Ford Racing Daytona pre-season test teleconference: Kenseth

Ford Racing press release

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season got started in earnest Thursday afternoon when cars hit the track for Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. The main focus of the test is for teams to work on their final preparations for 2012 Speedweeks – in particular, the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26. Teams will also implement and test the new Daytona rules package for 2012 which came as a result of information gathered during recent tests at Talladega last October and at Daytona last November. Matt Kenseth took time to talk about the test and rules changes with media members Thursday afternoon.

Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Best Buy/Valvoline Ford Fusion

YOU HAVE WON THE DAYTONA 500, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR A DRIVER TO GET THAT PRESTIGIOUS TROPHY? “That was huge for us obviously winning that race. It is a very unique and different race but it is still the sports biggest race of the year. I think everybody that ever grew up watching stock car racing or wanted to race stock cars has dreamed of winning the Daytona 500 so that was certainly a cool day.”

DALE JUNIOR SAYS YOU OWE HIM $2,500 FOR A BET. DO YOU HAVE HIS $2,500? “How did I know that was going to be the first question? I will try to scrounge it up somewhere I guess. This should count though; this is like three days (beard growth). Back when he was younger he would have had enough beers in him that he wouldn’t have remembered that.”

TELL US ABOUT THE BET. WHAT ARE THE DETAILS? “Well, I kind of grew a beard in the off season for awhile, for a couple reasons. He had a ‘70’s party and I put a picture on Twitter so I am sure you saw it but I had a fu manchu going and the pork chop things. He bet me that I wouldn’t keep at least the fu manchu through the test. I was actually going to and it looked really stupid but I hate losing any money and he kept upping the money and upping the money until finally I said okay. I checked first to make sure I didn’t have any photos and then I get a call saying that I had a photo shoot here and an interview there and anyway I guess I lost. Although technically this should count, it is three days old.”

YOU HAVE BEST BUY NOW AS A SPONSOR, HOW DOES YOUR SPONSORSHIP SITUATION STAND NOW AND ARE YOU AS CONCERNED NOW AS YOU WERE AT THE END OF LAST YEAR? “I am really excited that Best Buy has come on board for nine races. That is a good start. They have a lot of races that are empty on our car, still two-thirds of the season, but I am grateful they came on for the Daytona 500 to get us started and are an associate on our car all year. They are with Carl’s car too. They have been a great sponsor of the sport and been around a long time and I am proud to fly those colors and hopefully we can have some success with them.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THE DYNAMIC WILL CHANGE AT ROUSH WITH ONLY THREE CUP CARS THERE THIS SEASON? “I don’t know that it will change a lot. It is still pretty big. We have the three cars and Ricky is running some races, at least the 500 he is here testing, and you still have the two Petty cars in there too. I guess if there is anything to be concerned or to think about it is the important people we have lost through the off season. People in the organization that had access to everything and are now pretty much at every single different team in the garage. Anything you had that you maybe thought was an advantage last year with things we learned have disappeared. That will make us work extra hard to find something that is better to get an edge on some of those guys again.”

A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT SPREAD OUT THROUGH THE GARAGE TO OTHER TEAMS. WHAT WILL THAT DO TO COMPETITION? CAN IT MAKE IT EVEN CLOSER THAN LAST YEAR? “The more rules they make and the more people that leave and come and go and do all that stuff certainly makes it more even or gets information around the garage. It seems like there has been some downsizing and less teams. It will be different. I think the competition has been great and I think will be as even as it was. I don’t know how anybody is going to get a big advantage, at least for very long this day in age with all these rules anyway. It won’t spread the field apart farther.”

DOES THE CAR FEEL DIFFERENT WITH THE FUEL INJECTION AND SMALLER SPOILER AND ALL THAT? “Well, we are doing single car runs so it is hard to tell as far as handling or anything like that. Our speeds are way up compared to what we are used to doing the last couple years. I am interested to see if they try to race this restrictor plate I think we will be going really fast. I have seen 195 on the straightaway today by yourself and if you get locked together you probably to another 10 miles per hour. That I think the cars will have to handle. I am anxious to get into a group and see what it is like and if you can draft normal and if it is going to be two cars. I am anxious to see that and feel it from the car and what the handling is like. I like the ideas they have come up with as far as the smaller spoiler and going faster and trying to make the cars handle because it is going to be hard to make them not handle here because of the new pavement but if you can make them not handle it is going to be harder to push someone around the track.”

CAN YOU COMMENT ON TWITTER, YOUR ROLE, WHAT IT DOES FOR NASCAR AND FOR YOU? “I don’t know. It seems to be kind of the, I don’t want to say the craze, but it is a new outlet to reach more people. I think everyone is using that, not just in NASCAR but all sports. It seems less people pick up the phone and talk face to face. More people text and tweet and Facebook and all that stuff. I guess it is just the way it is. I have enjoyed it as a different avenue to interact with my fans mostly and show a different side of me. More than anything I use it to interact with the fans more than I can at the race track when I am pretty focused on what I am doing and more serious. I think it kind of gives me a chance to pick it up or put it down whenever and interact with them a little.”

ISN’T GETTING THE CAR NOT TO HANDLE WELL CONTRARY TO WHAT MOST RACE CAR DRIVERS WANT AND IS THAT THE SECRET TO THE DRAFT? “You still want your car to handle better than everybody else’s but in general if everyone can hold it wide open, even if their car isn’t set up as good as somebody else, everyone can do it without thinking about it then it makes everyone group up more or push more. If you look at a few years ago, probably two or three years ago on new tires everyone could run wide open and it was two or three-wide and a crazy race. Then it was two wide, then single wide and you would see the cars that could handle really good could almost pass by themselves without someone drafting. From most drivers point of views I think that was the most fun restrictor plate racing that we had. I don’t think you are going to get it back like that for probably not as long as I drive because it will take a long time to run the tracks down that much to where they slip and slide that much, unless they get a really small hard tire on them or something. If you are having a hard time getting around a corner by yourself you can’t get pushed or you will get spun out. I think that is some of the idea of putting a smaller spoiler on there is to make them a little harder to drive.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Tags daytona, ford, kenseth, roush