Kenseth, Edwards, Biffle - Ford Racing interview

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Ford Racing

Roush Fenway Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards clinched spots in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last weekend at Bristol while teammate Greg Biffle continues to be in the log jam of drivers firmly on the bubble heading into the penultimate race prior to the Chase field being set. All three drivers caught up with Ford Racing to talk about racing at Atlanta’s mile-and-a-half track and how they might be racing there this weekend.

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford


WHERE DOES ATLANTA RANK ON YOUR LIST OF RACE TRACKS AND WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO THERE? “I love going there. It is one of my favorite tracks to go to. It is different this year because this is the first time we are only going to run there once and we haven’t been there in a whole year. The pavement is aging and we don’t know a lot about what they are bringing for a tire yet, so you never know what you are going to get when you get there. I think the first run on the track is kind of a learning experience for everybody. You kind of see where you stack up and go from there and start adjusting. It is a great track and I think everybody loves racing there.”

YOU HAVE CLINCHED A CHASE SPOT, BUT DOES THAT AFFECT HOW YOU MIGHT RACE? “It really doesn’t change anything for me anyway. You might feel relief because you are in the Chase no matter what happens, but there are no mulligan races or any give away races. These are all big races. Whether you are racing for points or not, you want to run the best you can. I have always raced that way since the first day I got into a race car. You want to go out with an idea of trying to win and if you can’t win, you want to be as competitive as you can and get the best finish you can for that day.”

WHAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT ATLANTA? “The biggest thing there is to be reasonably fast on new tires and good at the end of a run which is hard to do. I have been on both sides of that at Atlanta. We have been real fast on restarts and for 10 laps, and not as good at the end of the run and things don’t work out for whatever reason. There have been other times we have been really fast at the end of a run, but couldn’t get going for 10 laps and end up having a short run at the end and can’t get it. It is hard to be real fast there and consistent through a whole run. That is the biggest thing you always work on.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion


WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT ATLANTA? “Historically, the last few runs there I have been running the top of the race track and I really like the bottom of the race track but the top seems like it has a little more grip up there. A few years ago, we saw Kurt Busch win literally against the wall up at the top. A car that you can drive anywhere on that race track, middle, top or bottom is what you need to be successful.”

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES GOING FROM THE DAY TO THE NIGHT WITH THAT? “The challenge is the balance and to keep our car turning but not be too loose. That is what you really fight. I fight loose into one and two and then a little tight in the center and loose off the corners. If you can get that balanced fairly well you will be okay.”

ATLANTA HAS BEEN KNOWN AS ONE OF THE FASTEST TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT, IF NOT THE FASTEST. WHAT WAS IT LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU RAN THAT TRACK? “Oh man, it was exciting the first time at Atlanta. It is one of my favorite places to race. I won a Nationwide race there and have been real competitive there. I have a lot of good memories there and it is a fun track for sure.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion

HOW IMPORTANT IS ATLANTA WITH FIVE 1.5 MILE TRACKS IN THE CHASE? “Atlanta is always really special to me and to our team. We have run well there and had a lot of really great days there. It is an indicator of how your chances are going to be at the mile-and-a-halves after that. Those are the really important ones. We will go to Atlanta and pull out all the stops and do everything we would want to do in the Chase. That was kind of our mission on Sunday at Michigan. We told the pit crew to go for it. Do whatever you wanted to do all year. If you make mistakes, no problem. I was going to go for it and we had the rug pulled out on us with that spark plug problem. Atlanta will be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to that one.”

YOU HAVE HAD SOME INTERESTING RACES THERE. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES? “I love going there. It is a great place. My first win there was huge and we always seem to run well there. It will be a good chance for us to get another win before the Chase starts which would be great for bonus points. It is just such a fun race track. It is hard to pick favorite memories there because I have had some good ones for sure.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO GETTING A WIN THERE THIS WEEKEND? “You have to have everything at Atlanta. You have to have a good engine, a good pit crew and good strategy. You also have to drive really well. It is a tough race track, you know? It challenges you and you need lots of things to be right there in order to have a good outcome.”

AS WE WIND UP TO THE CHASE, DO YOU ANTICIPATE GUYS GAMBLING IN ATLANTA THIS WEEKEND MORE SO THAN NORMAL? “Yeah, you never know. I think everyone will be trying as hard as they possibly can there because winning is all that matters right now. I think all the guys go to every track with the idea to win, but I guess you might see guys going for it or putting themselves in situations they might normally think twice about, just because they do want to win so badly -- especially guys that are right there on that bubble.”

HOW DOES GOING THERE JUST ONCE THIS YEAR AS OPPOSED TO TWICE CHANGE THINGS? “I think the biggest thing is we don’t know how the track is going to be. We haven’t raced there in a year, so I am sure the track has weathered a little and maybe picked up some characteristics from the last time we were there, so we will need to evaluate that right away. How much has the track changed and how fast does a team adjust to those changes, if there are any. I guess that is probably the biggest difference.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags biffle, ford, kenseth, sprint cup.edwards