Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points going into Sunday's race. Kenseth came into the infield media center after...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points going into Sunday's race. Kenseth came into the infield media center after Friday's practice to answer questions from reporters.
"I always love coming here. It's been one of our best tracks, I guess, in the series so it's one I always look forward to. Running with the spoiler this weekend, we knew it was gonna be a little bit different, so I think we're all looking forward to that. We struggled a little bit today, so hopefully we get all of our practice in tomorrow and qualifying today so we can get a little better for Sunday."
YOU'RE SECOND IN POINTS. DO YOU FEEL YOU'VE GOTTEN THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CAR AND YOU DESERVE TO BE WHERE YOU'RE AT RIGHT NOW? "Yeah, for sure. I think the team has done a great job of executing the races and getting finishes of at least where we're running. A lot of times we've finished better than probably where we ran. With the exception of Martinsville's disappointment where we worked our way to the top five and finished 18th, I think the guys have done really well. I think we've had one of the faster Fords and we've been able to figure out how to bring that home, at least where we're running or better. I think we've been close to the front, maybe not one of the top two or three cars to have a shot to win, although at Vegas we probably ran as good as anybody. If you look at all the restarts we seem to have every week, we're always in the top couple of rows and it seems like we're always hanging out toward the top five. That's what you need to do if you want to be in a position to try and win."
IS ANYTHING WITH THE SPOILER DIFFERENT FROM CHARLOTTE? "For me, we didn't have a very good Charlotte test at all, to say the least. We just didn't test good there, I don't know why. We've been struggling a little bit here today, too, so I guess the one thing that surprised me is how good my car felt when I first got on the track and how slow my times were compared to the competition. I don't know why. I don't know if it's the tire or the spoiler or what, but it feels like the track is really fast this week, like we've got a lot of speed, but, other than that, I don't know. We didn't really spend a lot of time in traffic, so I think a better time to probably look at it and comment more about what it does or didn't do is probably after the race on Sunday when you get out there in big groups of cars."
SOME WERE SURPRISED NOBODY STAYED OUT AT PHOENIX ON THE LAST CAUTION. GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU AT MARTINSVILLE, DO YOU THINK GUYS THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AND DECIDED TO PIT? "Every situation and every track is a little different. I think at Martinsville the tires didn't drop off a whole bunch and with the track being concrete and the number of laps we had on the tires, it was a little different. At Phoenix, the tires were dropping off a lot. I think we had a pretty long run with something like 50 laps on the tires, so I wasn't surprised everybody came in and got at least two. But with all those cars on the lead lap, it's just turning into a little bit of a crapshoot and you don't know what's gonna happen at the end of these things. It just seems like there's a caution with three or four to go every week and they keep lining them up, so whoever makes the right call and can hang on to their track position and get a really good restart has a shot at it. I think they were different situations. Staying out at Martinsville had nothing to do with our finish. If I would have done that a little differently, we would have probably still hung on and finished third or fourth. I think the guys who pitted and got tires, Denny got a good break with that hole on the restart and got to the bottom and his car was really, really fast, whereas Kyle was running second and restarted on four tires in the back and couldn't really get anywhere. I think every race is a little different and you've just got to do what you think is right at the time and see how it turns out."
DO THE LATE-RACE RESTARTS CHANGE HOW YOU THINK ABOUT THE WEEKEND? "We worked on restarts and all that stuff probably a little bit more than what we did before, or think about short runs at the end of the race and how your car is gonna be on two tires. It seems like every week we're going over what we can do for me to restart better because I haven't been very good on some of these green-white-checkers, especially the short tracks. I can't get going for some reason, so we're always looking at transmission ratios or setups or pit strategy, whatever we can do to get rolling quicker on a short run, but, hopefully, we'll get into a cycle where we can start finishing some races with some 30 and 40-lap runs. I think that would be great, so we could race to the end and the fastest cars can duke it out for the win. I think it would be good if we could luck out and get into that cycle for awhile."
MARK MARTIN SAID HE PREVIOUSLY WENT TO YOU ABOUT FILLING HIS SPOT AT HENDRICK FOR 2012. WHY DIDN'T YOU TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY? "I don't even remember him saying that, to be honest with you. That's probably why I didn't take him serious. I don't really know much about that. I don't even know if they'd want me over there to start with, and, second of all, I've got a job and I'm pretty happy where I'm at because Jack has always given me everything we needed to compete. He's never told me 'no' for anything we need to try to make our cars run faster. I've had a home there for a long time and I've been fortunate to be with a good team for a long time and I enjoy racing there."
IS TODD STILL ON INTERIM STATUS? "I don't know. I don't have anything to do with that, either. Robbie (Reiser) loves teasing Todd and calling him 'interim' whenever he can, and I always tell Todd that when we both talk about things going good or liking each other, I tell him we're still in the honeymoon phase. I can't imagine there are any plans to do anything different. I'm really happy with Todd. He's been having a lot of fun, so I can't see any reason at all why anybody would want to do anything different. I feel like he's been doing a tremendous job. I don't think he could be doing any better."
RAIN MAY COME THIS WEEKEND. HOW HAVE YOU STRUCTURED PRACTICE? "We probably worked on race setup maybe an extra 15 minutes longer than we would have if there was no threat of rain, but I didn't feel like we had the car where we wanted it to be. If I had it my way, I probably would have done all race setup today if there's any chance of rain just because 500 miles here, even if you start in the back - unless there are some weird circumstances with 150-lap green flag run or something like that - if you've got a pretty good car and can stay on the lead lap, 500 miles is more than enough time to work your way to the front. Qualifying is really, really important, but making sure your car is handling for 500 miles is really the most important, so I hope we get all our practice because I don't feel right now we're where we need to be."
-source: ford racing