Edwards, Kenseth - Ford Racing interview

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Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing

Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

Michigan International Speedway has been good to Ford Racing through the years with 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, most of any manufacturer. Ford’s top two Chase contenders, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, have each won twice at the two-mile oval and talked about keys to this weekend’s race.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

WITH ALL THE GAMBLING GOING ON DO YOU SEE ANY OF THAT CHANGING AT MICHIGAN? “We haven’t really changed our strategy a lot. We try to show up and make the race car run as fast as it can and we’ve never yet, except for maybe road courses, detuned our stuff or made it slower for better fuel mileage or anything like that. It’s frustrating when the fastest cars don’t get to race for a win sometimes, but, on the other hand, that’s part of this kind of racing and part of what you need to think about during a race for strategy and pit calls and things like that. How we approach a weekend doesn’t change. We want to get our car to go as fast as we can get it to go and qualify the best we can and be the fastest we can in the race and hopefully that works out.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN SIDE DRAFTING OR WHAT IT FEELS LIKE? “At all big tracks when you get up alongside somebody and you pull up close to their door it slows them down and you get into their draft and it speeds you up a little bit. It’s more to drag the other person down more. I don’t think it’s something that really plays a big role until maybe you get down to the end of the race and it’s for position because usually when you side draft all it does is make the guy mad that you’re side drafting against. If he’s going by you and you go out and pull the air off of him and slow him up, plus it allows everybody to catch up from behind you, so I don’t think that’s really a big thing usually, unless there are two people maybe squabbling over a position or it comes down the end of the race and you’re trying to save that spot or get that spot right toward the end.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THE WILD CARD HAS CHANGED THE BOTTOM THREE OR FOUR PEOPLE RIGHT NOW? “It’s been a really interesting year for the wild card and who knows what’s gonna happen until we get to Richmond, but I think that’s probably been one of the more exciting changes that NASCAR has made because it gives you all something else to talk about. You have the top 10 in points and then you have the two guys and who is gonna get the last two spots. Certainly a win is important and two wins is even better, but you still have to be in that top 20, so I think it’s been interesting to watch, especially this year with all the first-time winners – a lot of different winners, a lot of people winning this year that haven’t won in a while, so I think it’s really mixed that up and it’s been fun to follow that. I think that’s gonna be neat to follow that all the way to Richmond.”

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY FIRST TIME WINNERS? “I don’t know. Two of the first-time winners came at restrictor plate races and we all know anything can happen there. There have been a lot of guys that have been close to winning for a long time, like Paul Menard who has been really competitive. He’s been very close to winning races for a long time and was able to get that all put together at Indy, so it’s just been a different year. It’s been really competitive. Track position has maybe been a little more important than year’s past with this tire and things going on there, and there have been some people taking gambles getting track position and being able to pull them out at the end.”

DO YOU THINK GAMBLING IS PART OF IT? “It could. If you’re 16th in points and you’re six laps short on fuel and you try to stretch it to go for that win and make the Chase, or run out of gas and who cares, you didn’t make it anyway. You could have things like that happen, but, other than that, from the performance part of it everybody is running as hard as they can run. It’s not like you can be running eighth and say, ‘Man, if I try a little harder I might be able to win,’ and go for it. So maybe on strategy or a pit call at the end of the race, or trying to stretch fuel mileage, so something like that I think you could see go on, but everybody is already racing as hard as they can. It’s not like you can race harder to get into that spot.”

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CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MICHIGAN? YOU HAVE 12 TOP 10’s IN 14 STARTS. “It drives like a big dirt track. It’s a big, slick, wide race track. You slide the car all the way around the corners. I really like Michigan. It’s fun, and our cars have been very good there. I feel like every time we go there we’ve got a chance to win. The last race I think we were leading when the caution came out at the end and we ended up third or fifth or something, but I felt like we could have won that one. I’m ready to go back. Our cars are better now than they were and that’ll be really cool.”

YOUR QUALIFYING RECORD ISN’T SO GREAT. WHY? “My qualifying record isn’t so great anywhere, I don’t think, but we’ve been working on that. The first few years of my career we didn’t even worry about qualifying because we felt like we were fast enough we could pass guys. Now it’s more important so we’ve put a bigger emphasis on it and we’ve done better, but Michigan is fun. I didn’t even realize that’s the next race we’re going to until you just mentioned it, but that’s gonna be good. That’ll be a good chance for us to win a race. I feel like we’ve got as good a chance of winning there as anywhere and maybe get involved in that Sprint Summer Showdown. That would be really cool to win $3 million bucks.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags edwards, ford, kenseth, michigan, nascar