2006 ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD PRESS CONFERENCE
Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer
Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
MODERATOR: The runner-up in the DeWalt Power Tools Ford, that's Matt Kenseth. In third place, running a strong race in the #29 Reese's GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, was Kevin Harvick. And in fourth place in and our Raybestos Top Rookie, with a strong performance out there his first trip around the Brickyard in the #07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet, Clint Bowyer. Let's start with opening comments by Matt, Kevin and Clint. Matt, take us through the race out there this afternoon.
KENSETH: Take you through the whole race?
MODERATOR: Your comments. Summarize the race.
KENSETH: We had a pretty solid day. It seemed like most of the day, the #31 and the #29 were better, and we kind of gauged off of them. Kevin was still better than us at the end, but it seemed like we started to get better than the #31, and the #48 came out of nowhere and blew by us and won the race.
MODERATOR: Kevin, if you could have some comments.
HARVICK: Well, my day was really good. We had a good car all day. We were able to go up and lead laps and keep the car up front all day. The guys did a great job, and we just got back there. We knew we needed four tires at the end and couldn't afford to gamble with everything that was going on. We thought that was our best chance to win the race. They just got through traffic a little better, and we just finished third. So, we didn't have anything for the #48, he (Johnson) pretty much had us covered.
MODERATOR: Clint, tell us about your first run around the Brickyard today.
BOWYER: It was good. It was fun to come here and qualify on the front row and finish in the top five. It was a struggle. The boys had a bit of a rough time in the pits. But them boys were under a lot of stress coming to a race like this sitting on the pole (front row), and they do a lot of things right and I'm not going to bad mouth them whatsoever. But, we had a great day, I'm really proud of Gil (Martin) for making a gutsy call, and it paid off.
MODERATOR: OK, if you have a question, raise your hand and we will bring a microphone to you.
Q: Matt, the race was decided in the last eight or 10 laps in the last restart, and you had a little bit of a lead there and Johnson got by you. What happened there on that restart?
KENSETH: He just got through traffic better than us. You know, we beat him out of the pits. The cars with two tires were bottling up a little bit, and they were two-wide going into Turn 2, and I chose the bottom and drove under Nemechek. And I lost all of my momentum coming down the straightaway and he got to the outside pushing someone and someone pushing him and just got by me and Travis (Kvapil). He just did a better job being in the right place and getting through those cars. He just chose the opposite lane I did and just got through there quicker.
Q: Kevin, it looked like a race there between you and Burton for the first third of the race. Did anything happen in particular? Was Jimmie (Johnson) just a sleeper in there because he got set back there?
HARVICK: Yeah. I thought that the race was going to come down to Matt and myself, and the #48 appeared out of nowhere. I thought that he was a couple of laps down because he had a left-front flat and was sure he tore the fender off. But, it didn't drag anything off, the caution came out and everything worked out really good for him. I told Matt. I don't even know how I could have adjusted my car because he went by me so fast. I couldn't even analyze what he was doing. It was just one of those deals that they hit. I mean, I can't complain because we hit it last night, and sometimes you just hit it and everything goes good. He just beat us today.
Q: Dave Kallman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Matt, your finishes here the past five years, I think the worst was 16th, and I think that was the year you were running second and hit the big chunk of stuff. Is it starting to get frustrating coming that close in this big race without winning? Or is it just pretty neat to be so consistent at such a big race?
KENSETH: You always want to win. There can only be one guy that wins every Sunday. It feels pretty good to be that competitive when we come here we've always had pretty competitive cars, but we just haven't been able to finish it off. I think a couple of times we've had a car good enough to, but we've had circumstances that keep us from doing it. There have been other times where we've been in position, but we haven't had the car, you know, as good as the winner. It always seems that there is one guy that will really hit it. You know, we get ourselves good enough to where we can run in the top five or top six, but it always seems like there is that one or two guys at the end of the race that are just really hooked up. Like Kevin said about Jimmie, there is no way. I have no idea what I could have done to make my car that fast. I could have worked on it for a week and still not gotten it that fast. He just had the best car today.
Q: Jim Pedley, Kansas City Star: Clint, were you in favor of the call when he wanted to take two tires at the end? What were your thoughts when he told you he just wanted you to come in and take two?
BOWYER: Well, at that point, I was frustrated with our track position. It was kind of a go-for-broke deal. We came here and sat on the front row, and you want to win. If you get that opportunity to get a fast car, you don't want to waste it. So, I told him, 'Let's go for it.'
Q: Dave Kallman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Matt, looked like there was a chance that you might get both Denny (Hamlin) and Clint (Bowyer) on that last restart. It is hypothetical, but had you have gotten around there and been ahead of Jimmie, any chance of holding him off?
