MATT KENSETH -17-Express Personnel Services Ford Taurus (Finished 1st)
"We had a good day today for sure. It was a lot of fun. My Busch guys did a good job of preparing a good car and getting us where we needed to be at the end of the race. The IROC was a lot of fun. I was fortunate enough to have Kurt give me a big shove at the end. Kurt gave me a good push to get by Kevin. I could almost get up to Kevin's right rear but not quite, and Kurt got me a push to get by him. I was concerned on that last restart because all of the Cup guys lined up on the outside and I was the only one on the bottom. Travis gave me a good shot there and got me some positions, so it was fun."
"It's just night and day on the race tracks. They look similar and they look like they're laid out similar, but this place is really worn in and the top groove is the same speed as the bottom groove and you can just run all over the track. This is one of the best tracks that we go to. Honestly, Texas doesn't put on too good of a race for these kinds of cars because there is no outside groove and you can't pass even though you can draft, but this track is the opposite. You can run any groove that you want. You can just barely hold it wide open, but you can run any groove that you want. And, if you're in the top you can carry a little more momentum and draft and catch up. At Texas just for some reason we have never been able to do that. We just get in a single file and it was easy to run wide open and everybody was just wide open in a train. It's just a great race track for these kinds of cars. This place and Michigan and some of them places like Rockingham and those kinds of tracks that are real wide and the track is wore out and the groove is all over the place, so those put on the best races for any type of stock cars, especially these."
"We'd race just as hard if it was for 200 bucks to race. We raced as hard at the short tracks on Friday nights, so it's just a bonus. I feel a lot better tonight going to bed knowing that we're getting a $1 million check for the win instead of the $50,000 check for second, but yet we race the same all of the time. That obviously puts a little more emphasis on it and it feels a little extra special because it pays so much, but the whole sport continues to amaze me. To win the All-Star race was really special because it was the All-Star race and everybody has watched that for years and years, and how exciting that is with everybody going for broke. So it was cool to win that and the $1 million was cool, too, but it was cool to win the race and to win the IROC championship and be part of the group of guys who have been part of this series is cool and to win the championship is extra-special."
"It means a lot. It's hard for things to sink in the moment it happens, but it definitely means a lot because we're in equally prepared cars and it just means a lot. There is a lot of drafting that goes on and you need help to be able to do it and you need the people to work with, but it's fun when you can go out there and make the moves and you're all in the same cars and nobody has a spotter or anything, and they're all just out there racing for fun. It's really special to win it because you know you're racing against all of the best drivers from all of the series, but it's sort like in a way going to the go-kart track with all of your buddies and they give you all the same go-karts and you go out there and slam it out and try to win. That's kind of what it's a like. It's so much fun because they're so stable and you can bump draft so hard you can knock a guy's bumper right off their car if you want to. It's fun to be able to do that stuff because we can't do that stuff most weeks because our cars won't allow it."
"We were second, so what they so what they do is Kevin is in a row by himself so he can chose either side but nobody can go beside him. And then you choose, you can go to the outside or the inside. So, Kurt was behind me and I was hoping he would line up behind me, but I knew he would go to the outside to take the shot to win. I went to the inside and Kurt went to the outside and Jimmie was the next one to choose and he piled on the outside, and there was one other guy out there. Travis came behind me and a couple of other guys, but the first three guys that had a choice lined up on the outside, so that made me nervous because I knew that they would get a good start and bump draft and get a good run on the high side. I tried to work the high side early in the race and then later on it seemed like the bottom worked good for me, so I felt good about being in the bottom, but I wish I had more cars to push me."
"I think it made the race more completive on that restart. You saw a lot more bump drafting and two and three wide and some good moves going on, like I got that run on Kevin and he blocked me all the way down the backstretch and I don't think I could have got a run like that with a restart on old tires. This place is starting to get a lot like Rockingham and Darlington, which is good, it really wears the tires out a lot and a good-handling car comes to the front in a Busch race or a Cup race. Here the tires were all wore out and we were all pushing and all of our tires were wore out, so if we got new tires on we could hold it to the mat again and do a lot of drafting and bump drafting and stuff like that."
"I felt really good about it until I looked in my mirror and saw him outside The Dude coming to the white, and I was nervous. I was so far away; it's a lot like Daytona with the draft. I was too far out front and I thought they were going to get a run and freight train me there. I was nervous about that, and The Dude made an awesome run up through there and gave me a good shot down the backstretch, which gave me a little extra momentum to hold him off. I knew the points were going to be real close and when I saw him charging there at the end I was a little nervous."
TALK ABOUT THE BUSCH RACE.
"It's really cool to win it. We've been really close here at Atlanta a lot of times. It's one of my favorite tracks; we've never been able to win a Busch Series race here. We've been really close a lot of times. It's cool for my guys; they're real pumped up working on their cars. We had a really good restart at the end when we needed it. I felt like I threw the race away at Charlotte at the end of the Busch race because I spun the tires, and me and Jimmie got side by side and Mike got by us. I was real careful not to spin the tires and get a good restart. That was cool. Kyle was probably the sentimental favorite, for sure, but we all lost friends on that airplane. Randy Dorton was a real good friend of ours and Rick Hendrick is a good friend along with his family. We're all hurting for him and we've all been thinking about him every minute since it happened. I didn't think in that sense it really mattered who won. We all feel it."
"For being such a big track it's a handling track once you get 10 laps on your tires a lot, and I felt real good. After Happy Hour last night my car was as good as you can get it. It seems like lately we find a way to mess that up and not win with it, but we had a really great car and I felt good about our chances to win. It handled good on the bottom and it stayed real good for long runs. We're definitely at a disadvantage, which NASCAR is giving us a new cylinder head next year and the Yates-Roush thing is combining for next year and we'll definitely be caught on power next year. Right now, we're definitely at a disadvantage and you can really see it on new tires. You can see it for the first few laps and you get ate up pretty good. I still felt good about it as long as we could get a fairly long run at the end, which we really didn't get, but we were lucky to get a good restart."
"It did because the second to last restart when I was leading, I took off and had about a six carlength jump on Kyle and ran through one and two wide open on the mat and by the time I got to turn three he just about had me passed. He made up six car lengths and I was wide open the whole time. I was real concerned that if I didn't get a really good jump that he was going to pass me off of turn two because he had more motor."
"I'd like to think so, but I don't know. These cars drive a lot different than our Busch cars, a lot different than our Cup cars. They've got them slowed down a lot so that we can run them wide open pretty easily, and they all handle good. They drive a lot different than what we did and they don't react the same. I don't think I learned anything that helped me in the IROC race, but whenever you win and things are going good, you always feel good about your chances on the next event."
"I'm not really looking forward to it. We've really struggled this weekend. I don't know why and I don't know what we're doing wrong but we our Cup program hasn't run as good as we should be running. We're not running near to our potential and we haven't been the last couple of months. Kurt's been running good and Greg has been running awesome, and the 6 has been running good and even the 99 has been running pretty good, and we haven't been able to keep pace with any of them. I felt really bad about our chances after all of the practices were over. Our very last run in Happy Hour was somewhat respectable, but I don't think that we have anything that is going to be spectacular. This is the first time that we will race this car. We tested it just a little bit here. We got a short half a day of testing here and it seemed like it acted OK when we were here before, but I just can't get it do any of the things I want it to do. It's probably the worst car that I've ever had at Atlanta because this is one of the tracks - here and Charlotte - for some reason no matter what we bring here we find a way to get it tuned in where we run pretty competitively, and this one is going to be an uphill battle."
"I wasn't worried about Kyle wrecking me. We raced really well together last year and this year. When he's faster than me I've always pulled down and let him go and gave him room, and he's done the same back to me. I wasn't too worried about any kind of shot like that, and I wasn't really thinking about the points. They've got run as hard as they can every week and finish as high as they can, but it's certainly not a case where you're not going to win because you want somebody to get points. Those guys have to run the best they can against all of the competition and the car that runs the best all year is going to win the championship."