Matt Kenseth is battling to secure a spot in the Top 12 for the annual Chase for the Sprint Cup. He held a Q&A sessions Friday afternoon before practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the ...
Matt Kenseth is battling to secure a spot in the Top 12 for the annual Chase for the Sprint Cup. He held a Q&A sessions Friday afternoon before practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion --
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DEWALT LEAVING AT THE END OF THE YEAR? "They've been around for 11 or 12 seasons, I guess, including the Nationwide Series car. They started with the Reiser's in '99, so, yeah, we've been racing together for a long time. I've got a lot of great friends at the company. I'll continue to have a lot of great friends at the company, but certainly it's disappointing we couldn't figure out how to make all of that work and keep it all together somehow. But I guess it's a little bit of the sign of the times. The tool business obviously is very weak. When construction is that weak, the tool business is gonna be weak and we just couldn't make it all happen."
GEOFF SMITH SAID IT WASN'T MUCH OF A SURPRISE. IS THAT YOUR VIEW? "Yes and now. I guess I somewhat tried to keep up with how they were doing, going back and forth. Two or three months ago I was pretty encouraged. It sounded like it was maybe gonna happen and then the last month or I kind of had the feeling they maybe weren't gonna be able to come to terms. It's not a huge surprise, but I guess still a surprise because we've been together so long. I think hopefully when fans think of me they think of DeWalt and vice versa, so we've been together for a long time and it's gonna be weird to not be in a yellow and black car with DeWalt on the side."
DOES THIS PUT MORE PRESSURE ON YOU NOW TO ATTRACT A NEW SPONSOR? "I can't say, honestly, that I've ever tried not as hard for any certain event. We try as hard as we can try every week and we bring our best stuff every week. Pressure isn't the right word, but there's added concern. When the whole economy is like this and you see a lot of different sponsors, at least from what I've seen, not be in the sport anymore and not be around, so whenever you lose a sponsor from the sport -- from what I hear they're not going to a different team or something like that -- that always concerns me, whether that's on our team or somebody else's team. But you're only as good as your last race and we sucked our last race, so we've got to go here and try to get a good finish and try to run good and perform at the level we know we're capable of doing."
WHERE DOES WINNING A FIFTH SLINGER NATIONALS STACK UP? "In the big scheme of things it's probably not that big of a deal. It is to me personally because there's a sense of pride to be able to win at Slinger. It's a huge short track race and all that stuff, but compared to what we're trying to accomplish over here, it's probably not a big deal in the big scheme of things. But it was a lot of fun. Probably more fun than winning was watching Ross win his limited late model race. That was only his third time there and he had quite the education the first two weeks when he went there, so to be able to come back from that and be able to win was pretty cool to watch. I got to hang out with him for the week and work with him back and forth through the practices. I had a lot of fun doing that and it was a nice break on Tuesday and Wednesday. I had a lot of fun and I kind of needed that."
HOW MANY TIRE TESTS WERE YOU HERE FOR? "All of them, except for one, I believe."
ARE YOU CONFIDENT ABOUT HOW IT WILL BE? "I can't really answer that. I guess we'll all find out here in another day, but I don't know. It was really strange when I came back the last time the track was so rubbered up I've never seen anything like that, even when we flew over it. And when I flew over it this morning it didn't look like that, so if the track does indeed take the rubber like it did the last test and it turns black like it did the last test, I don't foresee any kind of problems at all. But if for some odd reason the track doesn't rubber up, kind of like the issue we had at Daytona where we could only run 20 laps on tires and we had to have a caution. If they wear all the way to the cords and it doesn't rubber the track up, then I'm concerned, but I think they seem pretty confident they've got it figured out where it's gonna rubber it up, which was the one test I wasn't at. Everybody seemed pretty confident and I hope that's the case."
WHAT ABOUT DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS HERE? "I think it'll be a disaster for everybody on the outside. If you're on the inside and you get lucky, I think it'll be OK. We were just talking about Slinger and I know it's a little short track, but it's kind of like that there. I was racing in the front with a guy and happened to be running sixth instead of fifth and 10 laps later he was five spots ahead of me and that's the same thing you're gonna have here. So I think it's gonna kind be unfair for the guys on the outside and a little bit too big of an advantage for the guys on the inside, but that's just part of it. That's just what we're trying to do to get the things mixed up, so, hopefully, we end up on the inside closer to the end of the race."
