Charlotte: Kenseth post-qualifying interview

MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus (Qualified 3rd) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SUNDAY? "I don't know. The last time we ran this car is the last time we really ran very well. We qualified really well at California and raced really well most of...

MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus (Qualified 3rd)

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SUNDAY?

"I don't know. The last time we ran this car is the last time we really ran very well. We qualified really well at California and raced really well most of the day. I don't really know. We've been struggling so bad the last few months that I'm not really sure. We started today in race trim and made some changes and when we unloaded it drove just like the car did last weekend, which was terrible - pretty much a last-place car, and by the time we got done it actually drove pretty decent and felt fairly competitive, so I'll really have a better answer for that, I guess, Saturday night after practice. But Jeff talked about learning the track. I've been going through some of that too. We didn't test and when I came here I just kind of drove off what I heard other people say and it is different and it does take a little time to get used to it, so, hopefully, the extra practice today will help and we'll be able to run up front on Sunday."

IS THE TRACK TOO FAST?

"I think it's exactly the same as what Jeff said. I mean, everybody gets personal to certain tracks. I don't like a lot of change in a lot of things, but this was one of my favorite tracks or probably my favorite track. I made my first Busch Series start here and we all race here a lot with all the laps in the all-star race and the longest race of the year and all that stuff. I thought before it had character. I thought before when you caught somebody you could always pass them, it seemed like to me. You could get up close to them and get them off the bottom and get underneath them and you really had to hit a good line getting into three because of the bumps, and there was a lot of character to it. Being smooth and fast is cool for qualifying night and for everybody to watch, but I don't think that necessarily translates into a better race. It's probably a little easier to drive. I don't know if it's gonna be easier to setup for or not, but it's probably a little easier driving and you can definitely go faster by yourself. I don't think when all the cars get together that the fans know the difference or we know the difference of three or four or five miles an hour, but the cars know the difference and it does make it tougher to pass and race around each other."

WHERE ARE THE DIFFERENCES ON THE TRACK?

"It's hard to explain. It's just a different track. It just feels different. It almost looks different. Just before it was real rough and the groove was right on the bottom in one and two and there was one spot right down by the white line where it seemed like all the grip was. There was one really good way to get around here if your car worked good and now it's just different than that. It's smoother. It has more grip and you can run up higher than you ever used to before."

WE WERE TOLD WHEN THIS GRINDING PROCESS STARTED THAT IT WOULD MAKE FOR MORE SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING. WAS THAT JUST WRONG FROM THE GET-GO OR IS THIS A SURPRISING OUTCOME?

"I think a promoter's job is to fill the seats up and I think whenever you do you're probably thinking about better racing to fill the seats up in the future, but I think the big hype and all the advertising and all the names doing stuff is to try to fill the seats up this weekend. I mean, that's what their job is to do. It is different. But when they do this I kind of compare it to Atlanta. I remember when they paved Atlanta and it got reconfigured before I started racing down here, but the first few I watched at home and heard everybody talk about how bad the race was. The groove was on the bottom and I fell asleep in the middle of the race. Now that it's wore out and the grip is down and the speeds are down, it's one of the best races of the year - I think, at least to be part of and to be able to pass somebody. I think as a fan to watch there at Rockingham and all of those tracks once they start to lose grip - Michigan - that's I think when the racing is good. It is exciting to watch pole night and see how fast somebody can go and all that, but it's like we've both been saying, I don't know if that's gonna create better racing. We all talk about aerodynamic problems and how dependent the cars are on air today, well the faster you go the more dependent they are on air. When you're by yourself, that's great. But when you're around other cars the less grip you're gonna have."

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THIS NEW SURFACE? DURING TESTING MOST REVIEWS WERE POSITIVE. AT THE CHALLENGE IT WAS MIXED. NOW IT'S LIKE A DISASTER.

"I think that whenever you get a track like he said, smooth and you get running fast, it's always a lot of fun and you're gonna have great reviews, and I don't think the reviews are it's a disaster. I still think a lot of the cars were wiped out last week. It's a little tough to run side-by-side. I talked about filling the grandstands and didn't so much mean it to be a gimmick either. I think you want to make better racing and fill the grandstands, but this time nobody knew what it was gonna bring. So I think everybody wants to be here to see what it's gonna bring and I think you have to wait until after 600 miles to judge it. Some of us really loved the place the way it was, so you maybe have a little harder time converting or saying how much you like it because we loved it before. I think it's still a good race track and it'll probably still be a good race, it's just gonna be a different race. I think it's better than a new coat of asphalt, for sure."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup