Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into this weekend. He spoke about this weekend prior to practice. MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion HOW BIG...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into this weekend. He spoke about this weekend prior to practice.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS THIS FOR YOU? "It's cool. It's one of the biggest races of the year for sure and it's always cool to come to Indy. It's a big race for us and, hopefully, we can do something decent."
HOW DOES IT RANK TO OTHER BIG RACES IN NASCAR? "When I think of it for the year I think it's in the top three or four for sure as far as races that you'd like to do good in, so I think every driver is a little bit different. There are certain races that are probably more important to them for other reasons, but certainly the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard and I think the 600 in Charlotte are definitely three of the biggest races."
ARE YOU JUST TRYING TO KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN FROM HERE ON OUT OR ARE YOU TRYING TO GET EVERY POINT YOU CAN? "It's still five points a place and everybody thinks we're in, but I don't think we're really locked into the chase. You've seen what happened to Junior a couple of weeks ago and how fast things can change, so I think we need to make sure we keep doing our job and try to operate at a championship level and hopefully gain some points on the 48. Our goal is to be leading the points going into the chase, so hopefully we can do those things and get up front. We've had a few mediocre finishes the last two weeks. Hopefully we can get back on track and start getting some top fives and challenging for some wins again."
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT GETTING CAUGHT UP WITH THE GUYS FIGHTING TO GET IN? "No, I don't think it really has that much. I think things have changed a little bit through the points with things happening, but I think the racing is about the same as always. It's intense every week. I don't think it matters where you are in points, it's intense every week and you're trying to go out and get the best finish you can all the time."
ARE YOU MORE LIKELY TO SETTLE FOR A TOP FIVE OR BE AGGRESSIVE TO WIN? "No, I know this thing is always a big story with everybody, but everybody races every week to win, I think. That's what it's all about is winning races. Everytime I look at it, you get the most points to lead the most laps and win the race. That's what you try to do every week. You try to take what you're given that day and do the very best job you can with it and finish as high up front as you can with it. If you've got a winning car, hopefully you can win with it. If you don't have a winning car, you finish with what you're capable of doing on that day."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO THIS TRACK? "You've got to be able to turn good and get off the corners really good. They've got long straightaways so everybody thinks about horsepower, but it's really about getting through the corner the fastest and that will help carry you down the straightaway. You need a little bit of everything here. You need a good motor, but you've got to be turning good off the corner to be able to drive under people off the corner to be able to make passes."
YOU WON A TITLE UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM. HOW MUCH WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IT UNDER THIS ONE? "I think you'd like to win it under any system. It's a really competitive sport. It's hard to do it the old way and it's hard to do it the new way, so I don't really see it as really that different. If you can get into the final 10 races, it's still about being consistent. The 20 last year was consistent through the last 10 and didn't win a race, so it's about being consistent and getting the good finishes and not having problems in the last 10 just like it's always been."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM? "I felt really good about the whole season, but the last few weeks we've made a couple of mistakes and got taken out of one race. We just didn't do good at Loudon and didn't run very good at Pocono, so the last few weeks we've lost a little bit of momentum, which I think is very important to get that back before the chase, but up to that point we've been leading laps, we've been up front, and we've had a lot of top fives. We've had a lot of chances to win races and only finished two of them off, but we've been in position a lot, so I feel like they're operating at a high level right now. I think we need to step it back up a notch before the chase starts, which, hopefully, we can do. It's a long season. Now you're kind of in the middle of the summer and you're done with all your off weekends. There's a lot of racing through the end of the year, so we've got to figure out how to keep this thing rolling."
HOW VALUABLE WAS THE WEEK OFF? "That's a good question. I don't feel a whole lot different than what I did. I was actually really busy last week, but hopefully for the team it gets everybody rested up and ready to go for the last 16 or 18 or whatever it is. Hopefully, everybody is ready and got their batteries all charged up because it's a long stretch to the end."
YOU'RE NEXT TO JEFF BURTON IN THE GARAGE. WHY DO YOU FEEL JEFF HAS REBOUNDED? "They've got their cars better. Jeff has always proven that he's a great race car driver and a championship contender all the time. You can only go as fast as your cars can take you. We've seen that with everybody in this sport, including Jeff Gordon a couple of years ago. They had an off year or off time where they haven't run up to his capabilities, so it's about everybody doing their job at a top level to be able to win these races. It's not just about drivers, it's about pit stops and the whole deal. Jeff is awesome. If we couldn't win it, I'd love to see him win it. He's been running great all year and it's cool to see him back in that form gain and I'm sure they're gonna win some races here pretty soon."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TONY STEWART TAKING IT UPON HIMSELF TO BE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE OUT THERE? "I don't have any comment on that."
HE SAID IT'S ABOUT HOW SOME OF THE GUYS RACE EARLY IN THE RACE AND HE JUST REACTS TO IT, BUT IT COULD CAUSE GUYS TO GET CAUGHT UP IN SOMETHING YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH. "I still don't have any comment on that."