Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is in the 12th and final transfer position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup going into tomorrow night's race. Kenseth, who is 20 points ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers, spoke about...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is in the 12th and final transfer position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup going into tomorrow night's race. Kenseth, who is 20 points ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers, spoke about his situation before practice on Friday at Richmond International Raceway.
WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY GOING INTO THE RACE? "Our strategy really hasn't changed to this point. I guess you could have circumstances during the race where maybe your strategy would change a little bit depending on if something happens to a couple cars you're racing really hard to try to get in, but, really, you're gonna prepare like any other race. You're gonna go out there and drive it like any other race and call it like any other race. We show up and try to win and try to perform the best we can every week."
DO YOU GUYS DESERVE TO BE IN THE CHASE WITH THE WAY YOU'VE RUN THIS YEAR? "We've won a couple races and there are cars in front of us that are gonna get in that haven't won races, so I think that all the top 12 deserve to be in there no matter what -- if that's what the rules are. We all have the same opportunity to gain points, lose points from Daytona all the way until after the race is over here Saturday night, so I think whoever the top 12 end up being, those are the guys that should be in there because they're the ones that have enough points to be in the top 12 after the race."
WILL YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE THE OTHER GUYS ARE YOU'RE RACING IN THE RACE? "No, not really. If you get down to the end and something is going on -- like last year we were trying to race to get in there and we got wrecked real early -- so we were kind of wondering what was going on and I wasn't getting a lot of information. So, really, I think you've just got to worry about racing your own car -- race as hard as you can all night long and at the end of the night where you finish, if that's good enough, then you're gonna be in."
WHAT DID YOU DO TO TAKE YOUR MIND OFF THIS? "Nothing really, to be honest with you. I think about performance. I think about making the chase. I think about what we can do to get the team running better and what I can do better -- all that stuff from before we get to the race track at Daytona all the way until we're done racing at Homestead. Really, when you go to Daytona you've got your mind on the chase and pursue getting in pursuing a championship."
DO YOU DWELL ON IT? "No, I honestly feel the same today as I felt four weeks ago -- the day before the race. We're always trying to do better and finish as high as we can, make the chase, it's something we always try to do. This is the last week before the cut off and I realize we're not in by very far and we could easily not make it with the way Kyle runs here, but what are you gonna do? All you can do is your best. You put your best foot forward. You race as hard as you can race. You do everything you can to prepare and have the best pit stops you can and hope at the end of the day it's good enough."
CAN YOU SEE A SCENARIO LIKE NHRA LAST WEEK WHERE ONE DRIVER APPEARED TO LET HIS TEAMMATE WIN SO HE COULD QUALIFY FOR THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP? "I don't know. All of that stuff is possible and it happens all year from Daytona to here. I don't want to misspeak, but somewhere not too long ago I know there was one car that pulled over and let his teammate lead a lap -- he had to slow way down to let him lead a lap, passed him back, and took off so that's the same thing. There's just more emphasis on it and they're gonna talk about it because it's Richmond and it's the last race. I don't know how many points the leaders have, but it's in the two thousands, so a lot of those two thousand points there are five points here and 10 points there given to help teammates and friends and stuff like that all year long and I don't think that's really any different this week."
DOES IT HAPPEN WHERE SOMEONE COMES OVER THE RADIO AND SAYS BACK UP A SPOT OR ROLL OUT OF IT SO SOMEONE COULD PASS YOU? "That has not ever happened to me. I've never had anybody do that to me and I've never done that to anybody at this point, so I don't really foresee that happening. Everybody is trying to get the best run they can. Certainly, if you have a teammate or a friend or somebody you respect or they respect you on the track, and maybe you have a chance to lead a lap and get points -- just like any other week all year -- that stuff probably happens, but I certainly don't think you're gonna see teammates or anybody do anything goofy to change the outcome."
WOULD YOU HAVE A PROBLEM IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU? "I don't know. I can't really talk about hypothetical situations. If something happens, I could probably give you my comment on it."
YOU'VE BEEN OUTSPOKEN ABOUT WHERE YOUR TEAM ISN'T WHERE IT'S ACCUSTOMED TO BEING. HOW IS YOUR CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THIS RACE? "It depends what you're asking. If it's our confidence level as far as winning or if we get in to win a championship, or if we're talking about our confidence level of going from having 20th-place cars to now we can run 10th, 11th, 12th. We are improving. Are we where the 48 and the 5 and the 14 and all the guys who are gonna race for the championship are? I don't think so. I don't think we're to that point, but, certainly, our stuff feels like it's been steadily improving. I feel like our fortunes have gotten a little bit better, where we've been finishing almost as good as we're running or sometimes a little bit better than we're running, which is important. So I feel like we're gaining on it. I don't think we're in championship form right now by any means, but I think we're gaining on it."
WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS THE TEAM TO BEAT IN THE CHASE? "I don't know. I'm more worried about getting in right now. If we get in after Saturday, I guess I'll figure out who the teams are gonna be to beat, but I think until somebody dethrones the 48, it's the 48. I'd pick them every race of every year until somebody knocks them down."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "I'm looking forward to the weekend. We've tried some different stuff than we have been doing. Richmond and the short tracks used to kind of be our specialty. We used to do really well at all the short tracks a few years ago, and since the car came along, I haven't done as good with this car at short track or we haven't run good -- however you want to look at it -- but we have tried a lot of different stuff. We've been doing a lot of short-track testing and, hopefully, our cars as a group will be better this time."
-credit: ford racing