Kenseth, Ford drivers talk about Charlotte All-Star race

Ford Racing

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion – “Something broke, but we had the car taped up and we were running as hard as we could. The water and oil were 280, 290 degrees the whole time, so we were doing all we could. Last year was so awesome winning this thing. You might have lost a driver out of this race, but you gained a fan. I’m gonna go watch the rest of this thing. It’s insane back there in traffic. I don’t know what the front of the race is like, but where I’m at it’s insane."

FIRE WAS EVERYWHERE. “Yeah, fire is not good, and the car was going backwards a little bit. I don’t know if we were leaking a little bit of oil. It was really loose. Last year was so awesome to win this thing. Our Fastenal team was geared up. We were running really well the first segment and I knew something wasn’t right there. I’m just glad nobody ran me over because it’s a really fast race car."

THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU WANTED TO BE. “No, this is not where I wanted to be, but I learned how hard you can push Doug Yates’ engines. I had red lights on the dash the whole time. We had it taped up too much trying to get too much downforce and we just broke it. We went all-out and it didn’t work. Hopefully, a Ford still wins this thing. Last year was so much fun. We’ll be back next year. This is our style of race and I was having a good time."

ANY CONCERN WITH THE ENGINES FOR NEXT WEEK? “No worries with the engine. That’s the hardest we’ve run one of these engines in a long time. I’ve never seen that water temp and that oil temp in a race car for that long and have it live, so I’m pretty proud of Doug and the guys that it made it as long as it did.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion – “My restarts seemed to always look bad, but here especially, for some reason, that bottom lane would really restart hard and the outside would always spin. I was on the inside every other time and that outside pole guy would go two or three cars back. I knew it was coming, but I honestly didn’t know what else to do. I thought I got in the gas early. Jimmie did the right thing. There was oil dry there, so he ran me up in the oil dry and I just couldn’t get any traction. I just couldn’t get going and then by the time I got in line I was fourth and with 10 laps you’re pretty much done."

WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER WINNING THE SECOND SEGMENT TO TRY AND GET BETTER? “Really I just rode around and made sure we had the best tires on it. There was one run we ran a little harder to check our temperatures and make sure the handling was where we wanted, and the handling was pretty good. This Fifth Third Ford was pretty darn fast tonight. I was real happy with the performance once we got it up there. Like I say, those 10 lappers we were a little loose because we got tires later on in that deal and had a lot of fuel. We were a little loose and then that restart I couldn’t get rolling and when you’re fourth going into turn three you’re done.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “It feels great. I came out here to really mix it up with them and I came here to win the cash. We didn’t win the cash, but we sure let them know we were here. I had good restarts all night and we had a pretty fast race car and were able to take our chances. It’s just a shame we couldn’t quite finish it off there. We would have loved to have finished third or fourth, but we’ll take a top 10. It’s my first go at it and I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to the next one."

DID THE FORMAT MAKE YOU DRIVE HARDER? “We just qualified really bad yesterday and that meant the front two rows were gone automatically because there was no way we could win a segment. We had to change our strategy around with tires and trying to get some track position for the end. We did as good as we could because we came out of the pits fifth, but we just had older tires than everybody else. It is what it is. We’ll take it and learn from it and hopefully next year we’ll have a more rounded package."

MOMENTUM FOR NEXT WEEK? “I hope so. We had a good night and we’ve had two good weeks – two top 10s. We need to get a little mojo going, so I feel good about it.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Good Sam/Camping World Ford Fusion – “It’s not like we planned. The last time in the fall in here we were so fast and we brought back a little bit different package, a different car, and it just wasn’t as forgiving as last time. The last time I could really get into the track and get on the gas. This car was on top of the track all weekend long and we really struggled with that. We learned a lot for the 600 and that’s the biggest benefit. I wish we would have gotten a better run here, but that’s alright. We’ll figure it for next time and work on it. I’m just happy we got the opportunity to run it last year. I was sitting in the hospital, so I’m glad I got to come out here and make some laps and get some more seat time, but it’s not the finish we were looking for.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 US Shredder Ford Fusion – “We knew were weren’t gonna have a car that could go up to the front and win, and it looked like if you didn’t start on the front row you didn’t have a chance anyway. As the Front Row Motorsports team, we don’t have the resources to bring our best cars out here for a non-points paying race, so we’ve got a little better car back home at the shop for the 600. I feel like we made improvements from the first 20 laps to the last 10 laps. We were definitely faster and had a much more competitive car, so it was a learning experience for us. It’s always fun to come out here and try to win these things. That’s our goal and we’re gonna keep working hard, but it was a fun race. I know the guys on the team had a good time and having US Shredder with us this weekend was fun.”

MATT KENSETH PRESS CONFERENCE – HOW DID THINGS PLAY OUT FOR YOU? “It was good we were able to win that second segment, kind of by accident. Jimmy and I were talking about pitting and decided at the last minute to stay out, so we got up front and got our car pretty good. We had a really fun and great hard race with Denny to get the win in that second segment, and after that it was kind of different because you spend 40 laps just thinking about the last one and not over-revving your engine and knowing we were gonna come on pit road, so, really, from there on out, we just tried to save our stuff and make sure we had the tires we needed on the car when I came down pit road for that stop-and-go, and made sure we were in shape for that, so we had a good car. It was pretty disappointing at the end on the last restart. I just couldn’t get going. That outside lane most of the night was really, really hard on restarts and the few times I was on the bottom that outside guy would lose three or four spots and in a 10-lap shootout when you’ve got all the fast guys up front, it’s hard when you’re third going into turn one it’s gonna be pretty hard to win it."

