Homestead, FL (November 16, 2003) - The celebration of the 2003 Champions: Roush Racing No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus Part 2 of 2 MATT KENSETH WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOUR ENGINE BLEW? "I was thinking about one word (laughing)....
Homestead, FL (November 16, 2003) - The celebration of the 2003 Champions: Roush Racing No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
Part 2 of 2
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOUR ENGINE BLEW?
"I was thinking about one word (laughing). What can you really say? Darn, you're done. I mean, it goes so fast. You don't really sit and think about it. It's not like a long drawn-out drama thing. You're ready to go in the corner, there's a teenie vibration and there's smoke and you shut it off and coast back to the garage. Whenever something like that happens, you know you can't fix it. That's disappointing early in the race because you know you're out. When you have a flat tire or something else happens there's a little more drama to that because you've got to figure out how to fix it and how to put your fender back on and still be competitive and not lose a lap. But when you break something that's terminal, it's just over for the day."
WERE YOU THANKFUL AFTER IT NT?
"Right now I'm thankful, but at that moment I wasn't thankful. At the moment you're frustrated because you're in it for that race and you're putting all your energy into that race, but, yeah, once it went I mean, overall, we've had two engine failures this year. I'm sure Jack and I and everybody wishes we'd had zero, but, still, it was a good year for us. Those were the only two mechanical failures of any kind we've had all year, so, sometimes it's gonna be your turn."
WHAT WENT INTO THE PROCESS TO ROLL THE BACKUP CAR OFF?
"I have no idea. You'd have to talk to a different department."
CAN YOU PUT INTO WORDS THE SATISFACTION OR VINDICATION YOU FEEL?
"I don't feel vindicated and I'm not satisfied. I guess I'm a little humbled and a little relaxed. It is a big thing. I am honored and when I came to NASCAR, I asked Les Richter for an entry and in 1998 he gave me an entry. That was huge because that meant on that day if I could go fast enough, which was for the 1988 Daytona 500, if Mark could go fast enough, we were gonna have a chance to race in front of 180,000 or 200,000 people that come down to watch a race. I felt that he gave me 1/43rd of an opportunity to be the focus of 1/43rd of that energy. Anybody that hasn't ridden on one of these trucks that hauls the drivers around, that hasn't been in a race car when the race has started or been where I've been - behind the pit wall when the races start and felt that energy - if there's another species of things that are alive someplace else in the universe there's probably a burst that goes out that's like a sun spot. If they've got equipment that they can pick up, it's just awesome how much energy goes with that thing. I remember I stood at the Charlotte race the first time they had that race at night and all the flash bulbs lit up keeping pace with the cars when they went around the race track the first time. That was awesome. That was really tremendous. Anyway, I feel humbled by the thing that I'm a part of. I'm appreciative of what Winston partnered with NASCAR to do and what they allowed me to come in and share and to bring some of my own small energy to and to share in all of that is bigger than me. It's bigger than my frustration and it's bigger than the competition that has been associated with it. It's just large and right now I'm kind of in awe."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO IMAGINE WHAT YOU'VE DONE IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME?
"I think you look back at a lot of things you do in life, but to this day I think we've always looked forward. I don't think we look back. The time we went down to Daytona we had no sponsor and we didn't know if we were gonna race the next week. I don't think we ever looked backwards, we looked to what we were gonna do. There weren't a whole lot of choices. He could drive for somebody. He could have went and drove for a couple of guys and I don't understand why he didn't, but somehow we hung together. The way this sport is where a lot of people don't hang together, we're getting a pay back for that. I think not only when you look at Matt and myself, but you've got to look at our whole team. Our whole team is a lot like that. We've got a lot of guys that hung in there. Russ Strupp and Todd Millard and Jeff Vandermoss are all back from our days back in Wisconsin.
