Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has posted eight top-10 finishes in the last nine races to climb from 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings to eighth going into this weekend's race. Kenseth held his Q&A...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has posted eight top-10 finishes in the last nine races to climb from 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings to eighth going into this weekend's race. Kenseth held his Q&A session before Friday's practice sessions at the speedway.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS PLACE? "It's a pretty cool deal coming to Indy, just to be able to race on the track to start with. It's probably our second-biggest race of the year. It's one of the biggest races of the season and it means a lot to come here and race and everybody wants to win."
DO YOU PUT MORE ON THE LINE FOR THIS RACE THAN MAYBE ANOTHER? "No, not really. If you're in position to win at the end of the race, you're always trying as hard as you can to win. I don't think you can try any harder than your hardest, so that's when you're probably gonna end up getting yourself in trouble, so you just go and race as hard as you can like any other race and, hopefully, you're in position at the end to have a shot at it."
WHAT IS THE KEY FOR YOU? "It's a really tough track to pass at, so you've got to have track position. I think that's the biggest thing is trying to get your car positioned so you're in the front or real close to the front at the end."
JACK FAILED TO MENTION JAMIE THIS MORNING WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE TEAM'S FUTURE. IS THERE A SHIFT GOING ON IN THE ORGANIZATION WITH FOUR DRIVERS? "I don't really have any idea to be honest with you. Obviously, there's some affiliation with Yates Racing so we've never talked about it internally. I've never been in any conversations internally about the future and what he plans on doing for teams. Obviously some day they've got to get it whittled down to four, I just assumed one of the teams would end up probably over at Yates, but I don't really know."
HOW DOES JAMIE NAVIGATE THE REST OF HIS SEASON? CAN YOU PUT YOURSELF IN HIS SHOES? "I kind of am in his shoes, honestly. Jamie and I, I think, have the shortest time left on our contracts at Roush and I think they both expire at the same time, so I think that we're kind of in the same boat. Greg and Carl just re-signed long-term and I'm not sure about David's situation, so really I kind of am in the same situation. You're only as good as your last race. I don't think you're ever really secure in your job. You have to perform all the time. It's a performance business and I think we all realize that."
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RANDY MOSS GETTING IN THIS SPORT? "I don't know. You've seen a lot of sports figures come in and out of this sport. I was kind of surprised to see him come in, but I don't know much about it. I don't know if it's just a naming thing. I don't know how much he is involved or not involved, so I don't know. I can't say I've really been surprised. I've seen a lot of professional athletes come in and try it out for a while and see how they like it or how much money they lose or how it works."
IS IT GOOD FOR THE SERIES? "I think anytime you get any big name person from the business world or the sports world coming into this sport it has to be good for the sport. It has to get more attention, if there are Patriots fans or Randy Moss fans out there and they say he's interested in NASCAR and he's an owner in NASCAR, they're probably gonna pay more attention to the sport."
IS QUALIFYING KEY TOMORROW? "I hope not because we just drew 46th. Qualifying here is always, in general, kind of silly because the weather, in general, it's just such a big advantage to go out early than last. It's at least half-a-second difference from first to last and you never want to be that guy that draws in the back, but you never know. I heard there's a chance of weather tomorrow, so we'll have to see what happens with all that. It's still 400 miles. Even though it's a difficult place to pass at, it's still 400 miles so if you have a good car you should be able to get to the front."
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW CAR HERE? "I still feel good about it, although to this track -- not to cry about stuff -- but I feel we have a fair disadvantage. None of the Fords came and did the tire test. We had one Hendrick car, one Toyota and I think one Dodge do it, so everybody kind of has data except for us, so we don't really have any speeds or loads on the car to look at from the tire test. This will be our first time on the track, so I think if we can get the car close and sort it out right away, I think we'll be OK. I think most of the tracks we ran good with old cars and when we came with these cars we still ran OK and ran decent at tracks like Michigan and California and Vegas -- stuff like that. So I feel good about it and as long as we get all of our practice, we'll be OK."
MARK MARTIN'S DEMEANOR HAS CHANGED TO MORE OF AN OPTIMIST THE LAST FEW YEARS. HAS A SWITCH GONE ON? "When I met Mark the whole time I was there he always contended for championships and wins, but when I met Mark he was kind of a pessimist. He wasn't always down, he was always in a good mood, but he was like, 'Aw, man, I can't believe I've got to do that. I hate doing that. The schedule is too long. I can't wait to get a break. This is terrible. Man, we ran terrible,' and he finished third. Stuff like that. Then about four years ago he just flipped a switch and it was the total opposite -- everything was great, everything was fun, he couldn't wait to get to the track, everything was great. I don't know what transformed him, but he had a transformation somewhere between the day I met him and about three or four years ago."
SO IN FIVE YEARS THAT SWITCH WILL GO ON FOR YOU? (Laughing) "I don't know about that. I don't think I'm really that much of a pessimist, but I'm kind of a realist. I kind of like to do things first and talk about them later and not talk about them first and then try to do them. I feel like it always sets me up to fail, so I would rather go do it first. I don't know. I've been in a pretty good mood lately, so I don't know that I need a big mood change, but he definitely went through one for sure. He's pretty happy about everything, which is good to see. He's been super-enthused. He loved doing the part-time deal. At first I never thought he'd quit doing the full-time deal and then once he started the part-time deal he was so happy that I never thought he'd go back and do the full-time deal. I know he's looking forward to next year and I'm curious to see what he feels like at this time next year after doing the whole thing and having to go to Martinsville and Talladega and maybe the places he doesn't like going to."
WHAT MAKES ROBBIE REISER SO GOOD AT WHAT HE DOES? "Robbie has always been a great organizer and a great leader -- great at figuring out how to make things work with people. As general manager of the shop, instead of being in charge of 30 people on the 17, now he's in charge of 400 people. He's just always been really good at that stuff, so I think that all the guys come walking in and see how much more organized everything is and how much things flow a lot smoother than maybe what they used to is probably what they mean."
DID THE SWITCH HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR SLOW START? "I don't think so. Daytona, I thought we had a car that was capable of probably actually winning and we got ran over. The 6 car wrecked us and got taken out and then we finished in the top five at California and were running second with two to go at Vegas and the 24 wiped us out when he had his problem, so we got wrecked two out of the first three races when we were running in the top five in all three of them. I don't know that we really would have that slow of a start. We just had a lot of problems here and there, but Chip has been there since we started the deal with Robbie and Chip has been a huge part of making the cars run the whole time for the last nine years, so that's really kind of been a non-issue."
WHERE DID YOUR TURNAROUND START? "I guess probably Darlington. At Darlington we ran pretty good. I still think we had some problems, I can't remember what it was but we went to the back and then were able to work our way back through there and get a good finish. That was kind of the start of us running better and not shooting ourselves in the foot and doing that type of thing."
DO YOU THINK IT'S JUST A FLUKE THAT ROUSH HASN'T WON HERE? "I don't know if it's a fluke. I guess we have been coming here a long time. I've seen Mark run really, really good here a lot of times and be really close. I've seen Jeff Burton be really close a bunch of times. In the near past, I can't remember. I know we've had really good cars at times and have never quite been able to pull it off or get it figured out, so I don't know. Hopefully it's just a matter of time."
WOULD IT BE A BIG DEAL FOR JACK TO WIN HERE? "I would assume so. I know it would be to me and I'm sure the other drivers. It's one of the biggest races of the year. The Daytona 500 and the Brickyard, if you can win one of those races, obviously that does a lot for your season and does a lot for the team."
- credit: ford racing