WHAT GOES IN TO THE STRATEGY AFTER WINNING YOUR SEGMENT AND IS THE FINAL 10-LAP SEGMENT TOO SHORT? SHOULD IT BE LONGER? “After you win a segment, we won the second segment, so the end of the third segment I ran hard for like six or seven laps just to check our temperatures and make sure the car handled like we wanted, but I guess there are a couple things. I watched what the 48 did. They won the first one and didn’t race at all for 60 laps until the last 10. I think if everybody else noticed, but they seem to know what they’re doing and are pretty smart, so we kind of watched that too and kind of hung back as well. There wasn’t really any reward for racing up through there because you knew you were gonna come on pit road second, so then once you got your last set of tires to run the fourth segment, I think the goal, which sounds silly, but was to run as slow as you can and stay on the lead lap because you knew everybody was gonna do stop-and-go’s and you knew those were gonna be your tires for the last segment, so I just kind of held onto that and knew we were gonna come on pit road second and concentrate on getting out of there. Is 10 laps too short? Yeah, it was way too short for me. I think, for some reason, during the day this place gets really wide, you see people right up on the top and all the way on the bottom, and it seems like all last year, and it seemed to be the trend again tonight, that the bottom is just a lot better and you really had to work the top hard to get by somebody – like when I was able to get by Denny it took 15 laps at least under green – consecutive laps to be able to wear him down and get a run and get going. So, for me, when you’ve got somebody as fast as him out front, there’s no way I was gonna have a shot in 10 laps. Maybe if I would have got out and almost stayed alongside of him, maybe, but 10 laps is kind of short, but yet the fastest car was out front and it’s always hard to beat that.”

MATT KENSETH CONTINUED -- WERE YOU NERVOUS KNOWING CARL AND GREG HAD ENGINE ISSUES? “I didn’t really see Carl’s deal, but I saw Greg’s explode, so whenever you have a teammate have something like that happen you certainly think about it because even though I’m sure there are different engine packages out there, I was pretty sure we had what they had. The only thing I felt a little better about is those last two segments we didn’t have to run very hard and we’d lift early and make sure I was only turning 9000 or 9200 just to kind of save it and it was running cooler back there, not being hot up in the traffic. So that made me feel a little bit better about it, but there’s really nothing you can do about it. You just run it hard and hope it hangs together."

THREE OF THE FASTEST CARS RAN AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. IS THAT GOOD FOR THIS RACE? SHOULD THE FORMAT CHANGE? “It’s kind of strange to ride around back there. Being drivers we’re always programmed to go as fast as you can and be up on that edge as far as you can without wrecking it and it’s really hard to run slow like that and try to save it and then you sit there for those 40 laps, at least me, thinking about the last restart, the last pit stop. It’s hard to get a read on your car if you’re not running that hard, so it is a little bit different. I’m probably the last one to know or give an opinion on whether they should change the format or if it was good or bad. That’s more what the fans think of it. This whole All-Star Race is definitely for the fans, so I think the best thing is to probably poll them and see what they liked and go from there."

DID THE NEW SIDE SKIRT RULE HAVE ANY EFFECT? “I couldn’t really tell much difference. It’s a pretty small change. I didn’t notice a really big difference to it. I did think, even though that last 10 there wasn’t a lot of it, I thought it was maybe a little easier for me to pass than I thought. When I caught the 11 I didn’t think I was much quicker than him and was able to maneuver around enough to get by him, but I think it was a pretty small change. I think these cars still have a ton of sideforce to them and when they get yawed out and we’ve got those big sides on there it’s a big assist to the driver to be able to catch it and not spin it out, so I think it was a little change. I don’t think it hurts anything to take some air off the cars, that’s for sure."

IF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN RUN FIVE TIMES HOW MANY TIMES WOULD THE 48 HAVE WON IT? “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Maybe just run it once and that’s it. I don’t know that I could do much better on a restart if I did it again in that outside lane to be honest with you as pathetic as it looked. He had the fastest car or one of the fastest cars and when you put the fastest car out front and you’ve got a five-time champion driving it, it’s probably gonna be hard to beat."

WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR ENGINE AFTER CARL AND GREG HAD PROBLEMS? “I saw Carl pull in early, but I thought he was just trying to get to the booth earlier. I wasn’t sure (laughing). I’m just kidding. I couldn’t resist. It was tee’d right up. Greg, I honestly didn’t know what happened to him. I saw him on the big screen pulling into the garage, but nobody informed me that he had an engine problem. Greg I obviously saw and then I asked Jimmy if we were next and he said, ‘I hope not.’ That was about all I knew about it. There’s not a lot you can do about it, but we did get to save a little bit in segments three and four and we ran it a little cooler back there by ourselves, so we were probably a little easier on it."

WAS THERE ANY THOUGHT ON THE LAST PIT STOP TO LET BRAD GET IN FRONT OF YOU SO YOU WOULD START ON THE INSIDE OF ROW TWO? “Yeah, there really was and I even talked about it a little bit. If I would have been pitted on the other end of pit road I maybe could have managed that a little bit better, but being the second one in line you look in the mirror and if you slow up a little bit and two of them pass you, it’s just pretty hard to do that. And the other thing is that it’s also pretty hard, even though you knew that outside was gonna be a struggle and I was 90 percent sure we were gonna have happen what happened no matter how I tried to manipulate it, it’s still pretty hard to give up a front row start. What if Jimmie breaks or misses a shift or something and then here I am behind him and I could have been outside of him leading by myself. That’s tough to give up that front row start, but I did think of it.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth
Teams Front Row Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing
Tags ambros, bayne, edwards, ford, kenseth, ragan, roush