Kenseth Takes Ford To Victory Lane For First Time In 2002 Matt Kenseth registered the second win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career and snapped a 59-race winless streak with today's triumph in the Subway 400. Kenseth, whose first NASCAR Busch...
Kenseth Takes Ford To Victory Lane For First Time In 2002
Matt Kenseth registered the second win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career and snapped a 59-race winless streak with today's triumph in the Subway 400. Kenseth, whose first NASCAR Busch Series win came here at Rockingham in 1998, registered his only other Winston Cup triumph in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600. The win is the 524th for Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, most among manufacturers, and the 54th all-time triumph for Taurus.
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW:
"I thought when the 32 was in front of us I thought I was in the worst position I could be in. The guys on the inside were gonna have new tires and the 32 was on old tires and I didn't know which was to go. I knew whichever way I went, Rusty was gonna go the other way. We were slamming and banging out there and we just got really lucky. I don't know what happened with the 40 and the 18. I don't know if they thought the caution would come out or what, but they just slowed down and I had a run off the corner. I just held it to the floor and made it back to the line. It was just a great finish for the DEWALT team."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Finished 42nd)
"It didn't give any warning. The temperatures were all okay. We weren't turning a lot of rpm's, something just let go. It's hard to describe. Pieces and parts are gonna break sometimes, but it doesn't happen very often in our camp. We had a great race car, it's just very unfortunate."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CAR TO BEAT TODAY. "Yeah, I think we had a car to beat. It looked like we could have gotten another top 10 and might have raced them for the win. We were happy to be running up front when it happened, but we'll get back at them next week in Las Vegas."
WHAT HAPPENED? "Something happened to the engine. It's very rare that we have an engine problem, but today it got us and it's very unfortunate because we had a great race car."
DID IT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE ONE-ENGINE RULE? "No. I mean, this early in the race? No. If it would have happened later, you might look at parts like that, but not this early in the race. It's just unfortunate. As hard as we try to insure that pieces and part aren't gonna break, sometimes they do and today it did."
NOTE: Jarrett was leading the race on lap 145 when he was forced to pit with engine problems. This also snaps a streak of 12 straight top-10 finishes for Jarrett at Rockingham.
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 31st)
"We had a pretty good car until we got pushed up into the wall by Mark leaving pit road. I know it wasn't intentional. It's just a tight pit road here. I think after that we just a lot in the handling. We were pretty good until then. But it is a long season and I hope we can make up for it at Vegas."
RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Finished 5th)
"We were strong. I'm really proud of the Tide team. It just got away from us in the middle part of the race. The cautions kept coming as we were gaining momentum and we never got the track position back. If we got the track position back, I think we could have gone toe-to-toe with the 17 car. Then at the end we gambled a little bit and that's our nature. This is a fun team to race with. We gambled and we lost, but we came out of it with a top five and now we'll got to Vegas and see what we can do there."
WHAT ABOUT PIT STOPS TODAY? "Track position was critical. I mean, just one spot really made a big difference in terms of how you used up your tires to get by him. Once you got by him, then how much did you have in reserve. This was an awesome race car. The Tide Ford was awesome, but we couldn't show our muscle like we could when we had the lead early on. It really liked to be out front, but we never really got that chance again."
WHAT ABOUT THE TIRE SITUATION IN THE FINAL LAPS, DID THEY GIVE WAY? "Yeah, they did. It was a great gamble. I was 100 percent with them. It's a great team to race with and this is a great start to the season. The car would really run. The Tide Ford was a bullet out front. It really liked the air on the front of the car. In traffic we used it up a little. Had we been able to get back to the front, I believe we could have matched the 17 door-to-door."
