Fontana: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 HOW GOOD IS THIS TEAM? ROBBIE REISER: "It's very good. Obviously watching today and the car they brought here and the way they operated on pit road, they're here to race and they're here to win races and the...

Continued from part 1

HOW GOOD IS THIS TEAM?

ROBBIE REISER: "It's very good. Obviously watching today and the car they brought here and the way they operated on pit road, they're here to race and they're here to win races and the championship this year. I think they're determined to do that with what they showed up with at Daytona and what they had here today is championship caliber. Hopefully we can keep that momentum and keep doing what we're doing."

HOW DOES THIS TRACK COMPARE TO THE VEGAS TRACK?

JACK ROUSH: "It's obviously a half-mile shorter at Vegas. It's very similar in terms of the car that they would use. I think that Greg has made the decision to take his same car. They've got two weeks to turn it around. I think they'll take his same car. The Busch cars we ran last night, we're gonna take a number of those cars back again to the next race. Las Vegas is very similar. We didn't test as well as I'd hope to based on the way we ran last year here and there. I hoped to go out to Las Vegas and be dominant with the cars and we weren't. We were just competitive. It didn't look like we gained any on our competition. In fact, it looked like they gained on us, but when the green flag drops it may look a little better. We think we'll be really competitive, but I'm not as optimistic about Las Vegas as I am about the prospect of coming back here in the fall."

IS THIS WEEKEND A TESTAMENT THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER?

JACK ROUSH: "We finished last year the strongest we've ever been. Ford gave us a new Fusion and a new F-150. Looking at all three races the new F-150 configuration on the nose for 2006, the hardware has never been better. We by and large got our crews intact. We've had some personnel turnover, but it's been in situations where there was probably a time for a change, where people were ready for a new challenge. As big as we are, we didn't have exactly the opportunity they were looking for, so some people left and had they stayed I think they wouldn't have been as challenged as the people that have now got their spot. But we're a big, deep, broad organization that has got a lot of resources and the managers. I look to Robbie as being senior among all the crew chiefs. He leads cadence on them and helps with the staffing of not only the 17 team but of all the teams and then the general managers and finance people are all lined up too. We're organized to be a form follows function company. The things that happen on the race track are what determines what all of our strategies are and everybody gets it from the bottom to the top. I wouldn't predict that we'd put all five cars in the top 10 by the end of 26 races this year, but certainly our chances of doing that are better than they were a year ago."

IS THIS THE GREATEST DEPTH OF INFORMATION AND TALENT YOU'VE WORKED WITH AT ROUSH?

ROBBIE REISER: "I think we build every year. I think that the knowledge that we had last season to where we are this season becomes greater. We're always adding to the resources that we have. We're adding to the people we have. We're beefing up the engineering staff. We're working on the car, so, yeah, the pool gets bigger and bigger and bigger the more we build on it."

YOU'RE OFF TO A FAST START.

MATT KENSETH: "Yeah, it feels good to get off to a good start. Last year we didn't, but a couple of years before that we did and it certainly helped us both seasons. I think we won early in '03 and '04, so hopefully we can keep it up all the way through the year -- keep the same level of energy and excitement and work on the cars and doing all the stuff that we are right now, and the level of performance all the way through the year. It's definitely a big confidence builder as a driver to get in cars. Things change every year. You keep developing different stuff and it always feels good to start off the year having your car balanced right and driving the way it's supposed to and doing all those things. It gives you a lot of confidence going into the year that what you did over the winter and what Robbie did over the winter and everybody was right and they build you the right cars and they build you stuff that's gonna run fast and run up front, so I think it's a big plus to start off strong especially performance-wise and not necessarily finish-wise. In my opinion, even Greg has started off strong. He led all those races. He knows he has fast cars and if you've got cars that will run up front, you're gonna get your share of good finishes and hopefully win."

DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE HELD BIFFLE OFF IF NOT FOR THE ENGINE ISSUE?

MATT KENSETH: "I was sort of planning on running second, really. Greg was the class of the field all day. We were pretty good on a short run, usually, and then we would get too tight and we would fade. We made some adjustments on that last pit stop and the car was a lot looser than what we started most of the day and that gave me confidence for the long run, but I don't know. Greg was pretty quick on a longer run and I never really had the opportunity to race with him during the day or to keep up with him at all. When he was back there I fully assumed he was gonna run us down on a long run and pass us, but I did try to get by Gordon as quick as I could and try to get in between us to try and get some distance in case there wasn't a caution. I don't know what would have happened, but Greg had a pretty strong car today."

