Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his weekly press conference on Friday in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss a number of issues, including last weekend's incident with Carl Edwards. WHAT...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his weekly press conference on Friday in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss a number of issues, including last weekend's incident with Carl Edwards.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE CHASE? "Yeah, we're making a charge here. I'm pretty sure we're gonna win the championship (laughter). We're closing in right on it and a couple more good weeks like we had in Martinsville and we're gonna be right there. But no, seriously, I was happy to get a good finish at Martinsville. That's been our best finish in the chase and I think that's our second-best finish we ever had there, so we did gain some point. Even though we're still 12th -- although we all complain about going to New York and all the stuff that people like Herb make us do, it's still a lot of fun to go up there. We have a lot of pride in trying to be in the top 10 and getting up there on stage and representing your team and sponsors and everything. I think we're only 100 points out of seventh or something like that and, hopefully, we can keep gaining on it and climb our way back up there a little bit."
CAN YOU UPDATE US ON THE SITUATION WITH CARL? HAS JACK MET WITH YOU GUYS? WHAT'S THE SITUATION WITHIN THE ROUSH FENWAY TEAM? "I think everything on the team is great. Honestly, I know there were some comments about team spirit and that kind of stuff, but I think that right now, honestly, just besides the two of us for whatever reason, I think team morale is maybe not at an all-time high, but it's pretty darn high. Right now, all the crew chiefs are getting along better than they were a year ago. They're sharing information better. They are understanding each other and the crew chiefs are understanding their drivers better and the engineers and all that stuff, so I think from the team standpoint it's great. This thing is not about just the driver and Carl's probably one of the first ones that can attest to that. In 2005, he made it look easy and made the chase and was a championship contender. Last year, they really struggled. He might have won one race or something or he might not have, I don't know, and didn't make the chase and kind of struggled through it, so it's really about the team and I think right now all of the teams are working great together and are fired up and working hard at it. As far as just Carl and I, we haven't talked since last week. Really, I don't see at this point a big reason to or anything that's gonna get solved, so we'll carry on like always and be professionals and keep working together and try to get everybody at Roush Fenway running good."
IS IT POSSIBLE THIS FLAP COULD BE FOR THE GOOD AND COMMUNICATION MIGHT OPEN UP? "I don't know. Whenever you have a conflict, it's never always just one person's fault, so whenever you're a part of that, you always feel bad about it, but, really, some of the things that were said about our communication and not talking the last six months or whatever, none of that is really true at all. We've worked fine together. I can think of several instances where he's come to talk to me or I've talked to him about things or whatever. I think from him, for whatever reason, I think it's maybe blown a little out of proportion. I honestly didn't realize we had a big problem, and I just saw what you guys saw. There was no provoking, nothing going on. I saw exactly what you guys saw on that clip that everybody has been watching on You Tube. I watched it too and that's all I know. I don't really know what honestly provoked all that, so, hopefully, in the end, it'll be a positive. I think that he's probably got more stuff to work through than maybe I do. I don't feel like I've been really a big cause of his problems. I know everything should work out good in the long run. I haven't seen any changes in our team. I think our teams still get along good, and I think it'll all be fine."
MARK MARTIN WAS THE LEADER FOR MANY YEARS. HAS HIS PRESENCE BEEN MISSED AND IS THE ORGANIZATION LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO BE THAT LEADER BY EXAMPLE? "I don't think it's that much different with Mark gone to be honest with you. Now Mark did go around the motorhome park lot at night and he'd come and see all us drivers and we'd all talk, and he probably does a better job with that than certainly I do or Greg or whoever else would be the leader of the team, if you want to call it that. But as far as the weekly stuff, Mark living in Florida and stuff, he didn't really come around the shop that much. That's kind of something a lot of people thought he did, but he really didn't and, really, when the driver leadership guy involved in everything changed is really when Jeff Burton left the organization. He was really the guy at every single meeting and would come up with ideas and would go crazy when things weren't going right and trying to fix things, and praising people when they were going right and all of that kind of stuff. So, Jeff was really kind of that guy. I don't think I'm that guy. I don't think I'm really cut out to be that guy, but I'm not sure that you need it either. We're all racing for our own teams. We're all helping each other. We should all be able to act like professionals. I don't think you need one driver within the team to stand up in front of everybody and tell them how things are gonna be or whatever. We're all equals and all of our input should matter and we should all figure out how to work together."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE PROGRESS OF DAVID RAGAN? "Certainly David has been really interested and has had a lot of questions and he's talked to all of us. He's actually helped us with some stuff and we've tried to help him with as much stuff as we can. I think, honestly, the biggest thing David has going for him right now, in my opinion, is he's starting to put up some good numbers. He was fast enough to win Richmond at the end of the race and all of that stuff is great, but the biggest thing is you haven't heard much about him in the last few months and I think that's good. I think he's gained a lot of respect from all of his peers and other drivers on the race track, and all of the team members. He's going out and doing his job and he's not doing things that are gonna make headlines besides winning. He's not doing the bad stuff or wrecking people on the track and losing respect, so I think he's gained a lot of respect from all the people he's racing against. Certainly you can see the progression because he's running better and better every week."