KENSETH: Let me stop you there. I'm really glad he didn't because it would have been big for me. You know, I did get a fairly good restart. I actually saw -- part of the reason, but Jimmie was really holding back. I mean he was eight car lengths off of my bumper, and you're supposed to stay within a car length, so I am laid back a little bit when I saw him laying back a little bit because I didn't want him to get a run on me and pass five cars going into Turn 1. So I did lay back a little bit because I saw him doing it and I got a little bit of a run, and I think Clint was the outside and I got a run and got until #11. And I got three-wide and got under two more of them, you know, down the back stretch it just bogged down a little bit.
Q: Stan Creekmore, Circle Track: Kevin, you probably had the best look at that final restart. It kind of looked to me like a pack of marbles were suddenly hit and things were going everywhere. How did it look to you?
HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, I was just hoping that they just didn't pile up because I was right behind there, and I don't even remember who was in front of me. They were going every which way, going high, low. I needed to stay high because every time I went on the inside, my car, the side of my car would bog down and two or three of them would go by me, outside of me. So I stayed high and were able to get by a couple of guys on the outside and tried to get through it as fast as I could because I knew the only chance I had was to try to keep up with those guys through traffic. So, it's -- everybody always gambles with a late caution here and tries to put two tires or no tires, and a lot of times it works to get a good finish. I know some of those guys got a good finish. Clint obviously had a good car and on two tires; his car was pretty good still. So, you know, it just depends on the circumstances, but there was a lot of jukin' and jivin' and I guess you could say at the end.
Q: Mark Story, Lexington Herald Leader: Matt, if you could have gotten through that traffic and ahead of Jimmie, could you have held him off?
KENSETH: Um, no. Unless he got through a lot less than us. I would have had to had a pretty big head start. I mean, he was a lot quicker when he wanted to be. I though that if we got through traffic first that maybe would have had a chance. I could make some ground if he got slowed down side by side with somebody, but really his car was a lot better. He could run me down pretty good. I was running all I could then, and he was running away. I know he was only going as fast as he needed to go, and Kevin was catching me. We didn't have the car to get it done, but I was still hoping that we could get up front and have a chance.
Q: Jerry Bonkowski, Yahoo! Sports: For both Kevin and Matt, what is it about Jimmie that he does so well in big races from your perspective?
KENSETH: The cars are fast. I think he does good in all races. I don't think it's just big races. I mean, if you look at his record in the last few years. In my opinion, they've really been the team to beat for four years for the championship. They've been strong almost all the time. Him and Chad (Knauss) work well together and get it figured out.
HARVICK: The cars are fast. They've been together for a long time and understand what to do to their car when they have a mishap like they did today and that's how you capitalize on making mistakes and come back and win races. So, you know, it seems like they do it more than anybody. They tear the car up or have a flat tire or have a bad pit stop or something happens and always comes back to be in contention at the end of the race. That comes from being -- having chemistry on the race team. Guys knowing what to do when things go wrong and that have been together for a long time. That's what we try to build at RCR is solid foundations, and they've had solid foundations with the #48 team, and I think that's why I think that they've been the most consistent of the Hendrick teams. So I think that's why they run better than the other three cars week in and week out because they've been together longer, and it's no different than Matt (Kenseth) and Robbie (Reiser) and myself and Todd (Berrier). I mean, when you have those guys together and when you can keep them together, the better off you're going to be.
Q: Stan Creekmore, Circle Track: Tire issues. Did NASCAR make the right call? Did it make you more comfortable? Did you have any problems?
KENSETH: We had no problems. And I don't know if anybody else did. Just a couple of cords showing at the end of the first run. I think they definitely did the right thing. We ran 35 laps or so or 32 laps and didn't have any cords showing at the end of the race. I think just with the track being green and with the way the track is surfaced, it just was kind of tough on the tires until the track got wore in.
Q: Jeff, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: Matt, this is for you. Looking back on the restart and the eight car lengths. Is that something you want to see reinforced or do you think needs to be reinforced?
KENSETH: Well, it would be nice. I mean, it's-- the restarts are really weird here. I don't know if it's because the restarts are so far down the straightaway or what it is, but there seems like there is always a little bit of an accordion effect, and obviously the more you can lay back and anticipate the restart, the better restart you can get. They mention it every weekend in the drivers' meeting, and they never really do anything. I think it would be nice if everyone was a little closer. It would keep one guy from getting a big advantage, I think. That's just my opinion. I didn't have any tire issues. They were good.
MODERATOR: Guys, thanks for a great afternoon and thanks for your patience.