WHAT HAPPENED FOR GREG TO COME OUT THIRD ON HIS LAST STOP?

JACK ROUSH: "I wasn't in Greg's pit so I couldn't say. I wasn't down there so I really don't know. I assume they just had a little problem with one of the tires, but I'm not sure."

HE FADED AFTER THAT. WAS THAT WHEN THE ENGINE PROBLEM HAPPENED?

JACK ROUSH: "Yeah, I'd be amazed if the engine problem was associated with the pit stop. It could have been that he got it in the wrong gear, but they'll look at the rpm trace and see what it shows. I feel like there was a part that had 490 race miles in it and we had a 500-mile race."

MATT KENSETH: "I think that on Greg's pit stop that he didn't really have a problem. He had been coming out first all day, but we had an exceptional pit stop. It was really, really fast and I came down pit road right on Greg's bumper so we only beat him by a car length out of the pits and a car length is only a couple of tenths of a second on a pit stop, so I think we just had an exceptional pit stop and then Gordon beat us both out because he got two tires, so I think he probably had a pretty solid pit stop."

WHAT DID YOU AND TONY SAY TO EACH OTHER YESTERDAY AND WILL HE SHOW UP AT YOUR DAD' S TRACK IN MADISON LATER THIS YEAR?

MATT KENSETH: "I hope so for my dad's sake (laughing). I don't really want to get into too much of what happened last week, but we did have a talk yesterday and I think we understand each other better after we talked. Everything is gonna be fine on the track. As you saw today we passed each other two or three times and gave each other room and did everything just like we did every other race before last week. It's water under the bridge and this was a much better week for us."

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN TONY'S ENGINE WENT AND CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE EMPTY SEATS?

MATT KENSETH: "I don't think I should touch that one. I really loved Rockingham, so you're asking the wrong person about that. I love coming to California, but when we went to Rockingham it's just an awesome race track. You could really race there like we used to race -- spinning the tires and short track type racing. It was like a week off after being in Daytona for two weeks. I love this place, but I loved going there too. I have no idea on the rest of it."

JACK ROUSH: "Los Angeles is a huge, huge market. It's important to NASCAR. It's important to all of our sponsors. We've got a reason to want to be here. We need to be here twice a year, but we are building the event. There are people that came for the second event last year that hadn't reconciled themselves to buy tickets for the spring event or winter event here, but we have the kind of racing that we're having and gets the coverage that I'm sure that it will receive over a period of time and we'll be able to fill the stands and then in short order they'll be building more stands. That's NASCAR's way. If you look at Bristol or Michigan or any of these race tracks that have been around for a while, they just keep building stands in consideration for the ticket sales opportunity they have. This is a big race track. It's a two-mile race track and they've already got a lot of stands up and they'll continue to build it here and it'll be just fine."

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE OFF WEEK?

MATT KENSETH: "I don't know what I'm gonna do this weekend. I have something to do a week from Monday and this week for the off week I've been trying to do some flight training and learn how to fly, so I'm gonna go to school to get my multi-engine rating -- hopefully get it -- so I'm going to school Tuesday through Friday and that's basically my plan for the off week. My training is gonna be in a Piper Seminole to get my multi-engine rating."

ANY CONCERN WHEN YOU SAW BIFFLE'S ENGINE GO THAT YOURS MIGHT BE NEXT?

MATT KENSETH: "No, not for me at all. I might be wrong on this, but I think when we blew up at Daytona last year was that our only engine failure all year throughout the whole Roush-Yates thing?"

JACK ROUSH: "Yeah, I forgot about that. We were perfect last year."

MATT KENSETH: "The stuff runs awesome and the reliability has been really good, so I wasn't worried. There are a lot of moving parts in those things and to have one little thing go wrong or a part you get from a manufacturer go bad or whatever the case may be, you're gonna have it now and then and I certainly didn't think it was a problem with all the teams or you would have seen more than that a lot earlier."

JACK ROUSH: "With NASCAR's gear rule in particular, I was not a fan of the gear rule, but it has stopped us from pushing the envelope. There was a time when you'd have the latest new valve spring or the latest cam shaft and you'd be trying to go for a little more rpm and that's when Rick got his problem and, of course, we had our problem where we've had three or four fail in a given race. But that's always when you're pushing the envelope, but the envelope has tightened up enough now that we're really in a comfort zone that we expect the engines to finish."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup