Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 58 going into tomorrow night's Sharpie 500. Kenseth spoke about the deficit and his hopes for this weekend after Friday's first practice session. MATT...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 58 going into tomorrow night's Sharpie 500. Kenseth spoke about the deficit and his hopes for this weekend after Friday's first practice session.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS THERE A MARKED DIFFERENCE RACING TOMORROW NIGHT VERSUS EARLIER IN THE YEAR HERE? "I don't think it will honestly be that much different. It kind of pretty much ended up at night last time. Yeah, the track will maybe be a little slicker, but concrete doesn't really change that much with temperature. It really doesn't make much difference. We're racing at night. We pretty much raced in the night time there too after all that snow, so you would think it would be a lot different, but I don't really anticipate it being that much different."
DOESN'T THE TRACK GET SLICKER WITH THE HEAT? "It does right now, but we're not gonna race right now. If it was a day race, I think it would be a lot different, but being a night race, I don't think it will be a ton different. It will be a little different, but not a lot."
DO YOU HAVE THE SAME SETUP AS LAST TIME? "We've got the same car that we've run the last eight or nine races here, or something like that. We've run it forever, so we just brought that car back and we always start pretty much with the same thing we ran last race in the spring."
DOES THIS TRACK REQUIRE MORE PATIENCE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? "Yeah, it depends on your position and your situation. If you're stuck in the middle of the pack or the back of the pack and you have a really fast car, it requires a lot of patience. It's almost impossible to get all the way alongside of somebody, so if you get under somebody and they don't give it to you and you don't have enough room, you've got to take your time and kind of pick your times when to pass and when not to and when to wait. If you have a good enough car to be up front, you don't really have to be as patient, but, certainly, if you're in the back and you're faster than the guys in front of you, you have to be patient."
THE CARS THAT WIN HERE SEEM TO NOT HAVE ANY MARKS ON THEM. "Yeah, it depends on the race. I've seen cars torn up in the front, but, usually, if you have a good enough car, you can pass and you don't have to beat people out of the way. If you don't knock people out of the way, most of the time you don't get knocked out of the way back. That's a good way of keeping your car clean."
IT SEEMS QUALIFYING HASN'T BEEN AS IMPORTANT HERE LATELY. DO YOU AGREE? "I think qualifying is always important. I think since they put in one pit road it's not as important as it was when there were two pit roads, but it's as important as anywhere else. It's not the end of the world if you don't qualify great -- if you have a good car -- because it's 500 laps. Every place we race at is pretty much a three-hour race. If you have the fastest car and start last, unless there are no cautions and these days you know there are going to be cautions because that's just the way it is, you should have plenty of time to get to the front."
LAST FRIDAY YOU THOUGHT YOUR CAR WAS TERRIBLE FOR A TIME AND THEN YOU WON THE RACE. DO YOU GET TIRED OF US ASKING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN ON SUNDAY? "I can't really even remember last week what our car drove like on Friday to be totally honest with you (laughing). You just don't know. Sometimes you'll have a feeling after you run a car if the car is driving good and it's real fast on the speed charts, maybe you'll have a certain feeling about it, but a lot of things can happen. Look at Greg today. He ran over somebody else's oil and wrecked, so there are just so many things that can happen. I don't ever like to make any predictions at all. I'd rather just wait and see what happens and then talk about it, but it would be hard to make a prediction anyway. Even if you have the best car, who knows what could happen in 500 laps. You only have four tires that don't have much rubber on them. You're out here running and you could run over a piece of debris or you could break something. You just never know."
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED -- IF YOU COULD HAVE THE FASTEST CAR OR BE THE LUCKIEST DRIVER TOMORROW NIGHT, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU CHOOSE? "I'd take the fastest car anytime. It's way easier to stay out of trouble when you have a fast car no matter what track you're at. I learned that the last couple of years at Talladega and Daytona. I'd always complain about where we were running and get crashed, but since then we've had fast cars and we'd stay in the top five or six car draft and it's a lot easier to stay out of trouble. It's kind of true here, too. If you have a real fast car, you can hopefully be up front and have a better chance of staying out of trouble. It doesn't mean you will, but you might have a better chance."
WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY THE LAST TIME HERE WITH THE GORDON SITUATION? "Really nothing. Obviously, if I would have known he'd pull on the frontstretch because he was mad, I probably wouldn't have run over to him right away. But if I had to re-do the race, I don't think I could really do anything different. I just barely touched him. I didn't even mean to hit him. I got a run under him the last lap and he kind of came down on me. We were racing for that position on the last lap. I just barely touched him and it was just the wrong place at the wrong time and he lost it. It's not like I went in there and lifted his tires off the ground and wrecked him, so I don't think I could have done much different. We were racing hard for the last two laps. He moved me up out of the way and I got back to him because he got slowed up for lap traffic and I was trying to pass him on the last lap. It wasn't like I punted him out of the way, we were just too close."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF YOUR CAR OF TOMORROW TEST? "My personal test was terrible. We ran really bad. I was probably a half-second slower than other cars, so our test was bad. We didn't run good. Our car was real unstable. We didn't really know how to adjust it or what to do to it, so it was bad for us in one way and in another way it was good because it might have opened our eyes a little bit. As soon as the rules get 100 percent firmed up, we know we've got a lot of work to do before we come back. I guess this is the first race for it next year, so I realize we've got a lot of work. It's a totally different animal than what we're driving now, so it's gonna be a lot of work and a lot of money spent -- engineering, wind tunnel and tests at the track and bump stops -- all that stuff -- there's gonna be a lot of money spent, a lot of engineering and a lot of work to figure it out."
THERE'S SUPPOSED TO BE MORE ADJUSTABILITY. "I don't think there's gonna be more adjustability when we get to the track. I think there's gonna be less unless there's something I don't know. Maybe aero-wise there will be stuff they'll let you do with wings and stuff that I don't understand that much about. As far as the cars, there's gonna be less adjustability because the valance or splitter is four inches off the ground or whatever it is and it's got to be four inches off the ground. If you get it a little higher, the car doesn't handle right. If you get it where one side is higher than another, it won't handle right. You've got to figure out how to keep that flat on the ground all the way around the track, so what are you going to adjust? You can't change springs to get more travel. It's sitting there solid. If you put rear springs in there, it's gonna hit harder. If you take rear spring out, it's gonna be higher in the air, so I don't know. Once you get the platform all figure out with the bump stops and stuff, I don't know what you're gonna adjust. I think there's gonna be very little adjusting."
THEY SAY YOU'LL BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE SIDES OF THE SPLITTER OR BOLT ON A NEW SPLITTER? "That might be the case, but I really think everybody is just gonna run the max. You're gonna run the biggest splitter in the front and the biggest wing in the back and the most sideforce and you're just gonna put the most downforce you can in it and run it, I think, but I don't know."
-credit: ford racing