This Week in Ford Racing October 19, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Three of Ford's four drivers competing in the Chase for the Nextel Cup - Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler tested at Martinsville over the last two weeks in ...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 19, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Three of Ford's four drivers competing in the Chase for the Nextel Cup - Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler tested at Martinsville over the last two weeks in preparation for Sunday's Subway 500. Busch, the point leader by 24 over Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kenseth, seventh in the standings, gave their thoughts on the new surface at the half-mile short track.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGES AT MARTINSVILLE? "Martinsville's done a fantastic job in all the improvements that they've done over the years with this garage area and adding more grandstands and suites over in (turns) one and two. With this surface it's a whole new look and a whole new feel at Martinsville. I think the track record is like a 19.8 in qualifying and we were within three-tenths of that right off the bat. The track surface is definitely better. It still has its little quirks to it as far as Martinsville is concerned. It's always been a fun track for me, but I've just never had the grip to do well. We did win one race here in 2002, the fall race, and that was right after they did the concrete cutting to help with creating two grooves. That is gonna be an interesting race track and that's why we went there and tested because it's part of the final 10."
WHAT ARE THE QUIRKS OF THIS TRACK? "They didn't bring the concrete out on corner entry. They brought it out on exit, which will probably enable cars to cut underneath somebody and try to go two-wide down the straightaway - try to get a run out of the corner. And then on corner entry, you're still gonna have to finesse the car into the corner because you're going from asphalt to concrete and that might provide for some great racing."
IS THERE ONE GROOVE BETTER THAN ANOTHER? "One thing I saw right away is that the surface is abrasive and it's creating a lot of marbles just outside the groove. They even had to blow it for us during the lunch break, so when you have cars running side by side, they do generally clean the track better for the cars and that will be something to watch and something to keep track of throughout the race. If the track surface is clear, people will be up there racing side by side."
IS THIS MARTINSVILLE RACE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PAST? "It definitely is more important. It's gonna have the intensity like it always does, but yet the top 10 guys are gonna feel that pressure of when to pit and what decisions to make. Is it gonna turn out to be the right thing? You'll see a caution around lap 50 or lap 60 and half the field will pit while half the field will stay out. That separates the field as far as sequences and that ends up carrying on for usually another 300 laps until there's a long green flag run to eliminate some of those cars."
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Ford Taurus
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW SURFACE AT MARTINSVILLE? "It's just like it was before they ground it. It's a little bit smoother, but it's just like Martinsville used to be before they ground the bottom groove."
SO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING THERE LIKE THE LAST COUPLE OF TIMES OR WILL THE BOTTOM BE THE FASTEST WAY AROUND? "The fast way around is the bottom. You're gonna see a race like you saw there a couple years ago, which I thought was OK. I mean, the bottom is the way to go and it's gonna be very difficult to pass on the outside, but I still think a better handling car is gonna be able to pass. Before you could run side-by-side, but you couldn't pass."
A LOT OF CARS FINISH THIS RACE. IS IT TOUGH TO MAKE UP A LOT OF POINTS IN THE CHASE BECAUSE OF THAT? "It's a weird race because of the lucky dog rule that they have. There's gonna be 35 cars on the lead lap because there are gonna be a lot of cautions and on every caution you give somebody their lap back. On a short track like that there are a lot of cars on the lead lap and it's gonna be very difficult to plan your strategy and try to pit when there are so many cars on the lead lap."