Daytona II: Kenseth - Thursday Ford interview

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 R+L Carriers Ford Fusion, is in third place in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings heading into Saturday night's Pepsi 400. Kenseth has one victory and 11 top-10s through the first 17 races of the season. MATT...

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 R+L Carriers Ford Fusion, is in third place in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings heading into Saturday night's Pepsi 400. Kenseth has one victory and 11 top-10s through the first 17 races of the season.

MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 R+L Carriers Ford Fusion

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN THE RACING HERE BETWEEN THE DAYTONA 500 IN FEBRUARY AND THE PEPSI 400 IN JULY? "The races aren't a lot different, it's more slick, it's a lot hotter at the track. The harder tire that we ran in February was pretty slick as well, so handling is probably a little bit more important here, so other than that, the race is the same."

WHO ARE THE GUYS TO BEAT? "Probably the same guys you always look to beat at these restrictor-plate races; the Childress cars run all right. I think the Hendrick cars have been really strong lately, and Dale Junior is always strong here, so, you know, at Daytona or Talladega anybody can really get it, it all depends on how the race goes. I think handling will be really important unless you get a real short run at the end. You can have a car that's not real fast and handles good, and if you get enough green-flag laps you've got a chance at it, too."

ON THIS BEING THE LAST RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACE WITH THE CURRENT CAR. "I don't know. It's hard to compare it to what the COT car is going to be because I haven't run it at a superspeedway yet; we haven't done any racing. So, we'll have to see. If anywhere the COT doesn't make much difference it should be Daytona and Talladega. These cars are pretty close to same, anyway. So, we'll have to see what it's like."

BACK IN FEBRUARY, WHEN THE SEASON OPENED HERE, IF SOMEONE WOULD'VE TOLD YOU THAT YOU'D BE THIRD IN THE STANDINGS AND COMFORTABLE IN THE CHASE WHEN THE SERIES RETURNED IN JULY, WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN COMFORTABLE WITH THAT PREDICTION? "You mean like how the year's gone? Well, yeah. Obviously, we're happy with where we are in the standings -- it's the third-best spot to be, I guess -- but, certainly, we'd like to be running just a little bit better. But, so far, the year's been pretty good."

HAS THE YEAR GONE THE WAY YOU EXPECTED IT TO, OR HAS THERE BEEN ANYTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY? "This year, especially, I don't think you ever really know exactly what to expect -- especially this year with the COT cars, and some of the different stuff going on."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth