NOTE: Joe Clayton, president and CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio, announced that he would gave a Sirius Satellite radio system to all members of the 17 team that traveled to the race this weekend. JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --17-- DEWALT Power Tools ...
NOTE: Joe Clayton, president and CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio, announced that he would gave a Sirius Satellite radio system to all members of the 17 team that traveled to the race this weekend.
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN AT YOUR HOME TRACK? "MIS is home for me. Many of the race teams look at the Charlotte race track based on where they live and where they work and maybe when they were kids, that was the first big race track they went to. Well, the first big race track I went to when I came out of the hills of southern Ohio and went to work for Ford Motor Company was the MIS track. That was the first big race track I was ever on and I have enjoyed in recent years the beautiful countryside flying my warbirds over. I've got a number of friends and people that I aggravate in airports around that I say hi to from time to time. I haven't been able to do much of that the last two months. I've only been out one time, but it's home for me. When we do really poorly here, and I remember the times we've done poorly as much as the times that we've won, it's a huge embarrassment and I can't wait to come back for the next race. We enjoy racing here. It's a big, safe, wide-open race track where aerodynamics makes a big difference. The way the race track runs with relatively few cautions means that pit stop performance is really important. A lot of your pit stops wind up being in a green flag circumstance and if you're able to concentrate on fuel economy and make that work, then that plays out to be a factor more here than most anyplace else. It's great to be back. It's great to win. It's great to be here with Matt.
CAN YOU UPDATE YOUR CONDITION AND SCHEDULE? "I'm in therapy. I had a neuropsychologist that wanted to spend some time with me. Pretty sure there was something disconnected that they were gonna try to hook up for some of the things I've been into at 60 years old, but I sidestepped that. I really didn't want to know what they'd think about me if they took a really close look. The one injury that I had that was really serious, not that drowning wasn't very serious. I had basically drowned until Larry Hicks pulled me out of that lake, but once I got over being drowned, then I had a compound fracture of my left femur and three or four broken bones in my left ankle. They put a piece of titanium. I've got some hardware in my left leg and they put a bunch of apparatus and screws in my ankle and that has healed adequately for me to be in aggressive therapy. Aggressive therapy on a day like today is going up and down the pit ladders of two or three of the crews, having conversation with the crew chiefs about what was going on, and then I spend about 10 hours a week at the Med Sports Center at the University of Michigan Physical Therapy -- the location at Domino's Farms office building. We're working well on that. We've done well enough with that in the two weeks we've been at Domino's that they gave me the week off. Next week, I'm gonna join my daughter in San Antonio tonight and get on the Great American Race with my 1940 Ford go to Anaheim, California for Sears Point."
THOUGHTS ON THE RED FLAG? "I haven't had conversation with Matt, but I'm sure we'll agree. We want to finish these races under green for the fans. There were three or four ways Matt could have won that race today and the way that put it in greatest jeopardy was to have a red flag and stop it, so we would have two or three laps of green flag racing, but that's what we need to do. The fans get turned off, I get turned off whenever the races finish under yellow. We want to finish under green. Today, it might have worked against us. There will be times where it will work out in our favor and it's better for the sport."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
WHAT ABOUT THE END? "I was really nervous about the red flag for a lot of reasons, but, all day everytime a yellow came out, we came in and got tires so I never had one restart all day on old tires. All my restarts were on cold, cleaned off sticker tires that had a lot of grip. So I wasn't really sure what my car was gonna do. My tires were pretty used up. I was running the high side beforehand and I knew that on a short run that wasn't gonna work, so I just had a lot of questions. I didn't know how my car was gonna react. I hoped it was gonna be good enough to get going, but I didn't really know what to expect driving off into turn one. When you make a four-lap shootout and there are 15 cars on the lead lap all nose to tail, they're all gonna be going for it, so the first guy that drives off in there is a little bit nervous.
WHAT WAS THE TEAM REACTION? "The team is really pumped up, obviously. It was a good team victory. We had a great pit stop at the end and that's what put us in contention, but the thing that got them most excited was that Sirius said they were gonna give each and every one of them a free satellite radio, so that got them more excited than anything. It was a great team effort. They did a great job with the gas-and-go. We gained a lot of time there and they're pretty pumped up right now.
JACK ROUSH "The team is just doing an awesome job. They managed to put Matt in a position to be ahead of where he would be with the way the car was running and the car runs good a lot, but they improve his lot on pit road consistently. That's huge. This is my 15th year of doing this and this has been the best pit crew performance as it relates to where you come in on pit road and where you're able to go back out. This is the best we've ever been able to do. They're just doing an awesome job. Robbie has done a great job of leading that bunch of guys to do what they've done. They put Matt in a position to get the pole at The Winston. They won the pit crew contest at Rockingham in the fall. They're at the top of their game."
