Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Phoenix International Raceway infield media center to discuss this weekend's race. Kenseth is ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. HOW...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Phoenix International Raceway infield media center to discuss this weekend's race. Kenseth is ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
HOW DO YOU LIKE RACING HERE? "I like coming here to Phoenix. This is probably, at least for me anyway, is probably the most fun flat track that we have. It's real unique with a really long sweeping corner in three and four -- kind of like Milwaukee -- and then kind of a tight one and two and the dogleg in the backstretch is unusual. I think it's the only track we have like that, so it's a fun track, it's challenging. I think you can pass on it a lot better than most flat tracks, especially down in one and two it seems like there's always a lot of action and a lot of passing, so it's one that I always look forward to."
CAN IT BE FRUSTRATING TO PASS HERE? "Man, I can hardly remember last week much less last fall, but it's a track, I think, if you compare it to New Hampshire and maybe some other flat tracks like Martinsville and stuff, I think this is the best one we have for passing actually. Three and four gets really wide, it gets probably three grooves wide. I'm not saying you can run three-wide, but it gets really wide where you can move up the track and try to get some momentum off the corner and move around, whereas most flat tracks this size is more of a one-lane track. So here there are several lanes and there are several options. The tougher the competition gets and the closer the cars all get to the same, and the closer in speed all the cars get, of course, makes it tougher to pass. If somebody is almost the same speed with you, then no matter what track you're at, it makes it difficult to get around them. But I think this is one of the better tracks. I think if your car is handling good, it's really a lot of fun and you can move your way up through the field."
HOW HAS THIS SEASON GONE FOR THE WHOLE ROUSH FENWAY ORGANIZATION COMPARED TO WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE WHEN THE YEAR STARTED? "It's hard for me to speak about the other teams other than our own because we've kind of got our hands full our own stuff, really. If you look straight at the numbers, I don't know how many times we race, but to have a couple of wins in the organization, I think, is good. Certainly we could be doing better. I think that at our intermediate tracks we've ran about basically on average how I thought we should for an organization. I think at Texas there was probably at least three of us that, if things would have went right, we could have had a shot to win and we had a really off day in the pits as an organization. The short track stuff is probably a little bit of a disappointment. I don't think any of us ran very good at Martinsville or near as good at Bristol as we usually do. Carl usually runs really good there and has won a couple of races, so I think our short track stuff needs some work. We'll probably know a lot more here after Saturday night to see how our short track, flat track stuff is so it seems like we've been off more so than we were last year. I know everybody is working hard on trying to figure out how to make our stuff better. It didn't seem like we really improved a lot of our stuff since then the end of last year and you've got to keep doing that all the time or the competition is gonna get by you, so I don't know. There's room for improvement, but yet things could have been worse as well."
IS THIS A TRACK WHERE YOUR PIT CREW CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE WITH TRACK POSITION? "I never take it for granted and it can go either way. Every track we go to these days, really, probably with the exception of Talladega and probably a little bit Daytona, is very, very important.
"Track position is very, very important. My team has always historically done really well. Without our pit stops in Daytona and California, we wouldn't have been in position to win either one of those races and they really helped us win those races, but then on the other hand we've had a few off weeks on pit road, too. At Martinsville, we lost our lap on pit road and could never get it back and that hurt us, and last week we went from second to 12th or something like that with having a nut fall off the right-rear and that hurt us. So it kind of goes both ways. We know we've got to be perfect to be able to win these days -- on the track, on pit road, car prep, everything -- so the pressure is always on. The pressure is always on for nobody to make a mistake because the competition is so tough that if you make any mistakes, it's gonna be tough to overcome them and still be able to have a shot to win."
THERE HAS BEEN MENTION ABOUT THE 26 GOING AWAY AT THE END OF THE YEAR WHEN YOU HAVE TO DOWNSIZE. WHAT WILL THAT MEAN AND WHAT DOES JAMIE BRING TO THE TABLE? "I don't know and I don't know that anybody knows what's gonna happen or how they're gonna move that team. With the Yates Racing team being right across the street and sharing an engineering department. The car builds are the same. The engine department is the same. Really, those guys are two more teammates, so I imagine -- I don't know -- but I imagine whatever team has to move out of Roush under the new four-team cap that goes into effect next year, I would assume it would just go to the Yates team and things really wouldn't change that much. We still work together with both of the drivers over there, sharing all information together in the meetings and doing all that stuff, so unless they totally get rid of a team and don't have it in either one of those camps, I don't think it's gonna be a big deal whichever team goes over there."
DOES THE ROAD THROUGH VICTORY LANE HERE AT PHOENIX GO THROUGH HENDRICK? "I don't think it matters what track we go to if you're gonna win, you're probably gonna have to beat the Hendrick cars. I haven't found a track where Jimmie is not good at yet, where him and Chad aren't a threat to win every week, so I think if you think about any track and trying to go there and win and get a victory, I think you've got to think about the 48 and the 24 and Mark and Junior -- all the Hendrick cars. I think if you're gonna win, you have to beat those guys."
WITH THE ECONOMY THE WAY IT IS WOULD IT BE WORTH TAKING ANOTHER LOOK AT THE FOUR-TEAM CAP LIMIT AND PUTTING IT OFF? "Everybody is probably gonna have a different opinion on that, I honestly don't know. I don't really know what it takes to run a team. I don't know financially how they make all that stuff work, and I don't really know how NASCAR does their stuff to make it work, either. So there's people that are a lot smarter than me on the business side of it that would know way more than I do. I really don't know how they make it work."
DO YOU HAVE A THEORY AS TO WHY WE'VE SEEN SO MANY PIT ROAD ISSUES THIS YEAR? "I can't comment on everybody's problems that they've had because I don't know about the other teams, and I don't even know about some of our teams and what we've had for problems, but the biggest thing that is different is they changed the rules on the stud lengths and I think that's probably the biggest thing that is different for our tire changers because that changes the timing a little bit. You have to be on the nuts longer to get them tight and I think the shoulder has changed a little bit on it, so I know there's been a little bit of a rule change on the wheel studs, and I think that's probably been a little bit of a challenge at least for our team. I can't really speak to anybody else, but I know that's been one of the challenges that we really had to look at this winter when they made that rules change -- to practice pit stops and you have to be on them longer, so that's really been the only change. It's really competitive out on the track and it's really competitive on pit road and whenever you're trying that hard to turn in the perfect stop, once in a while you're gonna have mistakes or have things not go quite right, so you're just trying to push it that extra little bit."
-credit: ford racing