"It's a tribute to all those people that this whole thing worked. We were fortunate to have fathers that had racing backgrounds and understood this deal and hung in there with us. Without that, I don't think any of this would be possible."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO IMAGINE WHAT YOU'VE DONE IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME?
"It's a people sport. There's a lot of people that have been with Robbie and I since we started. Since we started that five-race deal with Jack in '99, there are a couple of people Jack moved around within the organization that are still there, but I think there are maybe only two people or three people at the most that aren't with our group anymore. We might have moved some people and changed positions and this and that, but they have all stuck it out. Even when we had a terrible, awful year in 2001, the crew chief didn't get fired, the driver didn't get fired. We didn't do any of that. We all, as a group, worked on it together and tried to figure out what was wrong. That's a testament to Robbie. It's a testament to Jack - to everybody - for not giving up on that. I know Jack has a lot of people that have been with Roush Industries for a long, long time, too, and this is a big payback for those guys because without the equipment and without the personnel and without all the people behind you like we have, there's no way you'd ever be able to accomplish this. I guess when I think back about the people and stuff, the more I think about the people that have been on my crews through the years, the people that let me drive their cars through the years. The people that I raced against and the people that sponsored the cars. Anyone who got us enough money and gathered it up where we could go race because me and my dad could only afford to race so much. I had a guy's car that I'd drive on Thursday nights and then I had another guy's car that I would drive on Saturday nights somewhere. I had two or three different owners at one time just so I could race as much as I could. I think about all those people being a step in the ladder and without any of those steps, I don't think you'd ever get to the top."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT WISCONSIN DRIVERS?
"I think the biggest thing is it's probably a family sport up there. All of the guys that do a lot of racing up there, their fathers raced, their kids raced - that type of thing. All of us had to build equipment from square one. We had to pay for it. We had to race it. We had to work on it. That's how you did it up there. We could race so many race tracks. I raced against Matt. We probably raced against each other Thursday through Sunday every weekend and then we went and ran specials on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday we raced against each other. You could run probably 70 shows, I think, from April to September and you'd run on all different type of race tracks. Flat tracks, banked tracks - and the competition was pretty fierce. Everybody knows Dick Trickle and that legendary program there. We raced against those type of competitors every night and that's what built this thing for Wisconsin racing."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT BEING THE LAST WINSTON CUP CHAMPION?
"Not really. I haven't thought of my place in history yet because I hope I have a lot more to make. I haven't really looked back at it that way, but I have sure felt honored to be part of the group that have been Winston Cup champions and for our team to be part of that. There aren't many people that even get the chance to race at this level let alone be successful and drive for a championship team. It was a really special today when I got to do that victory lap with Richard Petty being the first Winston Cup champion in '71, I think it was, and then we're the last one. It's kind of an end of an era there with Winston being part of this sport. It was pretty cool to be able to put the flag up there with my name on it with all those other champions. It's a really special thing and it's pretty unbelievable."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU'LL AVE AS A CHAMPION?
"I'm looking forward to going to New York and doing all that stuff. When we finished eighth last year, I wasn't really looking forward to going up on stage and giving a speech and doing all that, but this year I'm really looking forward to it. I think when you do stuff like that, it's all what you make of it. If you go into with a positive attitude, you're gonna have fun doing it. I think the coolest thing is we'll be able to do stuff that we never, ever in our whole lives would have gotten to experience if it wasn't for what we accomplished this year - like meeting the President and going on some of those TV shows and doing some of those things. That's something I'm really gonna enjoy and that's something I'm really gonna enjoy. That's something I'm really gonna look forward to and think of that week as a big celebration for my team and for Jack and for my teammates and everybody that's been able to accomplish this."
YOU'LL HAVE A LOT OF FUN THINGS TO DO.
"Yeah, it'll be cool. I'm looking forward to doing all that kind of stuff. It's cool to be able to do all that, especially in the off season before we get back to racing real hard and testing and doing all that stuff. I'm looking forward to going up there."