KENSETH -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE GAS-AND-GO STOP? "There's a lot that goes into it, but what got us in the position originally was the pit stop before that. We gained three or four spots and that got us going. The gas-and-go, you've just got to do the best job you can to get on pit road as fast as you can, but if you're not gonna put tires on, you've got to be real careful not to lock the tires up and flat spot them. So, I probably got on and off pit road pretty good, but the guys did a really good job. Even though we haven't practiced it hardly at all, we've got a real good gasman (Benjy Grubbs) and a good gasman can save you a lot of time. The earlier he gets the thing plugged in, if you can start rolling ahead to start your momentum and he can walk with you and keep that thing plugged in, you're gonna gain a lot of time. They just had the whole system for it and we got just as much gas as we needed. We also got ahead because Jack's got these things getting such good gas mileage. We could run four or five laps longer than the 48 car, so we needed that much less fuel to get to the end."
ROUSH -- "Robbie did just a great job. I went down and had a conversation with Robbie about what was the minimum amount of gas and Robbie's instruction to Matt was, 'One, go,' and that was all he needed -- just two seconds of gas."
KENSETH -- WERE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE JARRETT AND AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALIZE YOU HAD TO USE THE WHOLE TRACK TO WIN? "I was gonna use it all no matter what. When the 12 got behind me and I came off turn two at the white flag, I thought I had lost the race. I got in the gas too early, getting a little greedy with it to try to get a good run down the straightaway, and I got pushing really bad and all the way out by the crossover gate. I actually had to breathe the throttle a little bit and usually when you do that, you're done because they'll go by you down the straightaway. I looked back expecting the 12 to be underneath me and he did the same thing. He must have got pushing there or something too and had to get out of the gas, so I was quite a bit ahead of him and I was really surprised. Then I looked back a second later and the 88 was all the way alongside of him and he was coming. He must have gotten through there the way you're supposed to get through there, so he closed in real fast. I got into three and he was right on my bumper. I had the car a little loose, but I was able to get off four fast enough to where he was still behind me and to where he wasn't gonna get by me by the time I got to the line."
JACK ROUSH -- WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR? "Goodyear gave us a great tire last year, but it threw us. Anybody that had any experience with the tires they had before were lost for awhile, so we spent a long time trying to figure out if we had our tires screwed up -- if we had forgotten what we needed to do with the shocks -- if the experienced drivers had forgotten what they were wanting to feel in the car. It took awhile to get all of that sorted out, so that cost us a lot of last year. We broke some parts last year. We didn't run as good as we could on many occasions -- for hardware reasons that were my fault -- but the preparations were made. In the 2000-2001 winter, everything was exactly the same in terms of analyzing the things that had gone right and the things that had gone wrong and making a long list of the things you'd never do again and a short list of the things that worked right and putting those into your initial plans for 2002. There was not more people. They weren't different people. There wasn't more money spent. We just finally got a little luck in terms of having things work the way we need to. I say we, I'm really speaking of Matt, Mark and Jeff, they got more or less familiar with the tire to where they knew what to expect from one race track to the next and we settled down on our cars. Last year we had a whole myriad of car combinations. We were trying to pin the tail on the donkey and try to figure out what was gonna stick. This year, we had some pretty good cars we understood when we went into the winter and we built a lot of them in preparation for this year."
ARE YOU DRIVING DIFFERENTLY THIS YEAR? "I don't think there's really anything you're doing different. Jack pretty much summed it up. It's so competitive. I'll never underestimate how competitive it is again. It's so competitive that if you get a little bit off. I think five years ago you could be a little off and run fifth or sixth or seventh if you were a top team, and now if you get a little bit off you can easily run 20th or 25th, so it's just really difficult. You've got to have everything right. These cars are really aerosensitive and they're really sensitive to a lot of things and we've been able to get a better handle on the setups for these tires and a better handle on our bodies and everything else. There are a lot of departments that make this deal work and everybody in their department is doing a good job of figuring out how to make their part better."
KENSETH -- YOU HAD SOME BAD LUCK RECENTLY. WAS THERE ANY DOUBT ON YOUR TEAM YOU'D COME BACK? "You never come planning to win. We ran pretty good the last time we were here. After happy hour our car wasn't nearly as fast as some of the other guys, but we were pretty decent in the long runs. The last couple of weeks, you feel bad about going home and seeing your 40th and losing points and everything, but yet, some things you can't control. We were doing everything we could do. We had a really fast car at Dover. We won our first pole and I thought we ran really, really good there and had a tire come apart there for whatever reason. Sometimes it's hard to figure out why that happens. I don't believe it was really something we did and last week we just broke a part. It was something that I've never seen really break before and I think it was just a freak thing. I don't believe it was from shifting too hard or the guys that put it together did it wrong or anything like that, it was just a bad part and we broke a part. We were running second at the time, so I felt the things that we could control we've been doing a fairly good job at it. Our performance has been good more times than it hasn't, so we've just got to take it one race at time and do the best job we can managing everything that we can manage and see where the points turn out.
