MATT KENSETH - No. 17 Smirnoff Triple Ice Black/DeWalt Taurus (Finished 2nd) IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WEREN'T JUST RACING FOR POINTS. "I've maintained all year, I mean, we're out here to try to win races and we did everything we could to try to win...
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 Smirnoff Triple Ice Black/DeWalt Taurus (Finished 2nd)
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WEREN'T JUST RACING FOR POINTS.
"I've maintained all year, I mean, we're out here to try to win races and we did everything we could to try to win the race. At the end we came up a little bit short. If it would have gone green, I think Robbie definitely had the strategy to win and I think we would have been in good shape there. But when we put tires on our car, it was really, really fast in traffic. We worked on that really hard yesterday and I thought we had a good car. It just seemed like we had to come from behind an awful lot today, but to come out of here finishing second is a great effort. I would have loved to have had a little more time to catch Kevin because I know we had a little better tires than he did, but he got away to such a big lead when we were jockeying around with the 31 car trying to get around him."
DID YOU THINK THE 31 WAS TRYING TO BLOCK YOU?
"Well, he blocked Jamie really bad, but I don't think it had anything to do with his teammate being in the lead. I think he would have done the same thing no matter who was leading to try to finish second at Indy. I think he was doing everything he could to protect his position and we were doing everything we could to try to take it. He didn't do anything dirty or overstepping his bounds or anything like that. You just knew it was gonna be tough to get around him with 10 to go as it would be with anybody."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE RESTART WHEN YOU AND JAMIE FELL BACK?
"We didn't really fall back. I think the second-to-last start, everybody had old tires and there was a whole bunch of cars on the tail-end of the lead lap because we stayed out and they pitted. So they lined up four of them on the inside and four of them on the outside and the 77 got a bad start. He went into turn one and his car wouldn't turn and got real high. We all kind of checked up to give everybody a little breathing room and the 31 came blasting through there three-wide. We thought there was gonna be a wreck, so I had to get out of it. Him and the 41 slammed together about three or four times and the 31 just kind of muscled his way in there. It was a tense moment because everybody was restarting on old tires and I was trying to take it a little bit easy through there. The 31 just bounced on it wide open to get whatever he could."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF JAMIE?
"Yesterday after all the practices, I knew last night going to bed in the motorhome that he was the guy to beat today unless something happened. Looking at everybody's time and looking over the time sheets that the computers keep for all of us, he was by far the fastest car in the final practice yesterday. He had a great car all day. I was surprised we could even run with him. At the end we had a little better tire and could get around him, but he had a great car today. Tony had a really great car today, I thought pretty equal to ours. The 42 on even ground with no pit strategies, just going out and see who could go the fastest, I thought he had the best car."
WAS THERE A REASON YOU WERE BEHIND EARLY IN THE DAY?
"Yeah, what really happened was on the first run we made, a lot of people pitted early under green. The fuel thing and all the pit strategy things have been so wacky lately that we wanted to make sure we could run to at least lap 37. If we could do that, we could make the race on three stops in case it went green the whole race, so we were trying really hard to do that. We were still out there when whatever happened on pit road happened. We ran under caution for a long time running second and felt we were gonna run out of gas, so we had to pit when the pits were closed and because we did that we had to start at the tail-end of the lead lap and that got a lot of us quite a ways behind early."
YOU GAINED POINTS ON JEFF AND DALE, JR. ARE YOU STARTING TO FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN A ZONE?
"I don't really feel in a zone, but I do feel fortunate that we've made it to the end of all these races. I feel really great coming out of here today second. Some people have been saying the last few weeks our finishes haven't been as good as maybe they have been previously because we've been finishing 12th and 13th and 9th and 7th and stuff like that. So I was happy to be a front runner today. I think Jamie had the car to beat all day long, but I felt like we had at least a third-place car all day and ran competitively.
"We called the race in a competitive manner and I think we drove it as hard as we could drive it. That's how we've been approaching it all year. We're just going out and doing the best we can. I'm real thankful for the finishes we have, but we still do have a lot of racing to do and we've got to keep it up."
IS THERE FRUSTRATION BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT WINNING?
"Yeah, I mean there's somewhat of a frustration of not winning. I feel like today we did everything we could. Even though we got ahead of Jamie at the end, I don't think we had the car to win today. There's been a few times this year where I felt like we had the car to beat and we didn't get it done and we didn't win the race. That's part of it. I really want to get back to victory lane soon, but, on the other hand, I'm very thankful for how we've been running. Only two years ago we couldn't run in the top 20 hardly to save our life in 2001. I'm real thankful for the year we had last year and the year we've been having this year. We've been sitting in competitive equipment each and every week and, if we do all the right things, we're gonna have our opportunities to win races."
WITH SO MANY CARS IT SEEMED EVERYBODY WAS ON A DIFFERENT STRATEGY. WAS IT HARD TODAY?
"I don't know. I probably just need to shut up and drive the car, really. The last few weeks have been so frustrating, actually the last month and a half, because the racing has just been so different than what it usually is. It used to be you'd come in and run until you need gas, you'd come in and get four tires and go race. Now it's just people stopping under green and you can't figure out why they're doing it - getting gas to go to the end in case there's a caution. I didn't understand the strategy at all at the end of the race. I was trying to figure it out. After Jamie pitted, we were leading and the 12 and all those guys came and got a gas-and-go to get track position but they were a lap down, so I had to figure if a caution came out they were a lap down. After Jamie pitted, then I was nervous because I knew if the caution came out he was gonna be on the lead lap, I was gonna have to pit and he was gonna be in front of me. Just trying to figure out all the scenarios and this track is big enough where you can kind of think about that, so I've been driving Robbie crazy the last month because I've been second-guessing everything he's been doing and making sure we're doing the right thing. It didn't seem like things have been working out the last few weeks, but he had it under control even if it worked out. Even if we got the caution, we still had decent track position. If we didn't get the caution, I think we were really in good shape because we were just gonna try to get gas at the end. We were actually running about the same times as what Jamie was running after he pitted and got the two tires just because we were in front of the whole field, so Robbie knew what he was doing there and he did a great job calling the race."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PIT STRATEGY THE LAST MONTH OR SO?
"There's a few reasons for it and, to me, it's a little frustrating as a driver. When you're running good and you have a good handling car, it's not frustrating for the guys who get to take chances and get out front and maybe win a race when they don't have the best car, but the way it is, a lot of times the best car won't necessarily win. There are several reasons for it. NASCAR has these cars so incredibly close. The 43 cars are just so close to the same speed and that makes it difficult to pass and it makes it better if you're out front. It's not like we've got the aero rules all screwed up and you can't pass, that's not the reason. The reason is because the competition is so tight. Another reason for that is Goodyear does such a great job on the tires that the times hardly drop off. Today, it maybe dropped off a second at the most. If you had a tire that dropped off three seconds or two seconds, everybody would get four tires every single time. If somebody didn't they would be a sitting duck. You'd drive by them like they were tied to a tree, so the rules are so close and all the cars are running real close to the same speed and the tire is such a good tire that getting four isn't as big of an advantage as it has been. Three years ago if you didn't get four tires, you were gonna get killed. Those are the reasons for it. If you're out front, it's just the place to be at the end."