WAS BEING OUT FRONT THE THOUGHT PROCESS AT THE END AND THE REASON FOR NOT PITTING? "I think. Yeah, there's no question and we also expected more cars to stay out because there were only 25 laps to go, but it didn't happen. We thought if more teams had stayed out we would have been in good shape and I'll be a son of a gun if they didn't. Nobody did and that really surprised us. Mike was willing to gamble and I was willing to gamble. I thought it was a good gamble. That was the best set of tires I had gotten all day and I didn't think it was a bad gamble."
DID YOU FIGURE YOU WERE A SITTING DUCK WHEN EVERYONE DUCKED DOWN PIT ROAD? "Yeah, but we didn't lose any enthusiasm or let up. We didn't give up, it was just too difficult to fight those guys off with 15-20 laps on those tires. I still think it would have worked if more cars had stayed out. I expected cars from 10th on back to stay out because they had more to gain than lose, but they didn't and that surprised me."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Finished 18th)
"We had a very good car today. Early in the race, we had a slow green-flag pit stop that put us a lap down. The car was so good that we were able to get back on the lead lap. My guys busted a great pit stop and got us to the lead and we were really good when we got up front. I came down for that stop and I don't know what happened. The motor just shut off. It would turn over, but it wouldn't fire up. We lost a lap there and then, finally, we got track position on that last restart and left the leaders hoping for a caution, but it never came. I guess this is just one of those days that wasn't meant to be."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo Taurus (Finished 6th)
"Like I've been saying for a long time, we're a group of fighters. There were times today when we were a top five car and there were times today when we were a 25th place car, but we just kept fighting and fighting. The great pit stops kept giving us a chance and I'm really proud of my guys. We raced really hard there at the end to get some spots and it was a good day for us. It wasn't a great day, but a good day."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE MULTI-CAR INCIDENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE? "Some guys got together on the back straightaway and that's all I know. I went to go low and Jeremy was just spun right there in front of me and I ran up and hit him. That really hurt us because from then on we were really tight in the middle of the corner and we were really tight behind other cars. I think the nose being messed up really hurt us there. It was real hard to pass. When I was by myself I could get the car to run well, but when I was behind other cars I just couldn't go like I needed to. We had some bad luck, but we had some good luck too. The guys had a great day in the pits and to go from 22nd to sixth is a great thing. To get one of the Roush cars in victory lane early in the year is a good sign. If they can do it, we can do it. We raced hard all day and it paid off."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Finished 21st)
WAS IT JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS? "Really the whole weekend. That was not any surprise to me. The surprise I had was how fast our pit stops were and how well the guys fought. We did what we have to do when we're not running good and that's fight for everything we can get. We did that and I'm pretty happy with all of that. I'm very, very enthused. When we get some fast race cars, we're gonna be tough but we never had that this weekend. We'll keep working at it."
HOW ABOUT MATT GETTING BACK INTO VICTORY LANE? "That's awesome. It's just fantastic."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Finished 8th)
"On that last pit stop we came out third and I thought, 'Oh man, this is gonna be great.' I didn't know if we could have won it or not because Kenseth was so strong, but I thought we could maybe get to second and at least hold on to third. But when I saw them line up on the inside of me with three or four really good cars having sticker tires, I knew we were gonna be in trouble because they were just flying around the bottom. I just couldn't get down. We got to banging around there with 20 to go and I got shuffled all the way back to seventh and then I just got way too tight there at the end and I couldn't hold off the 99. Then something happened with the 31 and some oil got dumped on the track. I hit the oil and slid clear up the race track and then (Jeff) Gordon got underneath me. If we would have gotten another restart I think I could have got past Gordon again, but, other than that, it was a good day for us."
JOE NEMECHEK --26-- Kmart School Spirit Taurus (Finished 33rd)
"The best way to describe today is frustrating. I don't like riding around out there, but that's what we were doing. This team is better than this, but we just didn't show it today."
TODD BODINE --66-- Kmart Taurus (Finished 32nd) -- "We struggled ever since we got here on Friday. We chased the car and thought we had it close yesterday, but today showed we weren't there. The changes we made during the pit stops helped, but we were still terribly loose."