WHEN DO YOU THINK THE CONFLICT WITH CARL BEGAN? COULD THERE HAVE BEEN AT SOME POINT A TIME WHEN YOU COULD HAVE TALKED ABOUT IT AND PREVENTED LAST WEEK FROM HAPPENING? "The last part of that question is something only he can answer because I don't know. I was just kind of standing there minding my own business when he came up, so I don't know what would change his mind from doing that at the end of the race. I don't know. I guess over the last year we've maybe been a little less friends maybe than we were before. There was a couple of things that have happened -- maybe in the organization some things he said or whatever that maybe turned me off, and I did talk to him about them -- that I didn't think that was necessarily right. It was more just an individual/team type of thing, but I thought we kind of got all over that. I told him what I thought about it and we've talked about that a little bit, but our personalities are just a lot different. I didn't think there really has been anything festering really that much. I don't think I did anything different to him on Sunday that if he would have done the same thing to Tony Stewart, I'm sure the outcome would have been the same or worse. So I don't think I did anything to him that was really necessarily that wrong, so I don't know. There must be something that's maybe been festering with him and he's ready to blow about, but I don't really know exactly what that would be. We haven't really had any big conflicts. Before that Kansas thing, we went out on the track and did all that, before that we never really ran into each other on the track or never really had a fight about anything or a disagreement about anything, so I don't really know."
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED -- THERE HAVE BEEN REFERENCES TO ANOTHER TYPE OF CARL THAT WE DON'T SEE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT? "I don't hang out with him that much to really know that, but I guess I was a little surprised to see what I saw there. But yet that's a side I see of him every once in a while or that maybe some people see that other people don't, so I guess that's probably all everybody meant. I mean, that's kind of opposite as he looks in interviews. I think that's probably what they meant."
IS THERE ERRATIC BEHAVIOR YOU'VE SEEN? HAVE YOU CALLED HIM BACK AND IS IT IMPORTANT YOU ALL GET ALONG ON A TEAM? "We need to all get along and be professional. I don't know, you can make your own judgment on what you guys saw. You guys saw the same thing I did. They caught the whole thing on film thanks to Bob Dilner. Everybody saw the same thing I did, so I thought it was slightly different than he was just before that. I guess that's probably why I made that comment, and it was different again when he called me and left me a message Monday. So, no, I didn't call him back. It's one of them things that I don't know how to fix that. He can tell me whatever he wants, but that's what happened. Actions speak a lot louder than words and until you see the actions are telling you different, that's probably when you'll feel better about it."
DO YOU HAVE TO GET ALONG AS TEAMMATES? "I don't want to call people out and bring names up, but there have been a lot of teammates that didn't necessarily get along that have been very, very productive, including some people that have been at our stable and been very, very productive. So I don't think that really has anything to do with it. I think the key word there is probably respect. I think you've got to respect your teammates and respect all your peers out there, and if you do the right thing, most times people are gonna do the right thing back to you, so I think that's the main thing."
WAS SUNDAY'S INCIDENT WHAT YOU WERE REFERRING TO IN TERMS OF HIS ERRATIC BEHAVIOR OR ARE THERE OTHER EXAMPLES YOU CAN MENTION? "I don't know. I don't want to make too much of that. I guess I was kind of saying that because he got out and did his interviews and went and talked to my team engineer and went and talked to Jeff Burton and went and talked to a bunch of people and he was happy, and then he came over and acted like that without being provoked and I thought that was a little strange. That's all I meant about it. It didn't really mean to go much deeper than that."
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK YOU DESERVE JUST AN APOLOGY? HOW MUCH WOULD THAT HELP? "It helps if you get an apology, but, like I said, I think the main thing is that actions speak louder than words. Anybody can call and say the words. I've heard them actually a lot of times from there. You can go run into people and then walk up next week and say, 'Hey man, I'm really sorry.' And then you can run into them again next week and say, 'Hey man, I'm really sorry.' And you can do that again. Well, pretty soon when you walk up and say you're sorry, you say, 'OK, he doesn't mean that.' I'm not saying just necessarily him, I just mean that your actions kind of speak more than your words. You know what I mean? So if you act like you're sorry and things change and your relationship gets better, then you kind of believe it. But anybody can just walk up and say, 'Hey, sorry.' It's whether they really mean it or not."
FROM AN EGO PERSPECTIVE, WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU WATCHED THAT? "First of all, I'm not the biggest guy in the world and I was glad I didn't get my butt kicked. So that was the first thing. After watching it I was glad he pulled back (laughter). But it's disappointing. It's disappointing for your sponsors -- for his sponsors it's disappointing. I imagine by the time Monday or Tuesday rolled around it was probably embarrassing to him too. I know he's tougher than me. In my opinion everybody is different. There are macho people and there aren't, but I don't think fighting is ever a way to solve a problem anyway. I try to stay out of that and not just because I'm little, but that's just not really my thing. I'd rather talk things through with somebody and try to fix your problem somewhere in private and go from there. The whole thing was disappointing. Obviously it was kind of ugly, but it gave you guys something to talk about all week, so that part was good. Everybody was sick of talking about Jimmie and Jeff driving away, leading the points thing, so this kind of spiced everything up a little."
-credit: ford racing