Matt Kenseth Kansas II Friday media visit

Ford Racing press report

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is currently in seventh place in the Chase, 14 points behind co-leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. Kenseth met with media members Friday at Kansas Speedway prior to the opening practice session.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHASE THUS FAR AND COMING TO KANSAS THIS WEEKEND? “It has been good so far for us from a performance standpoint. We have been pretty fast and had top-five cars all three weeks with pretty good finishes the last two weeks. So far it has been alright.”

THE MEDIA LIKES TO CALL THE CHASE AFTER TWO RACES BUT WE SAW AFTER DOVER THAT IT IS STILL WIDE OPEN. DO YOU GUYS PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU READ OR SEE ON TV? “No, not a lot. Last week I went in and everybody was asking and saying that Jimmie was out of it. I was thinking that he had won the last however many Dover races. I thought that was interesting because you can have some pretty wild point swings. The farther you get down the road you can start looking at it and see who you think is more legitimate than others but there are a lot of cars really close right now. I think it is pretty early to be eliminating anybody.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE BE BETTER ANYWHERE SPECIFICALLY OR DO YOU HOPE TO MAINTAIN WHERE YOU ARE AT? “I think our car performance I have been super happy with the first three races. We haven’t finished those three races, really any of them except maybe New Hampshire, to our best run or our potential for that day. I think Chicago we were on the pole and led a bit and we were on the lead the last restart but had to slow down because we were running out of gas and we still ran out. I think we would have had a top-three there. If a caution would have came out five laps later so we could have all made it on fuel then I think we would have had a top-three without something weird going on. New Hampshire was a good run and finish for us. Dover, there was one run there where we had the best car by far and ran Jimmie down and for whatever reason we changed tires and got behind and finished fifth. I am really encouraged with how we’ve run. We have to improve on finishing it off a little better. Whatever our best run of the day is and best stop and best restart and performance needs to be the last run of the day. We need to get the finishes a little bit better.”

WHEN DO YOU GET TO A POINT WHERE PEOPLE START GETTING ELIMINATED AND IT BECOMES CRUCIAL THAT TEAMS THAT ARE SITTING FIFTH, SIXTH, SEVENTH, EIGHTH NEED TO STEP IT UP? “I have to be honest; I haven’t really looked at it. For me, I take one race at a time and try to get my car running as fast as it can and get the best finish I can that week. I am not really worried about what everyone else is doing. All you can do is control your own car and your own team and to a certain extent, most of the time, the outcome of that race for your efforts. I don’t worry about that yet until you are mathematically eliminated or almost mathematically eliminated I think you feel like you have a shot because you don’t know what can happen. I think Chicago is a perfect example. It is a pretty normal track like this and a pretty normal race but the way the caution fell and not having another caution, a lot of the guys that ran really good got really poor finishes because of fuel. Some guys you didn’t see all day and probably ran in the bottom half of the teens got great finishes and moved up in the point. You don’t know what can happen. You can have pretty big swings and a lot of strange things have happened before.”

IS THERE A POINT THAT YOU LOOK AT MAYBE THE TOP FOUR OR FIVE AND SAY THAT IT IS CRUNCH TIME NOW? “I think it is always time to go. I don’t think you take any of the races off or be like, ‘Well, it isn’t a big deal. It is still early.’ Every point in every race is equally important. I am sure that the farther you get down the road you can look at people, I hope I am not one of them, but you can look at cars and see how many points they are behind and you can probably pretty much put them out barring a miracle. Especially the more cars that are in front of you. It is hard to make up points on more than a few cars. I think it is still pretty darn close and I think it will stay pretty close for awhile. You never know what is going to happen.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CARL BEING THE POINTS LEADER, BEING YOUR TEAMMATE AND WHAT YOU ARE SEEING OUT OF THAT TEAM RIGHT NOW? “Carl has ran pretty well. I don’t think he has ran much better than us, just off of performance. I think we passed him three times at New Hampshire and Chicago I think we ran better and we ran out of gas and he didn’t. Dover he ran a little better most of the race. I think we have ran about the same but Carl has been able to get all the finishes. The main reason he got the finish at Chicago is that he was back farther in the field and able to save gas closer to the end. That is important. You have to be good at all aspects of it these days. That didn’t used to come into play a lot but it has recently. You have to have the performance and economy when you need it and pit strategy when you need it. They have been pretty rock solid all year and in position to win a lot of races and up front in a lot of races. I think they are one of the guys you have to think about.”

