Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Jeremiah Weed Ford Fusion, is in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top-12 heading into this weekend's Coke Zero 400. He conducted a Q&A session at Daytona International Speedway to discuss the weekend. ARE THE CARS...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Jeremiah Weed Ford Fusion, is in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top-12 heading into this weekend's Coke Zero 400. He conducted a Q&A session at Daytona International Speedway to discuss the weekend.
ARE THE CARS A HANDFUL? "Yeah, but I like that, I love that. You kind of knew it would be with the big plate and we're going pretty fast, and the pavement wore out, which is what makes Daytona great in my opinion. I mean, you run real fast on new tires and you're able to pass, and I think having tires and having your car handling is gonna be way more important than probably drafting and being quite as much at the mercy of other drivers and being in the right group, if we can get some long runs. I look forward to that. It's gonna be fun. This is probably, depending on what they use for asphalt when they repave it, this might be the last time we ever race here, in my career anyway, in these kind of conditions. I'm looking forward to it. It's gonna be slick and sliding around a lot, and it's gonna be fun."
THE NATIONWIDE CARS SEEM TO BE A HANDFUL. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT THAT NEW CAR? "I haven't heard anything about the Nationwide cars except for what you just told me, to be real honest with you. I haven't heard anything about them. I haven't talked to Carl or anybody that's driven them yet. I didn't get down until today, so I don't really know. I saw some pictures of the car and I think they look really cool. I think the front looks awesome compared to our cars. I think that will be a good upgrade when they upgrade our stuff. I think they look neat, but, other than that, I don't really know anything about them."
ARE YOU RUNNING SOME NATIONWIDE NEW CAR RACES THIS YEAR? "Right now on the plan I believe I'm running Atlanta, but I think that's an old-style car, so I don't think so. I'd like to. I was hoping to be able to run Michigan because they're gonna run them there, but I don't think that worked out."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD GO BACK TO LETTING EVERYBODY TEST? "I like it how it is. I don't think they should open up testing. I think the less testing we do, the better. I'd rather run four more races than to have four tests or eight tests. I'd rather go to the race track and race. There are some places sometimes where it would be nice, if there are rule changes or something like that, to be able to go and test every once in a while. I don't feel like testing, at least we haven't found the right place or combination of tire, to test where we really learn very much. It seems like some teams maybe have, but we really haven't. There aren't really a lot of tracks out there where they don't run touring races at, so it's hard to find places to go and do that. I think there could be benefits to running a little bit at some places, but I certainly don't think we need to get it back to how it used to be, especially when you've got a bigger team.
"If everybody gets seven tests, then you've got a hauler somewhere every week. You're going all the way to California and all the way to New Hampshire and Daytona, and I don't think anybody can afford that. I'm not really convinced that it would make the racing better. I don't think more testing is gonna make the racing any better. I think the racing has been pretty good, you've just got to work hard to figure out your stuff during the week."
CAN YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE WITH THE BIGGER PLATE AND WILL CONDITIONS CHANGE WHEN TEMPS GO DOWN AT NIGHT? "I could not tell a big change in the plate, but everything else is so different that I don't know how I'd be able to tell that. It's been four or five months since we've been here. There is a spoiler on the car and not a wing. It's July and not February. There are so many things that are different that I can't honestly tell the difference once we get going. I can't tell if I'm going 200 or 195. You're out there running with those other cars and trying to get your car to handle, but I will say that it seemed like it didn't take long into the run where most people had to start letting off the gas, and handling is gonna be really important. If you didn't start letting off the gas and you're trying to make moves in the middle or do certain things, I saw a lot of out of control cars out there at certain times that were ready to wreck, but I think that's great. That's what racing is - to try and drive your car faster through the corner than everybody else. When they repave it, and how Talladega is now, anybody can drive that. You can hold it wide-open all day and never slip a tire and never do anything, so I enjoy the challenge of running down the straightaway and looking forward to the next corner and hoping you're gonna make it through and figure out how to negotiate through there the best you can. I think that's fun."
HOW HAS IT BEEN GOING WITH JIMMY SO FAR, AND WILL TODD'S INFLUENCE BE FELT AT SPEEDWAYS LIKE THIS AS LONG AS HE'S WITH ROUSH FENWAY? "Yeah, I've known Jimmy for a long time. It was good last week. We had a good weekend. We didn't run well, but when we unloaded it off the truck, that was the slowest we were all weekend, and when we put it on the truck, it was the best we were all weekend. We made improvement all weekend and we made it better. Even though it still wasn't a great showing, we definitely made it better the whole time. Practice today is like practice at Chicago because the cars all really need to handle and are sliding around so much, so we've just been really working on handling stuff and not speedway stuff as much. But, I talked to Todd during practice about what our cars were doing and he stopped by to see how we were doing and help us work on our stuff, so Todd was great doing what he was doing with us, but he's real great at the speedway stuff as well and helping the organization with all that."
YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND JAMIE WON TALLADEGA LAST YEAR. ARE YOU LOOKING GOOD OUT THERE NOW? "I don't know. Our speedway stuff has been better the last couple of years for sure. We've performed better and been running better. Greg, I think, had a shot to win the 500 and I think he had a shot to win Talladega as well this year, and I think one of the races last year he was right there at the end, too. Greg has been running real fast at these tracks and running real good as well, so it's anybody's game. I hope it gets into a little bit longer runs so handling really comes into play, but it's gonna be hard to tell who the favorite is until you get into a longer run and see how everybody's cars are handling."
DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES OF THE BLUE No. 3 CAR HERE? "I haven't seen it yet, to be honest with you. I haven't seen it yet or watched any of that. I guess I heard about it and saw the car sitting someone in a picture or something, but I think it's pretty cool. I'm sure they'll sell a lot of diecasts and t-shirts. I think it's cool that he's driving the 3. I think everybody thought someday he was gonna go drive the 3 again and, really, to be honest, it makes me remember more about running the Busch Series with Dale Jr., and always ran the 3 car and racing against each other for championships. We both started the same year and moved up to Cup together the same year, so that really brings up more of those memories, to be honest, than anything. It just reminds me of how much fun we had racing for those couple of years in the Busch Series, now the Nationwide Series."
ARE YOU RACING ANY DIFFERENTLY THESE DAYS THAN PREVIOUSLY? "The situation is a lot different than I think the guys you're talking about. I've been racing to stay on the lead lap and to try to get the best finish we can and try to cling to a spot in the top 12 to try and get into the chase, while we're trying to improve our program. So that's a lot different than racing aggressive for a win or that type of thing. It's way different when you get in the middle of the pack. You don't have the luxury of having a lot of room to let other people go and get out of their way and then catch back up to them later. You're pretty much racing your guts out every lap to keep every position that you can and usually aggravating the faster cars at the same time because you are kind of in the way. That's kind of where we've been lately, but, not really. If you're in that position to try to win, you're always gonna do everything you can to win and race as hard as you can without doing someone wrong, or running someone over and doing any of that. For me, that doesn't really change. Some of the Sears Point stuff was wild just because we're at a half-groove race track trying to run two-wide around corners that you can barely get one car through. Nobody wants to give, so that's kind of why you have that at Sears Point, but I don't know about the other races. I guess I didn't see any of that."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PING-PONG MATCH TOMORROW? "I don't know much about it. I think there's a tennis player I'm playing ping-pong with. It sounds cool. I don't think I've ever played ping-pong."
-source: ford racing