Fontana: Kenseth - Ford Friday interview

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Carhartt Ford Fusion, heads into this weekend's race atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following last Sunday's victory in the Daytona 500. Kenseth won Auto Club Speedway in 2006 and '07. YOU'VE BEEN...

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Carhartt Ford Fusion, heads into this weekend's race atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following last Sunday's victory in the Daytona 500. Kenseth won Auto Club Speedway in 2006 and '07.

YOU'VE BEEN FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE WEST COAST THIS WEEK. HOW DID IT GO? "The week was really fun, actually. It was probably more fun than I expected it to be. I had a really good time, and it was a long week and kind of a tiring week. It was a lot of fun, got to see a lot of people, lot of places, and I probably enjoyed it more than I expected to and probably saw more people than I expected to in different areas as well. The whole week was fun. I'm glad to be back at the race track."

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STORIES FROM THIS WEEK THAT WILL PROBABLY STAY WITH YOU FOR A LONG TIME? "There's a lot of them. Letterman was probably one of the coolest things. Once we started racing and running better, for some reason, I've always been like, 'If I could go on one show, it would be to go on David Letterman and actually be on the couch and talk to him.' I've been able to do the top 10 list a couple of times, the top 12 last year, and that was fun and everything, but you don't even really even meet him, really. They kind of lock the doors and lock you in there; when he runs through he doesn't want to see anybody. So, it's kind of different than I expected. But, to be on there and actually be a guest on Letterman was probably a highlight for me, second to going to Victory Lane and seeing the guys and all of the looks on all of the faces and all of that, was the best part. But that was one of the cool things. The whole week was really good, mostly. Going to San Francisco -- that's one place you go that you never expect, at least I don't, to see very many race fans. You don't really think of it as a racing city and all that, and we actually saw fans all over the place. It really, really surprised me and that was really fun. Got to do a lot of cool things there and take a little time and see some stuff."

NOW THAT YOU'RE THE DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION HOW MUCH BUSIER DO YOU EXPECT TO BE THIS YEAR? "I don't know the answer to that question, to be honest with you. It's been a crazy week, really; a fun week. I've probably enjoyed it and appreciated a lot more since it's been a year since we've won a race, and to win the biggest race was pretty cool. So, I probably enjoyed it a little more because of that. It's easy when things start going well to maybe not let it sink in or not appreciate it when you win or do good as much as if there's a little space in between there. I did enjoy it all a lot. I do look forward to getting on the track here and concentrating on racing again. Have got to be a little bit careful not to enjoy it too much longer; you have to start thinking about the rest of the season and focus on this week, and the tracks are going to be really important to having a successful season. Just winning that race doesn't make you have successful season, so we really need to move on from that. It's a lot different from winning the championship. You had two months to enjoy it and celebrate do all of this crazy stuff, and here you've got a week and you better be pretty tuned in to what you've got going this week and the next 34 after that."

ON LETTERMAN, YOU JOKED ABOUT HIM BEING TOUGH ON DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ARE DRIVERS GOING TO BE HESITANT TO BE CRITICAL OF HIM? AND, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING THROUGH THAT ACCIDENT AT THE DAYTONA 500? "I don't know. I was joking, trying to be funny. I don't have anything to gain by pointing out who I think is wrong or who made a mistake or who caused a wreck or what you have, so if you don't really have anything to gain by it to criticize somebody else for their driving or something is not really something that I need to do. I know that I've made my share of mistakes and my share of controversial stuff, and, you know, your peers are ripping on you because they think you did something wrong. It's not a good feeling, so I don't want to be on that side of that, either. Everybody's going to create their own opinion. I'm glad we made it through the wreck. You always hope there's no wrecks, but just like last year at Talladega, things are going to happen every now and then, and when you're all racing hard, everybody knew that rain was coming, everybody was racing hard to get position in the lead, and those two were racing to get position for the Lucky Dog so they could get back in that thing because they were running out of time."

YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500, BUT WERE NOT PART OF THE POST-RACE CONTROVERSY. IN THIS SPORT, THE WINNER IS OFTEN PART OF THE CONTROVERSY. SO, THAT WORKED OUT WELL FOR YOU. "Yeah. Obviously, if you could script it, you'd probably want to take the white and pass the leader on the last lap and take the checkered and do all of those things. I've been asked a lot about the rain all week, like I said a million times, everybody knew it was going, it wasn't a surprise. It's not like they just stopped the race. Everybody foresaw the rain. In a way, it actually made our job harder, I think. We took the green flag in 43rd and had to get by all of those guys. The race fan part of me likes controversy, but I don't like to be a part of it. Controversy, if I'm not involved, then it's fun to watch, fun to listen you guys talk about it, but when you're one of the people in it, it's not as much fun."

THIS HAS BEEN A VERY HECTIC WEEK FOR YOU. HAS THERE BEEN ANYTHING YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO TO GET PREPARED FOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE? "Just sleep. Just try to eat good and sleep. Actually, I didn't get that great of sleep last night, but I've been getting caught up a little bit. I was fairly tired on Monday and I got a lot of sleep, actually Monday night, and was more tired Tuesday, and then got not that much sleep Tuesday night, a lot Wednesday night, a lot Thursday night and feel like I'm almost back to normal. Probably getting in the car today and getting back to the normal weekend schedule like we do every weekend, besides Daytona, with normal three-day weekends, getting on the track and doing all of that will probably get me more prepared for it than anything else."

WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF YOUR FATHER AND SON TO YOUR WIN? "They were pretty fired up. I talked to my dad a little bit -- he actually talked to me more than I talked to him; he was pretty fired up. Ross was pretty excited, too, obviously. They both wished they would've been there; I wish they would've been there to celebrate and be part of the moment. But it's been such a busy , crazy week I haven't really gotten a chance to talk to them. I talked to my dad and I talked to Ross, they were the first two people I talked to, for a little while -- a lot of emails and text back and forth. I've either been traveling the whole time or on shows the whole time or doing radio shows the whole time, and when I did have a little time to call somebody, I'm in a car full of people, and that's not -- it drives me crazy when people are on their cell phones and the car's full of people, so I don't want to be that guy. It's honestly been pretty busy, and then with the time change out here, I haven't gotten to talk to a whole bunch of people. They were very excited, along with a lot of other people I got messages from."

DID YOU RECEIVE MORE TEXTS, EMAILS OR PHONE CALLS AFTER THE WIN? WHICH WAS THE COOLEST? "More texts and emails -- I don't know which one was the most -- but a lot more of them than phone calls. I guess that's the way it is today. My Sprint Blackberry was vibrating for about 20 minutes straight when I turned it on after the race, so that was pretty cool. I don't have a coolest one. Every one was special in their own way. Whenever someone thinks of you, it's pretty neat. I had lot of them that surprised me, I had a few of them that I kind of expected to hear from, which was cool, but every one, honestly, is special. Whenever anybody congratulates you or thinks about you long enough to send you a message, it always means a lot."

YOUR SPOTTER, MIKE CALINOFF, IS IN THE GARAGE DISPLAYING HIS DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION TATTOO THAT IS ON HIS LEG. HE SAID YOU CHALLENGED HIM TO GET IT. AND, ARE THERE ANY THOUGHTS OF YOURSELF GETTING ONE? "No. I'm not a tattoo guy. I was kind of teasing Mike because I always tease him, but I was really teasing him because the week before we won the championship in '03, which we were able to win a week early, actually, he went and got the championship tattoo put on his leg, and we were in Victory Lane celebrating the championship and he showed us he already had the tattoo, so I asked him Monday if he got the tattoo put on yet, before we won the race -- if he really was a psychic. But, I was just giving him a hard time about it, but it didn't surprise me that he did it."

DOES THE FACT THAT YOU'VE HAD SUCH A GOOD RECORD HERE MAKE IT EASIER TO GO RACING THIS WEEKEND AFTER ALL YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS WEEK? "For sure, it makes me a little more comfortable, and I feel a little better about it than if we were going to one of our more difficult ones, like Martinsville or something like that. You still never know what's going to happen. You can't take it for granted and not work as hard or do any of that and think you're going to coast through it. But, I always have a lot of confidence coming out here. For some reason, our team, typically, maybe not last year, but most every year if you look at our numbers, it seems like we get started off fairly quick and that's kind of been part of the reason that we've had some success. And we were able to do that, obviously, at Daytona, but hopefully we can keep that up. Usually the first part of the season is one of our stronger suits, it seems like. So, hopefully, we can keep that going and get a good finish here this weekend and keep some momentum up."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth