Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, finished first at California and second last week at Las Vegas. Kenseth has 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts at Atlanta with his best finish being fourth, which he has done on two...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, finished first at California and second last week at Las Vegas. Kenseth has 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts at Atlanta with his best finish being fourth, which he has done on two occasions.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
WHY IS ATLANTA SUCH A FAVORITE AMONG DRIVERS? "It's just real fast. As race car drivers we like to go fast. It's got a lot of banking. The grip is such where you can run from the white line all the way up to against the fence and that makes it a lot of fun. You don't have to worry about being aero-tight because if you're faster than somebody, there are plenty of grooves out there. Just find another one and try to pass them."
IT SEEMS IF THAT WERE THE CASE THAT THE FASTEST CAR WOULD ALWAYS WIN AND THAT HASN'T BEEN THE CASE AT TIMES. IS THIS ONE OF THE MORE COMPLICATED TRACKS YOU GO TO? "There is a little more to it than a normal track. It's not wore out. You do have to have some tire management because you do spin the tires and do all that stuff, but most races I've seen here the fastest car at the end of the race wins. There's plenty of room to pass. If a guy is faster than the guy in front of him, he can get up around him. At a lot of these tracks you have to be a fair amount faster to get by, so here you can definitely do it if you're a little quicker."
IS THE START TO THIS SEASON A CONTINUATION OF YOUR RUN LAST YEAR? "Yeah, it's a little bit of that. Learning from our teammates last year. Robbie, Chip and everybody has done a good job over the winter of building cars and getting the bodies better and getting the chassis better -- just getting our whole program a little bit better. Doug Yates and those guys always do an awesome job on engines. We've got great horsepower, so it's just a combination of everything. We've got a really great team and they're working really hard."
DID YOU GUYS FALL BEHIND OR WAS IT A CASE OF RESISTING CHANGE? "It was maybe a little bit of everything, but this is a competitive sport. It's hard to keep running up front every week. Other teams learn and get ahead of you a little bit and it just kind of moves around. For the last year and a half -- especially the last year -- has been really good at Roush. All of the teams have run good. We fell behind some of those teams a little bit and over the winter they worked really hard to try and get our stuff better and I think it's as good as all their stuff now and maybe a little better."
CAN YOU CARRY THIS MOMENTUM THROUGH THE SUMMER? "I hope so, but we won't really know until we get to the summer. We've got a great team and they're really fired up this year. They're ready to go out and run with the best of them, so it's been a lot of fun so far and we're only three weeks into the season. These guys are fired up and they're having some fun."
IS IT WHAT ROBBIE DID DURING THE OFF-SEASON? "It's the whole thing. We do have some momentum from last year, which definitely helps, but our car has been running really good so far this year. They've done a good job building cars. I've had great pit stops. The engines are good. It takes everything to be able to run any good over here and right now they're doing a good job with everything."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED POLICY? "I'm a tough guy to ask. For the last four races in a row where I've been leading at the end we've had a green-white-checkered and I've won two and I've lost two, so I'm probably the wrong guy to ask. I think the green-white-checkered is a good idea if the cautions are warranted. I thought at California there was no need for that caution. A car had a little bit of smoke on the apron and it was gonna get back to the pits. There was no reason for it, except to put on a show. So I think if they're gonna be for the show and they're gonna throw them more often than they're not, then we should just almost say, 'OK, we're gonna throw a caution with like three to go and line them up.' But, obviously, when there's a wreck like there was last week or some of the other races I've been involved in and you have to throw the caution, I think the green-white-checkered is a good thing. Last week, even though I came out on the losing end of the deal, the 48 had the faster car at the end. He was closing in at the end and to throw a caution when he might have caught me anyway and had a race to the end, that would have been disappointing to some of the fans. So it was good that it ended under green that way, but I think it should only happen when there's a legitimate reason for a caution."