Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Taurus, finds himself ninth in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, but he's only 124 points off the lead with five races remaining. Kenseth spoke about his points position and his hopes for Sunday's ...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Taurus, finds himself ninth in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, but he's only 124 points off the lead with five races remaining. Kenseth spoke about his points position and his hopes for Sunday's Martinsville race.
NOTE: Jimmie Johnson was eighth and 227 points behind leader Kurt Busch at this stage of the Chase for the Nextel Cup last season.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU LEARNED FROM THE CHASE LAST YEAR THAT YOU'RE USING THIS SEASON? "It doesn't look like it. We're ninth in points (laughing). Really, I think the only thing we learned last year was that we all kind of tired ourselves out and tested too much and did a lot of stuff there that we probably learned from a little bit. We didn't really save all of our tests this year. We tried to keep running better during the year and I think that's helped because our performance had been really good up to this point. We've had cars capable of being in the top five every week and that's really good compared to where we've been all year."
SO IT'S NOT A HUGE ADVANTAGE BEING IN THE CHASE FOR THE SECOND TIME? "I don't think so. I think the only thing is probably not to over-analyze it. I think last year a lot of people, including us and the media, probably over-analyzed it and said, 'Oh, it's a 10-race thing.' It's really no different. It's just 10 races with the same point system, it's just 10 races to get it done instead of 36. So I don't really think you do anything different. You go out there and run hard and try to finish good."
DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA GOING INTO THE WEEKEND THAT YOU HAD ACCUMULATED THE MOST POINTS ON SHORT TRACKS THIS YEAR? "That's funny because I remember on my teleconference that somebody asked me, 'Why do you run so bad at short tracks?' I was like, 'I think we have the most points, or we did in 2003.' Yeah, we usually do pretty good. Martinsville is not usually a good place for us. Sometimes we get lucky and get a good finish, but besides Martinsville we seem to do good on the short tracks. This place has definitely been a struggle for me and for us, so this is the tough one for us."
BUT YOU'RE IN THAT SWEET SPOT STARTING 25TH. THAT USUALLY MEANS A GOOD RESULT. "I kind of dropped that because we've been qualifying better, so I don't know if that really matters. I hope you're right."
WHY IS MARTINSVILLE SO TOUGH FOR YOU? "If I knew I would try to fix it and make our performance better if I knew exactly why. It's just been a tough place for me. It's a very unique track. It doesn't have anything to do with being a short track or a big track, it's just a track that we struggle at. It's just so small and so slow, such tight corners, that we just have a hard time hitting exactly what we need and I have a hard time telling them exactly what we need to put in our cars. It's just always been kind of a struggle."
IS THERE ANY STRATEGY TO THINK AHEAD AND TRY TO PROTECT YOURSELF ON A TRACK LIKE THIS? "There's really nothing special you can do. I think in every race you want to run up front and lead laps and be up front the whole race if you can. Obviously, that's what you aim at every race, but it is difficult here. Track position means a lot, but yet tires wear out too. It's one of those races you have to stay around all day and be smart and not get torn up, but in the same sense you've got to be on the lead lap and you've got to run hard to keep yourself in a good position."
YOU DON'T WANT TO AGONIZE TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS RACE DO YOU? "There are certain races you look forward to and certain ones you don't, but you still have to go and put forth 100 percent effort every weekend like we always do."
YOUR CHASE HAS MIRRORED THE START OF THE SEASON WHERE YOU DUG A BIT OF A HOLE AND NOW YOU'RE TRYING TO COME BACK. THOUGHTS? "We've been doing the best we can. It's kind of good news, bad news. The bad news is we've had two bad finishes in the chase. The good news is we ran good in all five races so far. If you can run that good all the time, you'll have some good finishes. Last week we weren't smart and cost ourselves a good finish. At Dover, we had two flat tires and that was nothing we could do anything about. If we could have kept air in the tires, we'd have some good finishes right now than what we've had. We've had six flat tires so far in the chase and that's cost us some good finishes. That's been kind of tough to take, but we have been running good and I think we've all been pretty much doing our jobs. I didn't make a good decision last week when we had the flat - to get down pit road right away - but other than that we've done pretty good."
WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE? "We had a flat and we should have came down pit road right away, but I tried to make it around another lap so we didn't have to go to the tail end and that cost us. That tore our car up, so that was dumb."