Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has a pair of Bristol Motor Speedway wins to his credit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kenseth spoke about this weekend before Friday's practice session. WHAT CAN YOU DO ON THIS...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has a pair of Bristol Motor Speedway wins to his credit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kenseth spoke about this weekend before Friday's practice session.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ON THIS CURRENT TRACK CONFIGURATION YOU COULDN'T DO BEFORE? "I think the biggest thing with this new configuration is it's created more grooves. You can actually pass somebody without hitting them or somebody can pass you without hitting you. It's a little easier to pass, a little bit more forgiving. If you get out of shape, you've got a lot of banking. The banking builds as you move up the track to kind of catch the car, so it really just kind of gave you more options and more places to try to pass."
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE? "As good as we did there towards the end with the old car and the old track, I think we might have won the last race or one of the last races before they switched cars and then they switched the track shortly thereafter, so with the old car and the old track I like that a lot just because we kind of had some little things figured out and ran pretty good with that and that was pretty intense. If we would have never raced with the old configuration I'd say I probably liked this better because it's more forgiving, but I kind of liked the old one just because it had a lot of character and a lot of little bumps and little things you could do."
HOW BIG IS THIS RACE? "Honestly, every weekend is really important and a really big race, so it's important for us to try to run good here. I don't know if it's any more or less important than any other weekend, but it's important for us to try to run good here. We've been a little off at Bristol since we switched to this car, really, and the configuration. I think Carl has maybe won three out of four of them with this car and this track, so we know the stuff is there. We just have to get our stuff running a little better."
HOW IMPORTANT IS KEEPING YOUR HEAD HERE? "I think it's important to stay patient everywhere, but especially here. There are two sides to that. It's a small track and you can't really be too patient or too careful or you'll get a lap down. It's not quite as important as it was before because it is a little more forgiving and there's a little bit more room to pass and move around, but certainly you've got to keep the car in one piece and you've got to be there at the end."
F1 IS GOING TO CROWN IT'S CHAMPION BY WHO WINS THE MOST. COULD THAT WORK HERE? "I have zero opinion on that. Usually, whoever does run the best throughout the entire year usually does win the championship more times than not, I think."
IS QUALIFYING HERE A CASE OF JUST GOING FOR IT? "Yeah, we go for it every week qualifying, I guess I'm just not the best at it so we're not always up there, but, yeah, I think it's important to qualify good everywhere."
WHAT ABOUT HERE? YOU DON'T LIKE QUALIFYING MUCH, RIGHT? "I like qualifying, I'm just not really that good at it, but I like qualifying. We just focus a lot more on race setup. We spend most of our day, even today on pole day, we spend most of our time on race setup because that's really what's important. Qualifying is just a starting position. We're worried more about our finishing position."
HOW WOULD THAT F1 RULE CHANGE NASCAR? "I don't think it would change the winners at all. It changes the points. I kind of said that when they gave the extra bonus points and all that stuff. I've never showed up at the track and not wanted to win. I've never been in the middle of a race and not wanted to win or not done my best to win, so I don't think it would really change that. Formula One is a lot different racing. There are only a few real competitive teams. I don't know how many cars start on a week, but I think it's less than 20 and they only have a few races a year, they only have 10 or 12 races, whatever it is, so I think it's kind of comparing apples to oranges. I don't think you can even compare the series or the style of racing or the kind of racing that we do. They usually drop the green and nobody passes each other all day and they watch them run around single file and the race is over. I don't think that's the kind of racing that we want or we should aim for. I think stock car racing is more side-by-side racing. There are 43 teams out here trying to compete for a win and the best finishes they can and the most points each and every week."
SO IT SHOULD BE MORE ABOUT CONSISTENCY, INSTEAD OF JUST TRYING TO DO WHAT YOU CAN TO WIN? "What else are you gonna do? You know what I mean? Everybody tries to win, but there are 43 cars and there can only be one winner. If you want to just say there's a winner and a loser, there's one winner and 42 losers then. You've got to rank those other 42 cars. It's a lot better to go out here and run fourth than it is to run 38th. There has to be a way to rank that and I think NASCAR has done a great job over the years to balance the difference between consistency and winning. They've done a lot of things to make more incentive for winning and carrying bonus points into the chase, giving an extra 10 points for winning. They've done a lot of that over the years to try to find that balance, and I think you always have to have that balance when you have this many cars and this many events."
ARE YOU AWARE OF THE GUYS ON THE TOP 35 BUBBLE DURING THE RACE? "No, not really. We really have our hands full running our own race and our own cars and going out there and trying to be competitive and trying to win and all that. It's something you glance at and you kind of know where they are just because the media covers it a lot or you'll maybe look at the points after the race, that type of thing, but when you're on the track, you really don't. You race everybody the same."
IS IT HARD TO KEEP YOUR COOL HERE AT BRISTOL? "It depends. Every situation and circumstance is different, but it's not really that hard. You have to realize how long the race is, I guess. There are certain situations you could probably get yourself in or maybe you not be as patient or not be as happy about things, but, really, you just approach it like any other race."
-credit: ford racing