Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bristol night race each of the last two seasons and comes into the weekend ranked third in the point standings. He held a press conference Friday afternoon...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bristol night race each of the last two seasons and comes into the weekend ranked third in the point standings. He held a press conference Friday afternoon in the Bristol infield media center.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN BRING BACK SETUP-WISE FROM YOUR LAST TWO WINS HERE THAT WILL WORK ON THIS NEW TRACK? "I think there's gonna be a certain amount of stuff. We just have to try to be patient and try to be in the front at the end. You're still gonna have some action here no matter what. You still have a lot of banking, it's still fast, it's still 43 cars in a small area, so I think you've kind of got to pace yourself and try not to get in trouble at all, but especially early. I think that will, but other than that, really, nothing. The car of tomorrow is all different. It's a brand new surface. The track drives a lot different than it drove before, so I think it's gonna be quite a bit different, but there's still gonna be some similarities."
HOW HOT IS IT OUT THERE IN THE CAR? "It makes me crabby. It was actually a lot hotter yesterday. I thought yesterday was pretty miserable sitting in that car all day, so it is hot but we're still racing at night and it'll be alright. It's 250 laps and usually you get some cautions here and you can get yourself cooled back off, so it's kind of the same for everybody. It's something you kind of learn to manage. You never know when that weekend is gonna be. It was weird because it's been so hot in North Carolina and around the southeast and last weekend we wore jackets all weekend at Michigan, and came back down here and it's about 100, so it's definitely gonna be hot."
WHAT IS ROUSH FENWAY'S MINDSET AS FAR AS TESTING THE COT? "They talk about it a lot, but, honestly, I haven't seen that big of a difference. There are people working on stuff and we're trying to get going. There have been a couple of more tests, but I haven't been in a car and tested anywhere since the last time we've all talked about it. I haven't seen a huge change in it. There has been a little bit. They have been testing a little bit. They went to Nashville last week and I think they're going to Iowa this week, but I couldn't make it. Mainly there's other stuff. The seven post is about up and running and they've been doing more simulation work and trying to figure all that out. That seems to be working as good or better than anything. When we test, we can't at our tracks with our tires, so you kind of learn some things but sometimes it kind of fools you too. We've been working on it. I think that we're getting stronger. I don't know if it'll be in time, but I think we're on our way back up."
ARE YOU CONCERNED FIVE OF THE CHASE RACES ARE WITH THE COT? "To be honest with you, I'm concerned about every race. I don't know what race we're gonna run good or bad in. Last year, going into the chase we won Michigan and Bristol and thought we had a lot of momentum. We ran real good at Chicago and was leading all the way through and then we went to Kansas, which is almost just like Chicago and we ran last all day and we beat whoever dropped out. You just never know. It's real competitive and you never know when you're gonna hit it right or be off. I feel a little better about our car of tomorrow stuff. Carl ran really well the last couple of races. Dover was a pretty decent race for us, so I think we're making progress. Today, I've been pretty happy with the car most of today. It's been a lot better than I expected and it's actually a lot better than my Busch car has been this weekend, so I feel alright about it right now."
IS THE TRACK QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT AS FAR AS REFERENCE POINTS AND THAT SORT OF THING? "It's quite a bit different. I know everybody does something different. I know a lot of people have points they look at, I never really do that. I just kind of do it by feel, so it doesn't really matter to me that much. It does drive a lot different. I think in general everybody is gonna see probably a better race. There's a lot more possibilities to run side-by-side. I caught a slower car in traffic and instead of sitting there and being behind him and keep trying to get under him, I just drove outside of him and went around him. We've never been able to do that before. I think the preferred groove in three and four in the race is probably gonna be the high side. I think you're gonna run the second or third groove. It's nice if you can come back down off the corner. If somebody gets under there, it's gonna be a close race but I think it's gonna be hard to pass on the bottom. I think the guy leading the race, if the guy in second is running him down, I think he'll move up before he'll stay on the bottom. I think if somebody sneaks outside of you, you're gonna have a hard time getting off the corner on the bottom. It's real flat down there and the way the transition in the track dips like that, there's a lot more banking on the outside to get off the corner -- and to get off on the second groove underneath there is very difficult right now."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE JOB YOUR CREW HAS DONE THIS YEAR? "Last week I felt we had a car that could win and I ran it in the wall, so that wasn't one of those weeks. We had a pretty good car last week. They've always been good at that and Robbie has been good at calling the races and making sure we position ourselves the best we can no matter how we're running all day -- to try and get ourselves positioned the best we can for the rest of the race -- so they've been good at that. You see it in all sports. I've been real lucky because all of my over-the-wall guys are really gamers. They practice really good, but when the pressure is on is when they really perform and you see a lot of people that are the opposite. A lot of people you'll go out and watch pit practice and say, 'Man, they're lightening fast,' and then they get in a pressure situation and drop a lugnut or can't get a tire indexed or don't get the car jacked up or whatever it may be. I'm fortunate that my guys are the opposite. When it's on the line is when they're always the best."
WHAT DID WINNING AT BRISTOL MEAN TO YOU AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE DENNY HAMLIN WAS FOR REAL? "It's extra special to win here. This is probably the coolest environment for a race that we go to -- being a Saturday night and having all the people around here. It's kind of a crazy party and almost a college football game-type atmosphere. It's cool to win here. A lot of things can go wrong and take you out of a race and it's a difficult track, especially before because it was very difficult to even manage by yourself. So to be able to go out there and race with all those guys and get everybody on the same page and figure out how to get your car handling better than the rest to be able to pass was always a big accomplishment if we can do that. So I've been lucky to have good cars, but really to win any of these races is big. It's hard to win and we don't do it near often enough, so whenever it happens it's always pretty cool. As far as Denny, I guess when I first saw him in a car you could tell he had a lot of talent. As soon as he got in there the 11 car started running good and being a contender every week."
-credit: ford racing