YOU GUYS USED TO GET CONCUSSIONS ALL THE TIME BUT WE HAVEN’T SEE THAT MUCH LATELY. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOT A CONCUSSION DRIVING? “What did you say? I forgot. (laughter) I am kidding. Thanks for bringing that up. I don’t know. Knock on wood but I hope nobody has that bad luck, including me now that you brought it up. I have never had one to my knowledge. Not yet.”

HOW DO YOU LIKE THE PACKERS CHANCES AT ATLANTA THIS WEEKEND? “Oh, I thought you were going to ask me if my hammy was okay. If I pulled a hammy running up here or something. (laughter) Packers, gosh, they are one of the only 4-0 team. Who would have thought the Lions would be the other one. It has always been fun being a Packers fan, especially the last few years as good as they have been playing. I hope I will get to see most of the game on Sunday night. I look forward to checking that out. Them going to Atlanta I think will be a high scoring game and indoors Rodgers seems to be able to light it up pretty good.”

CAN YOU COMMENT ON PHOENIX AND YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF HAVING AN ALTERED TRACK AS THE NEXT TO LAST RACE IN THE CHASE? “I think it is the same for everybody but the configuration is pretty nice. They did an excellent job of paving it. It is really smooth and pit road is really nice. The only thing that concerns you is that when we start out on track it was so dirty you could run a 30-flat and by the time we were done we were running 26-flats basically. If you got out of the groove at all you were pretty much going to wreck. I don’t know what they did but it is just so dusty and dirty, I almost hope they get that big Texas tire monster or something and run it around the outside before we get there and get that stuff run out of the pavement. Hopefully by the time they run the support races and we get all the practice it will widen out so you can get two grooves. The entries especially and the exit of four is really narrow. You can’t get up out of that at all. Once it burns in and everything I think it will be nice. They did a nice job with it.”

RUNNING TWO RACE HERE THIS YEAR. WILL THIS RACE BE VASTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE FIRST RACE HERE OR WILL YOU USE STUFF YOU USED HERE LAST TIME TO TRANSFER TO THIS RACE? “I don’t see any reason why it would be a lot different. I don’t think there have been a lot of changes. I don’t know that the weather is that much different and it hasn’t been long since we ran here. We have the same tire and all that stuff. I don’t expect it to be a lot different. Usually here and Chicago and some of those tracks that you race once a year at you pretty much forget the last time and show up there and kind of start over because it has been so long and so many things change. I don’t expect it to be a lot different.”

WHAT DOES YOUR RACE TEAM DO, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE DONE BY NASCAR TO ATTRACT MORE OF A COLLEGE AGED CROWD? “Well, not that I don’t worry about it but it isn’t something that me and my race team worry about. We are just focused on trying to get that car to go fast and try to win and run for this championship and that has us about maxed out. I don’t know what they do to try to attract that crowd. I see a lot of younger guys that go to the race. My son is a freshman at Clemson and he has a lot of buddies there that are race fans and they all tried to go to Atlanta, of course it rained out. I think there is a lot of interest there. The little bit that I have been around there, he has a lot of buddies there and knows a lot of people that are races fans there that enjoy watching it.”

WHAT ABOUT TWEETING. I’VE HEARD SOME IN NASCAR SUGGEST THAT SONS OF DRIVERS TWEETING ABOUT THE SPORT MIGHT BE A WAY TO GAIN ATTENTION OF YOUNGER FOLLOWERS. DOES MATT HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT? “Matt does and Ross does too. He does tweet. But like I said that is kind of a promoters job to figure that out too and NASCAR and everybody else and certainly they have meetings and suggestions of how you can reach out to the fans better or you can get more people interested or keep the people happy that you have and all of that. We always listen to that and try to do what we think is the best for the sport to get people interested in the sport, watch it and come out to the track and be part of that.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags ford, kenseth, roush