CAN YOU GO THROUGH THE RESTART? "The main thing I try to do on a restart is I try to watch the guy in my mirror. They tell you to restart in the vicinity of the double red stripe -- not necessarily right at it -- so people will generally try to hang back and then try to anticipate you getting on the gas and then you going and they'll have a run on you and they'll pass you. It's pretty easy, so I always try to watch for that. I wait until the guy gets a little run up on me and then when he has to slow down from hitting me, then I usually try to hit the gas and get going the best I could. I tried to do that a little bit to get going, but I really didn't get as much of a jump as I hoped to get. You just watch your mirror a lot. If they start looking under you, you try to block him and stay in front of him the best you can. Then you try to get through the corner as fast as you can and block them as much as you can if somebody is trying to draft up on you.
WHAT ABOUT THE EMOTION TO WIN IN JACK'S BACKYARD? "It's great to win at home for anybody. It's not necessarily my home track, but it's pretty close to where I grew up too and it's obviously the home of Jack and everybody at Roush Industries. I think it's really cool that Jack's family could be out here and see all this and everybody at Roush Industries, who work so hard on our engines and a lot of our engineering. They build a lot of our components and add a lot to our team. That's kind of where everything started from to build this race team. For all of those guys to put in all that hard work and then they kind of come out here to see the results of what they do. So, whenever you win it's a good feather in their cap and to win in their backyard gets all the guys pumped up. We're close to the Motor City where everybody builds their cars, so it's a great victory for Jack and Roush Industries and for Ford.
DID YOU THINK OF PITTING AT THE END? "It wasn't for me. I kept asking Robbie how many cars were on the lead lap and I think he was thinking that I wanted to pit and I said, 'I'm not gonna pit no matter what.' So I wasn't worried about that, but I didn't know the 88 had new tires on. The way he was coming through there, that's the first time I knew that. If you were fifth or sixth on back, I probably would have come in and got tires, but if you were fifth or forward, you had to stay out. It didn't really turn out like that, but if the 12 and 48 would have gotten side-by-side and even ran one lap side-by-side, it would have slowed the progress for those guys behind them. He (Jarrett) must have just got a good line and everybody was single file. New tires are still better than old tires, but as good as the tires Goodyear has been making the last two years, they don't really slow up that much -- a half-second drop off where maybe in the past here you would have a second or second-and-a-half drop off. Old tires aren't quite as much of a disadvantage they used to be."
WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR SPOTTER PLAY IN A THREE-LAP DASH? "I usually just tell him to be quiet (joking). No, the start I just take off and at a track like this you can look in your mirror a lot of times, but he definitely helps me a lot. When you get down in the corner, even though the corners are so big, you're still pretty busy and you're trying to get through that corner as fast as you can, so you can't really look in the mirror through the corner. He's trying to tell me where they're looking and where they're coming from. In the middle of the backstretch, he said the 88 was coming on the bottom and he was getting really good grip on the bottom, so I decided to pull to the bottom as far as I could on my tires into turn three to try to block his progress down there to try to make him go high and get the best run off of four. I thought that was my best bet, so with a track this wide, they can help you a lot and tell you if you're not leading, where the leader is running on the track or where the guys running faster than you are, what groove they're running in. Sometimes that can help you.
(NOTE: Mike Calinoff is Kenseth's spotter). DO YOU AGREE WITH JARRETT THAT IF HE HAD ONE MORE CORNER HE WOULD HAVE PASSED YOU? "It sure looked like it if he came from ninth to catch me, but that's the great thing -- we didn't have one more corner. He was definitely coming on. I didn't realize he had those four new tires. I thought I had a really good run off four and he was able to get into three and four right up on me -- right on my bumper -- so I'm sure when I went down into one he was gonna go right by me, but I'm glad it was over when it was over. It was a weird thing. With five or six laps to go we have a five-second lead and your starting to feel pretty good about everything and know that all you've got to do is coast it home and it would be pretty hard for you to mess it up, and then all of a sudden the red flag comes out and they put everybody nose-to-tail and open the pits. Some people got tires and some people didn't, so your emotions change quite a bit there in a relatively short period of time."