Pole sitter Kenseth happy with his car after Daytona qualifying

Ford drivers take four top-10 starting positions for Saturday night race.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion – “Our lap was obviously a good one. It was faster than the rest. I had very little to do with it, so qualifying at the speedway races is all about the car and the engine and those guys did a spectacular job at Roush all year long really in preparing our speedway cars. They’ve been really fast and Doug Yates and those guys have done a super job on the engines with the new fuel injection and the plate engines have run really good and had us competitive at both speedway races so far this year."

DID IT MATTER WHEN YOU WENT OUT TODAY? “I think the interesting thing about qualifying, at least for me today, was nobody had any idea what the pole was gonna be or how fast anybody really was, so they lined qualifying up by first practice speeds and that was drafting for everybody. The 9 and 43 did a two-car tandem and caught the pack to make sure they went out last, and that doesn’t really have much to do with what you can run on one lap, so you didn’t really know what anybody was gonna run. That’s the same lap we ran doing a mock-up qualifying run yesterday, so I was glad we were able to repeat that, but really didn’t know what anybody else was gonna run. It was kind of fun to watch because you really had no idea.”

ANY FEEL FOR WHAT SUCCESS HERE MEANS TO DOUG YATES? “I can tell when we come to Daytona that Doug Yates has got a little extra excitement about him for sure. He does a great job. He works as hard as he can for every race we run all year, but certainly I think Daytona has a little extra importance to him – here and Talladega – qualifying especially is probably more about motor than anything. If you’re down five or 10 horsepower, you’re not gonna sit on the pole, so they’ve done a great job with that. He definitely takes some pride in it and it’s cool to see him. He was fired up after being on the pole."

IS EVERY LITTLE BIT OF HORSEPOWER MORE IMPORTANT? “Absolutely. Those little differences make a bigger difference on the race track, so you certainly have to have all the stuff right on the car. Every aero drag horsepower matters and rolling resistance and all the coast down and all the stuff that they work on makes a big difference, so it’s kind of interesting too because it’s an impound race, so this is what everybody has to race. You can’t really do a lot of extra stuff here to qualify."

DO YOU HAVE TO MANAGE YOUR TEMPS IN THE BIG PACKS AS WELL? “It all depends. There’s not a clear-cut yes or no answer. It really depends if the cars are two-wide, three-wide, if you’re back four rows or six rows. The farther you get back and the more side-by-side racing there is in front of you, and the wider the pack is, the less clean air you have and the hotter your car is gonna run. So I think it’s something that win these rules you always have to manage. Now if you’re single-file and sixth in line, then you probably don’t have to work real hard on watching it and managing it, but the few times we got toward the back, especially at Talladega, well here we lost all our water where the part kind of malfunctioned early in the 500 – it’s something you really have to watch and manage or you can get yourself in trouble. I think pretty much no matter where you are, unless you’re leading, then you don’t even have to look, but the rest you have to pay attention. You can do some pushing when it’s time, but you’ve got to have your engine good and cooled down before you do it.”

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THIS CAR? AND DOES THE POLE MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU HERE? “Yeah, I don’t know the whole history of the car, except for we raced it at Talladega, so the car was really fast at Talladega. We ended up getting a little bit of damage and then we were leading on that last green-white-checkered restart and I didn’t do a good enough job of keeping Greg locked to my rear bumper, so the car has a lot of speed. I didn’t think that we would qualify on the pole. I thought we’d probably be between ninth and 11th – something like that. That’s where I figured we would be, so it had a little more speed than I thought. Jimmy and the guys worked really hard on fixing it up. The pole is different. I’ve never won a speedway pole. Certainly you know you didn’t have a lot to do with the outcome compared to all the other race tracks, but it’s great to be on the pole. It puts us in the shootout for next year, which, to me, until they changed the format four or five years ago, that was always a big deal. It got to be October and I was always nervous I wasn’t gonna be in it because I haven’t won very many poles throughout my career, so it’s nice to have that pole and know you’re in the shootout for next year. Starting that thing from the front, I think that first pit stall is always a little bit of an advantage. Hopefully, you can get out front and manage your temperatures a little bit and hopefully get a bonus point or two for leading some laps.”

IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE IN THE SHOOTOUT BECAUSE YOU’LL BE WITH A NEW TEAM? “You like to be in all the special races no matter what you’re doing, so you always want to be in the shootout and the All-Star Race. There have been a couple years where I think I missed the shootout and the first year we weren’t in the All-Star Race as well, so whenever you’re not in one of those races you kind of feel like you didn’t do your job as good as you should. You feel like you should be in the special races."

YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO BE THE FIRST GUY IN 30 YEARS TO WIN BOTH CUP RACES HERE IN THE SAME YEAR. ANY THOUGHTS ON THAT? “Yeah, that would be pretty cool. I never thought, especially early in my career with speedway racing I didn’t feel I was particularly good at it. I never thought I’d be able to win a race here, so it was pretty neat the Speedweeks we had and certainly in ’09 we won the first one and then to come down here and have a real fast car again, come off a real great race at Talladega, and then come down here and sit on the pole, so certainly I think for our team and everything our confidence is high, but this race is still kind of a crapshoot. You’re never sure exactly what’s gonna happen. A lot of things can change, but I think we have fast enough car to put us in the mix if I can figure out how to do the right things and we have everything else go right."

