Matt Kenseth is one of two active Ford drivers to have won a Coca-Cola 600, claiming the crown in 2000. That victory marked the last win for Ford at Charlotte and Kenseth took time to talk about how to figure out the CMS track, Fords current...
Matt Kenseth is one of two active Ford drivers to have won a Coca-Cola 600, claiming the crown in 2000. That victory marked the last win for Ford at Charlotte and Kenseth took time to talk about how to figure out the CMS track, Fords current winless drought and how he hopes to earn $100,000 for the military this weekend.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK HEADING INTO SUNDAY? "I am looking forward to qualifying tonight. We didn't well last week or at the test, so we tried to get as much done as we could today. I am really just thinking about qualifying. I really hope it doesn't rain Saturday so that we can get some more practice time in. The longest race of the year can be really long if you don't have your car handling right. We have been working on our race setup a lot to find something better than last week."
HALF OF THIS RACE IS IN THE HEAT OF DAY AND HALF AT NIGHT, HOW DO YOU FIGURE THAT OUT? "The cars aren't as adjustable as they were six or seven years ago. The way we run, a lot of these cars with the bump stops are not as adjustable as what we used to be able to do. I honestly would be happy if I could get my car to drive good at any kind of track condition right now. We could adjust off of that. We haven't really been able to get it to drive right in the sun or late at night in the All-Star race. If I could find something that was balanced, even if it was slow, if you can get it to feel good you can make adjustments to keep up with the track. The main things we have learned is to make sure you have enough splitter clearance during the day because the track is so much slower than it would be late at night when you have to go fast and need that clearance. I think you just try to get the balance the best you can and have something to work with when the track cools off."
LOOKING AT THIS SEASON AND BEING WIN LESS IN THE FORD RANKS, DO YOU FEEL IT IS IN THE ENGINE OR CHASSIS OR BOTH? "I don't think we have a horsepower shortage or anything with the engine. You could always use more horsepower, but Doug Yates and his guys to a great job there with the old engine and the new FR-9 when we start running that. We just aren't going through the corners fast enough. Whether that is chassis, shocks or aero I don't know. We are working on all areas to try getting it better. Certainly over all of this year we are better than where we were last year, we just still need to get a little better to run up there with the best cars."
AS A MANUFACTURER, IS IT TIME TO BRING SOMEONE FROM OUTSIDE TO SHAKE THINGS UP? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS ARE STUCK AND MISSING SOMETHING? "People that make those decisions are way over my pay grade, so I don't know how those decisions are made. I don't think it is a manufacturer problem. Ford gives us everything we need to run well. They provide us with a lot of resources, and they always have. Even when things were bad last year they did that. When you talk about Ford as a manufacturer, all the eggs are in one basket. We are all running the same chassis, have the same engineering department and group of engineers. We run the same engine and have the same body. If we are off as an organization then we are all off. The core of it is there so that if one is off, we are all going to be off. We just have to keep working at it. I don't know the answer as far as bringing someone in or mixing things up. I have my opinions and voice them regularly, but there is only so much I can do."
DO YOU THINK IF NASCAR CHANGED ITS TESTING POLICY THAT WOULD HELP? "I don't think it would make a difference to be honest with you. If we can test, then everybody would be able to test. You have to figure out how to get a step ahead. I feel like most of the time we are trying to get caught up. While we are catching up, the guys you are trying to catch up to are working on the next thing and you are always a step behind. I feel like if you tested then you would learn some things, but so would everybody else. I don't think it would make much of a difference. I would like to be able to test a little bit at some tracks, but when nobody can go it is kind of cool too because it is the same for everybody and saves a lot of money and time."
YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WITH YOUR PAINT SCHEME AND SPONSOR FOR THE MILITARY THIS WEEK RIGHT? "Yeah, Jeremiah Weed is donating $10,000 to a military charity with it being Memorial Day weekend and it goes up to $100,000 if we can win Sunday night. Jeremiah Weed is legendary throughout the military, especially the Air Force. The fighter pilots used to enjoy Jeremiah Weed bourbon after they completed a successful mission. That is a Air Force tradition that goes back a long time and they are doing this promotion this weekend and July 4th weekend to try giving back to some military charities."
-source: ford racing