsin, along with crew chief Robbie Reiser, spoke about returning to the Midwest for Sunday's annual race.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus
AS A MIDWESTERN GUY IT MUST BE NICE TO GET BACK TO CHICAGO, WHICH ISN'T FAR FROM WHERE YOU GREW UP. "Yeah, it's the closest we come. I haven't spent a whole bunch of time, but about three hours north of there is where I grew up and did most of my racing. We raced a lot around there at Rockford and Garvey and a lot of the tracks in that area, so it's fun to go back there. We get a lot of people from Wisconsin that come down and see a lot of fans that used to watch us race - and see a lot of family and friends - so it's always fun."
HAVE THE WINTERS AGED THAT TRACK TO WHERE THIS MIGHT BE THE BEST RACE WE'VE SEEN SINCE IT OPENED? "You never know. I think every year it's gotten a little better and it should continue to get a little bit better, but the rules changed and the tires changed, too. I don't know. It was real weird at Michigan. At Michigan you can usually run right up by the wall or right on the bottom, and the middle was about the highest groove that came in and we're running the same tire, so I don't know. I don't really know what to expect. Hopefully, there will be two grooves where you can pass."
DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM HAS TURNED THE CORNER? "I hope so. I feel like we've been running a little bit better the last few weeks and our consistency has been a little better, and we've had some decent fortune the last few weeks. Although it still could have been better. All of those guys could have run out of gas at Infineon (laughing), so there are still things that could have been better for us, but I definitely feel like the last few weeks have been better than the beginning of the year for sure. We've just got to keep working on it and try to get our performance better and try to finish better."
DO YOU EVEN LOOK AT THE CHASE AND WHETHER OR NOT THAT'S STILL A POSSIBILITY? "Really, you try to lead a lap if you can lead a lap, or lead some laps, and you try to finish as high as you can every week. Everybody talks about it and everybody needs to have something to talk about like there's a magic formula, but the magic formula is to perform good. If you perform good and run good and finish good, you're gonna get a lot of points and that's just what we need to do. We just have to go every week and concentrate on trying to perform good and get good finishes."
HOW IS MORALE ON THE TEAM? "I think everything is good. There have been a lot of changes that have been somewhat distracting, although you wouldn't know it from all of Roush's numbers this year, but with trying to consolidate and move all the teams into one building there's been a lot of chaos going on over there. That's been a lot for those guys to do and I think that's been more distracting than anything. I think everybody is alright. Everybody was pumped up after Michigan. We ran competitively all day and ran in the top five and didn't have anything go wrong and felt good about that. We had a top 10 at Dover and then went to the road course and got our best finish we've ever had at Infineon, so I think everybody feels good. We just know that we've got to keep running better. I think we had a great car at Daytona and I think we'll be OK for Chicago. We'll just keep working on it."
ROBBIE REISER, Crew Chief - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT CHICAGO AS FAR AS THE RACING GOES? "I don't look for that track to be much different. The stuff we did at Michigan will probably be somewhat close to what we do at Chicago. We ran real good at Michigan and we'll probably try to use some of the setup stuff from there to try to help us at Chicago."
THOUGHTS OF GOING BACK TO CHICAGO; IT'S NOT THAT FAR FROM MILWAUKEE. "Between Chicago and Indy I like going back there. Obviously, friends and family always come to those races so it's fun to go back there."
DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS TURNING THE CORNER? "We really haven't had that bad of a year. Our finishes just don't show it because we've had things go wrong that haven't helped us, but we've been running well. There are only about three or four races that we just haven't run well, but, other than that, we've been up front in a bunch of races and we've just had trouble. It's probably the best team I've ever had, we just have to get to the finish line with this group that's all."
IS IT A CASE OF USING UP ALL YOUR GOOD LUCK IN 2003? "I never saw anybody win a championship without luck. Tell me the first champion that won it with bad luck. That's just the way you've got to look at it. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't, and it always seems to work in a series of things. When it's going right, it goes right. When it's going bad, it goes bad. We were seventh at Dover and fourth at Michigan and 11th at Infineon, so those are finishes a lot of guys would take. I think we're starting to get where we need to be."
HAVE YOU HAD TO BE A CHEERLEADER TO KEEP THIS TEAM UP? "A lot of guys would tell you, 'yeah,' but this group has been brought up with a lot of short-track races and these guys know that you're gonna have peaks and valleys. I don't think any of them got down. I think all of them realize we've got a team here that can win races and they've been just sticking with it."