YOU SEEM TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE RESTRICTOR PLATE CYCLE. “Yeah, right now I guess David won the July race here and we finished second and pushed him to the win there, which was pretty neat. David and I worked really well last year at the plate races in that tandem stuff, and then this year I think since the rule changes, at least for me, it’s helped me a little bit. It’s a little bit easier to make decisions and kind of race your own race and not have that tandem thing going on, so I like that a lot better, but certainly it’s mostly about having fast cars and I really think that switching to fuel injection is a little bit different and I think Doug and those guys really got a hold of the plate stuff pretty quick and got that stuff to run real good, and the guys have been dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s on the cars as well and making them really nice, so I don’t feel like the driver has a ton to do with it at least qualifying. In the race certainly you can do the right or wrong things pretty easy, but qualifying doesn’t have a lot to do with us. It’s just having a fast race car."

AS A DRIVER HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF LOOKING FORWARD TO THESE RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS? “I have. After Daytona I can honestly say going to Talladega it was probably the second time – the first time I went there I looked forward to it – but after that I don’t want to say you dreaded it, but you’d always think about being in the big wreck or our speedway stuff didn’t run particularly great early in our career, so it probably wasn’t one you had circled on your calendar compared to going somewhere like Charlotte. Certainly I look forward to going to Talladega the way our cars ran and then after we left Talladega I was really looking forward to coming here because I felt like I kind of botched that up slightly at the end and we had a really, really fast car again. So whenever your cars run like this at a race track, you always look forward to going back to those styles of race tracks.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – “I’m pretty happy with the car. The car drove really good in practice and actually the first practice it was a little bit tight, so we made some adjustments and put a little downforce in the front of the car, which hurts overall speed and we knew it would and we’d pay for it today in qualifying, but we’re pretty happy with the car. It’s fifth on the pole right now and that’s pretty decent and I think we’ll have a great car for tomorrow night."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACE WILL UNFOLD? “That’s why we made the adjustments we did to the car because we felt handling would be a premium tomorrow night and our car definitely handled well in that last session, so we’re starting up front here and keeping out of trouble is the main thing. We’ll be up and back in the field, but I feel good about the 3M Ford Fusion.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “It’s hard to know where the speed comes from. It gets lost around this kind of place, but we’re still proud of our effort. I’ve been a lot worse at this place and I’ve just got to thank my team and Todd Parrott and the whole Stanley crew for giving me a good car here. We’ve got a great race car and looking forward to the race.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion – “Obviously, we saw Matt up there and we thought we could challenge him for the pole, but we came up short a little bit. That’s OK because we did some things to our car that we felt like are gonna help us in the race, so even if we give up a little bit of speed in qualifying I think it’ll help us in the race. All in all it was not a bad day. We’ll take it and race them tomorrow night.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion – “It’s pretty good. We got a little bit warm, so we pushed the envelope a little bit, which is what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got a fast race car. That’s nice because I think we’ll have close to a top 10 starting spot. I’ve come here so many times and qualified 30th that I’m really grateful for a fast race car.”

CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “This Geico Ford has been really good at all the superspeedways this year. We didn’t qualify as well as wanted to at Talladega, but the guys rebounded well. Some guys at Roush re-did the body on this car, so I’m excited about our chances. We’ve got a lot of speed and that’s what it takes here. We just have to stay out of the mess and if we do that, we’ll have a good opportunity to have a good finish.”

JOSH WISE – No. 26 MDS Transport Ford Fusion – “It was good. The guys did a good job. We had something going on with the transmission, so we had to change it out this morning, but we ran pretty well in race trim and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – “You always want to be on the pole, so I’m not completely satisfied, but these guys work hard. We have a good race car here and they reminded me that the big trophy is tomorrow night, so we’re in the show and that’s a good thing. Qualifying doesn’t really matter much here. You can borrow the line from Ricky Bobby on this, ‘if you’re not first, you’re last,’ because you want to get a pole and if you don’t it doesn’t really matter at a superspeedway because you’re gonna be able to work your way around the field. You could be 15th on the last lap for all that’s worth and still win the race, so I’m happy with the car they brought for me and I think it’s gonna race well. That’s what’s important.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 MHP 8-Hour Alert Ford Fusion – “We came down here to try to win the race. We don’t put a lot of effort into qualifying. We didn’t even make a qualifying run yesterday, so our 8-Hour Alert Ford seems to have a little bit of speed in it. It drives good, so we’ll have a real shot at the win tomorrow. We’re looking forward to getting back out there. It was a disappointing February for us. This is a race we always look forward to coming back to because it marks the second half of the season and allows us to evaluate what we need to do to have a good end to the year and it can start with a good run tomorrow night."

HOW DID IT FEEL COMING BACK HERE AFTER WINNING THIS RACE A YEAR AGO? “It’s a big deal to be a Sprint Cup winner, but at Daytona it makes it a little extra special. It was fun to come back here and know we at least know the way to victory lane if we can make it two in a row. It’s fun to be here in Daytona and fun to have a good race car. I think our chances are good.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – “I think we’re looking good. I think our car drafted really well. That was our first qualifying run we’ve made all weekend, so that’s kind of what we have, but out car drafted well and sucks up well and had a lot of speed, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow night. I think we’ve got a car good enough to do it.”

Source: Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Qualifying reports
Tags almirol, ambrose, bayne, biffle, edwards, ford, kenseth, mears, roush, wise