Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into tomorrow night's race. He spoke about Darlington during his weekly hauler chat after Friday's practice. MATT ...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into tomorrow night's race. He spoke about Darlington during his weekly hauler chat after Friday's practice.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS THIS THE CLOSEST THING TO ROCKINGHAM? "Yeah, it's about 50 miles (laughing). Probably because of the pavement and kind of the way you drive it, yeah, it's probably the closest you get to Rockingham."
IS THIS PLACE ABOUT TIRES, TIRES, TIRES? "Yeah, there are several things. You're always thinking about the tires, but you're also, at the same time, thinking about not bouncing off the fence too. You always have to remember to race the track and not get caught up racing someone else and getting yourself in trouble."
IS A WIN HERE A BIG DEAL? "You'd have to ask somebody who has won (laughing). It still would be huge to win here. To me it's not quite the same significance as what it was on Labor Day and the Southern 500, but when I started racing Nextel Cup if I could pick out three or four races to win it would be the Southern 500, the World 600 in Charlotte, the Daytona 500 and probably the Brickyard. Those are probably the top four races that if you could pick races to win that I would want to win. Obviously any win is a big win in this series. It's very difficult to do, but this is certainly a special place and if you can win here it's pretty cool."
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT DARLINGTON GROWING UP? "As much as I watched racing I certainly watched this race before and heard about this race even being up in Wisconsin, so it's definitely one of the more famous places we have left."
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO IT WAS ON THE ENDANGERED LIST AND NOW THERE ARE LIGHTS AND NEW GRANDSTANDS. YOUR THOUGHTS. "It's always a good race. I've always thought there have been decent crowds here, so with one race a year instead of two and no races at Rockingham, which is real nearby, there should be bigger crowds than what they were used to."
HOW WILL TOYOTA'S ENTRANCE AFFECT THE OVERALL SPORT? "I don't think it changes things as much as it used to just because of all the rules and the common templates. If they came in with a brand new car and they designed the whole thing, I think there might be more to worry about. But certainly when you watch what they've done in the Truck Series it's certainly something to be a little concerned about because they seem to definitely be on top of their game and their stuff runs really, really good. I think their stuff is gonna run really good, but NASCAR is gonna keep a pretty close eye on them and keep the rules pretty tight I think."
FOR ENOUGH MONEY WOULD YOU CONSIDER GOING TO DRIVE FOR THEM? "Not today. No, not today. It's about performance. I think some people probably are gonna do that because of that part of it. I think some people are maybe gonna go other places if the performance is there, but everybody does pretty good in this sport and it's all about trying to run up front and win. If you can't do that, I don't know why you'd be doing it."
WHAT'S BEEN THE DIFFERENCE TO YOUR START THIS SEASON? "Except for last year, a couple of years before that we had pretty strong starts and it feels a little bit like that. We started off running good right away. I just hope we can keep it up. Those years when we started real strong we kind of didn't run as strong in the middle of the season, so I'm hoping we can keep our stuff going and hopefully get a few more wins this year."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE CHASE COME TO THE BUSCH SERIES? "I don't know. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I think that a good thing for that series would be to separate them for about five races -- make them race on the same day we do but on the other coast or something like that. When Cup used to run in Sears Point, they would be running Watkins Glen on the same day, but earlier in the day with the time change. I think that would be the best thing. It would be a little harder for a Nextel Cup driver and a Nextel Cup team to go over there and win a championship. It would give the regulars a little bit better chance and make the guys over here that did want to do it make some hard choices."
THIS TRACK HAS A LOT OF HISTORY. "There are a lot of tracks we go to that have a lot of history and this is obviously one of them. They've been racing here a long time and it's one of the places where it started, but yet there are a lot of them around, too. Obviously we've lost a few of them, but coming here and Daytona and Charlotte -- places like that -- you definitely feel the roots of the sport and when it started from. You can look in the garage area here and still feel it. I love the old garage area and the old metal stands up there. It kind of gives you the feel and kind of brings you back to that kind of racing."
HOW MUCH RESPECT DO YOU HAVE TO SHOW THIS TRACK? "There is a lot to keep an eye on here. The tires drop off a lot and as you go into a run it's easy to slip up and get into somebody or the wall usually. It's definitely one of those tracks you have to pay attention to because 500 miles is a long time at this track. You've got a little bit more room for error at night time than you do during the day, but it's still gets real slick and you've got to pay a lot of attention."
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A ROOKIE HERE? "I think you need to get that from someone else. The first couple times we came here we ran really well and since then we haven't really run that good here, so I'm actually looking for some."