Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, leads the point standings as the Chase for the Nextel Cup begins. Kenseth spoke about his team's situation before Friday's qualifying session. MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion - "I...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, leads the point standings as the Chase for the Nextel Cup begins. Kenseth spoke about his team's situation before Friday's qualifying session.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion - "I feel like we've got some momentum but that can halt any lap of any race. I think that we've been running good all season long. I think we've run as good in the beginning of the year as what we ran four weeks ago. We were just able to capitalize on a couple of those races and win a couple of them, so I think it's important. I think you want to keep your momentum rolling all the way through, but last week was last week and you still have to do it this week."
DO YOU LIKE HAVING FIVE RACES AT 1.5 MILE TRACKS? "Yeah, I think so. If I could pick all the tracks, I'd probably do it different just for selfish reasons. You'd pick wherever you run good at and that's where you'd go every week, but I think if you look at it from an average of all the kind of tracks we run at, I think it's got a really good mix. There are some mile and a halves in there, but they certainly are all different. I think it's a good mix. You've got a little short track like Martinsville and a plate race with Talladega, a real flat mile like this and a high-banked mile like Dover, so I think it's a pretty good mix of tracks, really. It represents what we do pretty well, if you look at all the tracks for the season, the numbers would come out pretty close that what we're doing at the end here is what we've been doing all year."
ONLY THREE GUYS HAVE MADE THE CHASE ALL THREE YEARS. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'RE AWARE OF? "Yeah, I think that's pretty cool, but I don't want to get too wrapped up in making the chase because trying to win the championship is the ultimate goal, so I'm really thankful that we made it. I've got a great team and I've always been very fortunate through my career to have a great team behind me, which is all the difference. I feel good about that. It was pretty cool that we made it in last year. I didn't think it looked like we were gonna make it last year until about five or six weeks before Richmond, so that was a big accomplishment for us. We've been pretty solid this year and that feels good, but it's real important for me to try to figure out how to finish it off the last 10 as well."
HOW DO YOU BALANCE HOSPITALITY THINGS AND RACING? "It doesn't always work out, but I try to balance my schedule the best I could, and I actually have done pretty good at it so far to get some time off these last 10 weeks during the week so I'm not going to Kansas City on Tuesday, Baltimore on Wednesday and to the track on Thursday or whatever, and doing appearances all week. I actually have a fair amount of time off right now in the next 10 weeks during the week, so I try to do that because the season starts and everybody is all fired up and ready to go and you don't mind being gone every day of the week and doing appearances and all kinds of stuff. But as the year goes on it drags on a little bit and you kind of get ready for a little rest and a little break and kind of get away from it a little bit, so I tried to manage the schedule a little bit so I had some time to relax here in the last 10. I was hoping it was gonna be busier at the track and media-wise and racing-wise and all that, so with that hope I tried to leave some room during the week to wind down a little bit."
CAN YOU ASSESS THE DIRECTION MARK IS GOING AND HIS CHANCES IN THE CHASE? "I don't know. It's 10 races, which is a lot of races but it's kind of not. Obviously, Mark, over the years, has proven he's very good at accumulating points and not making mistakes and being solid in the standings all through his career. I think he's got a shot. I don't think they've performed as well as maybe a few of the other cars that are in the chase, just purely off performance, but certainly Mark is smart. They've been very solid. They've run real competitive and real solid all year, so anything can happen these last 10. He could get on a roll and pull off some wins. He's going to a lot of really good tracks for him and he could get rolling and have some wins and be right there. You just don't know for sure."
WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK FUN OR NOT FUN? "I don't know. It's kind of, to me, one of those tracks where the margin isn't very big to be from running good to running bad. You either hit it right and if you miss it by a very big margin, it's difficult to overcome. A lot of banked tracks that have multiple grooves, your car can be off and you can pick out a different groove and you can wrestle your car a little bit and you can find somewhere else to run. You can make up some of your car's deficiencies, but this is a hard track to do that at. It's real flat. If you get your car off, you can't really do a lot to make it better. It's kind of like Martinsville, but not as bad. If your car is right on, it's pretty easy to run, but if it's off, it's hard to find a spot to get it to be competitive and to work good. So I just find that the margin for error is not very big and you've got to work really hard on getting that setup as good as you can get it."
DOES WHAT HAPPEN HERE A RESULT MORE OF THE CAR OR THE DRIVERS? "No, the drivers control the cars so I don't think anybody is driving Christine. We all have steering wheels and brake pedals, so we're definitely responsible for when your car gets into somebody else or vice versa."
HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO SEE 466 POINTS ON KASEY KAHNE DISAPPEAR? "It works both ways. Last year, somebody knows how far we were behind last year, so last year we were the recipient of the points. It works both ways. You just have to kind of forget about what it was like three years ago and just go with this system and know what it is and know that some years you're going to benefit from it and some years you're gonna have to give up some points. Either way, I'm thankful to be part of it and have a shot at a championship. There are 10 drivers with 10 weeks to go that have a shot at a championship now under this system and to be one of them is great, and you've just got to realize that some years you're gonna benefit from that and gain some points, and some years you may have a really good first two-thirds of the season and have to give some of them back."
WHAT ABOUT THE PIE THROWING CONTEST? "Regis was ducking so he wouldn't get hit and Kelly says she's super-competitive so she was ducking into the pies, so when I had bad throws she would duck into them and make sure she got hit by them, so I had a good partner."
HOW MUCH DO YOU BELIEVE IN FATE THESE LAST 10 RACES? "I don't know if that's the way I would put it. I think everybody races each other the same, or they should, in the chase that they would any other time. I don't think any of it really changes. They reset the points, but I don't think the approach or anything we do has really changed. It's great what you do that first 26, but it's really about the last 10. I do believe that some of what you do the first two-thirds of the year relates to your success or lack of success in the last 10. I think it's impossible to be running like we were a few years ago - really good in the beginning of the year and really mediocre going into the chase and turn it up and all of a sudden start winning races and win the championship. I think that's hard to do that, so I think momentum is important and what you learn throughout the season certainly should apply to the last 10."
HOW MUCH DO YOU LOOK IN YOUR MIRRORS AT THIS TRACK? "You don't really look in your mirror any more or less than any other track. If you're faster than somebody, there's room to get side-by-side. It's difficult to finish a pass, but the thing I think about when I think of this track and how people talk about how hard it is pass or you've got to move somebody out of the way, I don't believe in that. I think it was last year when Ryan and Tony were battling for the lead and they passed each other and ran side-by-side and I don't think they even touched each other. I think we ran third or fourth and it was an awesome race to watch. It was great for those guys showing each other a lot of respect, but yet they raced as hard as they could possibly race and it was a great race. It's all about getting your car to work right and having somebody else that has their car about right and having a good race at the end."
-credit: ford racing