The following is transcript of the press box Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush conducted following their win in Saturday night's NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Part 2 of 2 HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO BE BEHIND RYAN AND NOT BE ABLE TO GET AROUND HIM...
The following is transcript of the press box Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush conducted following their win in Saturday night's NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
Part 2 of 2
HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO BE BEHIND RYAN AND NOT BE ABLE TO GET AROUND HIM WHEN YOU HAVE SUCH GOOD EQUIPMENT?
"It's not frustrating now that we won (laughing). When you catch somebody you just have to be able to understand some of what the air does because in the short track days, you got alongside somebody and would drive it in harder and you'd slide into him a little bit and rub a little bit and you'd pass him. But you're going so fast and aerodynamics mean so much that when you have somebody outside of you, you have to be careful because if they get you in a compromising position, you could lose control of your car and wipe us both out. I didn't want to slide into him. If it would have been the last lap and we were side-by-side, it might have been a little more exciting, but the two times I did get there, I couldn't make the pass without running into him and I didn't want to put either one of us in that position yet. It's kind of frustrating, but I thought we were still gonna have a shot at it because I could hang with him and he couldn't get away and his tires were getting older and we definitely had better rubber than he had."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DRIVER THAT THINKS THROUGH THINGS LIKE THAT?
"It's very important. I'll make some observations about Matt, not to pump his head up any bigger than it should be or than it maybe already is, but the Wood Brothers have always been my heroes. The drivers in their heyday have been my heroes as well and when I look back and remember what I have been told about David Pearson and what I saw about David Pearson actually on the last couple of years I was around him when he was driving for the Wood Brothers, Matt reminds me more of David Pearson than anybody that I've worked with. He's calculating. He doesn't test worth a damn. You have no idea how fast your car is until it's time for the checkered flag to really drop, but when the green flag drops you start to see what you have to work with. A good indication of the kind of race you're gonna have is if Matt gets himself halfway through happy hour and he tells Robbie and the guys, 'You know, I'm out of ideas. If you guys have something you want to try, let's try it. I'm pretty happy.' That's gonna be a real bad day for the competitors as seen by me. On the other hand, and he's done this a couple times, he says halfway through that, 'I want to park the car. We're done. I've got no interest in trying anything else,' they can cancel Christmas because it's pretty much over. So he steps up to the plate and does his job and does it in such a way to protect and preserve the car and to have as much life in the car and the tires and everything else as can be conserved when it's time to go. When things go bad with Robbie and Matt, you don't hear a lot of whining. There's not a lot of wincing and complaining and poor me's, it's how they can recover and make the best save for a situation that was not what they planned for and that bodes well for the championship they won last year and it makes me very confident of the prospects of being successful in the years to come."
YOU LOST THREE CARS TONIGHT. WILL YOU BREAK EVEN ON THIS DEAL?
"You know, I was asking myself. I said, 'I wonder what second place pays. I'm sure my part of second place is not gonna pay for all the carnage we had, not to mention the hurt feelings (laughing)."
CAN YOU WIN NEXT WEEKEND AS WELL?
"I don't know. Everything has got to go right to win a 600-mile race, but I feel real confident. Robbie was so excited about this car. I guess I said this down there, but in his sleep this week his wife told me he was talking about numbers in the wind tunnel and was mumbling, 'If Matt can't win with this, there's nothing he can win with.' So he was mumbling in his sleep. Tracy came in and she was asking me what all these numbers meant and I was like, 'I don't know why. What did he say after and then I said, Oh, those are the downforce numbers in the car at the wind tunnel.' He was real proud of this car. It's the oldest chassis we have that we still run besides speedway cars. It's a car we built, I think, in our second year and he put a new body on it and just got it done and did some stuff here for Charlotte to try it and he did everything right on it. So I feel real confident going into next week, but a 600-mile race is a long race. It's my favorite event of the year by far. I love that race. That's right on the top of my list every year. The one I'd want to win if I could win one race a year it would be the 600, so I have a lot of confidence coming in with how our stuff ran tonight, but we'll have to bring it back and try to do it again for 600 miles."
WHAT MAKES THIS YOUR FAVORITE?
"It's just difficult and I enjoy long races. I like how you start during the day and the track is real snotty and mean and nasty and slippery, and as you go on at night your car takes such a dramatic change and you just have to stay on top of it. I mean, you make a million pit stops and you get to adjust on your car all night long and it's just a really fun event for me to try to figure out what the track is gonna be like in the beginning and what you have to give up in the beginning of the race to be good at the end of the race. It's fun to figure that out and try to wrestle the car and get frustrated with it, but then be happy with it at the end because the track changed for you. Just to try to figure that out and go through a unique race like that where the conditions change so much to me is a lot of fun."
DO YOU DRIVE HARDER IN THIS RACE OR IS IT THE HYPE AND ANTICIPATION OF THIS RACE?
"It's a little bit of everything. You race as hard at the end of the race as you would any race that you want to win. You race just as hard. It's just a little different because in the middle of the race you need every position you can get. For 600 miles it might be a little more relaxing in the beginning and you maybe wouldn't take that chance if your car felt like you might lose control. You might slow it down and keep it underneath you a little bit more and maybe make some smarter decisions, where here you just kind of go all out and see cars slide into each other and run into each other a little bit more than what you would if it was the 600. It's a tough race and everybody is racing as hard as they can. All of the money is up top. Everybody wants to win and everybody wants the trophy and everybody wants the check. It's a big race for the fans and if you drop out, there's no point standing consequences or anything like that. You just come here to lay it all out for a Saturday night shootout."
WILL YOU ALL SIT DOWN AND TALK THINGS OUT ABOUT HOW TO GET BETTER - SHARE SECRETS?
"There is certain to be a meeting on Tuesday. Tuesday is my favorite day. Typically, we have most of our races on Sunday. I'm wrought with frustration and with sometimes anger for the things that have gone wrong and I want to let that rest for at least 24 hours and give myself a chance to put it all in perspective from the point of the big picture. I want to let a little space go between now and then, but, in the meantime, I will certainly have a conversation on the telephone if I can reach Kurt. I'll have a conversation with Greg on the telephone if I can reach him. I'll talk to Geoff Smith, our president. I'll talk to Harry McMullen, our general manager. I'll make every effort to have conciliatory discussions underway that will soothe the feelings and get us back on the right track before I get down there on Tuesday. But if that doesn't happen, I will make my best effort to effect an understanding that will put us all on the same page so we can come back here at the 600 and have this behind us."
"I'd like to add one thing to that. I don't even know what happened. I didn't see the accident with Kurt and Greg, but I will say that they are two of the best teammates you could ever have. I would bet our paycheck tonight that whatever happened was an accident because Kurt and Greg, they go out of their way so much to help me and help each other and help all their teammates that I'm sure whatever happened was an accident. I'm sure they're mad about it because they didn't finish, but I'm sure, knowing Kurt, he was probably trying to bump draft Greg to make him go faster. He does that to me all the time. That's a hard place to do right there and sometimes it can backfire on you, but I guarantee you he was trying to help Greg and himself get going in that lane. There's nothing there that's gonna be too big of a conflict or anything intentional or anything like that."