GEOFF SAID OTHER SPONSORS WERE INTERESTED. WILL THOSE BE FROM INSIDE THE TEAM NOW OR OUTSIDE? "I honestly don't have much of an idea. I've heard of some people they've been talking to, but I think they've been trying to talk to sponsors for quite some time. DeWalt was looking to sell some of the races this year on a part-time basis and knew they needed help next year. Even if they came back we knew it wasn't gonna be a full season and that they were gonna need help and probably need help for half a season or something like that until, hopefully, the business turned back around and that type of thing, so I know we've been looking for some time and they've been talking to a lot of different companies, but I really don't know where they're at with any of it."
SO YOU WOULD EXPECT MORE THAN ONE SPONSOR NEXT YEAR? "I would expect that, but I don't know that for sure. It's not really my department. I drive the car, but if you look at it I don't know that there's a car in the series, besides Kurt Busch is the only one I can think of off hand that runs the same sponsor all year. Even Jeff Gordon with DuPont doesn't run just that scheme anymore. They all have help to make it happen and I think that's sort of the sign of the times. I would be surprised if there was a company that did every race and didn't have some help or split it up, but I don't know I'm just guessing."
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN WHAT YOUR CAR WILL LOOK LIKE AND THAT SORT OF THING? "Yeah, of course. If you had a lot of choice, I don't know that you'll have a lot of choice or not. Right now, it doesn't seem like there are an overabundance of choices out there, but, yeah, of course I would like to be involved in what the car looks like and who the company is that you're working with and that type of thing. A lot of times you don't necessarily have that choice. I don't think there's that many people out there with that much money they're probably looking to spend, but, on the other hand, I'm confident that Geoff Smith and the marketing department will figure it all out and will get it all put together."
SO YOU DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT KIND OF THING? "I'd be lying if I told you I didn't spend a little time worrying about it and thinking about it, but I don't have hardly anything to do with it. The only thing I can really do is try to be the best spokesperson I can be for DeWalt and the companies we work with right now and try to run the best we can run. That's really kind of my part and lately that's been more than I can handle it seems like because we haven't been running that great, so I'm just really trying to concentrate on performance and keeping our stuff running."
WHAT ROLE DOES MOMENTUM PLAY IN THIS SPORT? "There have been times where I've really believed in momentum and then other times I really haven't. We've had times, I can't remember the year -- I think it was '04 -- where we won two races right before the chase -- Michigan and Bristol, I think -- and then I think we went to Richmond afterwards. We won a couple of races and then when we started the chase it just went terrible. I thought we had all the momentum that year. We were rolling off a couple wins. Everything was going good and it just turned around and went the other way on us and we couldn't get it back, so I don't know. I think that each week is a new week. It seems like you go through periods for some reason where it's hard to do things wrong. Even when things go wrong it ends up going right for you, and then there are times you go through the other way around. Even when you're running good, you don't get the finish or something else happens, which seems to me that's kind of the phase we're in right now. But I don't know if you can ever put your finger on it or really feel the momentum or feel the shift or that type of thing."
ALL OF ROUSH FENWAY HAS BEEN STRUGGLING. IS THERE A WAY TO CATCH UP WHEN YOU CAN'T TEST LIKE BEFORE? "Everybody finds a way to work on it, whether it's computers or seven-post machines or tracks that we still can go to or whatever, but we just haven't done as good of a job this year. Last year, we had a couple of things that seemed like they were an advantage right away until other people caught onto it. Carl won a bunch of races right away with the rear-end housing and other stuff, until everybody caught onto that. It's just harder to find that advantage these days and you just have to have every single thing right and it seems like we've got ourselves a little bit behind, but I know they're working hard on the stuff trying to figure it out and hopefully we'll get it better."
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ISSUES RIGHT NOW? "I don't know. It's basically set-up stuff. It's basically that. I guess you could have some structural differences in a car a little bit, but the aero on the cars are almost all identical with this car and there aren't as many variables as there was with the other car. All of the bodies are basically the same. All the engine stuff is close enough where that's not gonna be the difference, really, in my opinion, between running first or second or eighth and 10th. So it's mostly set-up stuff -- bump stops and springs and maybe front geometry and maybe some structural stuff with the front snout that you can still work on, but, other than that, there's not as many variables as there used to be. You've got those five or six areas and that's what you've got to work on."
DOES THAT MAKE IT HARDER TO CATCH UP? "It just seems like they are a lot more technical than they used to be. You used to be able to make bigger changes to your car and try stuff, whereas this stuff just seems like it's a lot more technical. To me, it seems like it's really hard to get it just right and it's really easy to get it off. For us, anyway, when we get it off, it's really hard to fix it. When we're really close, we can make small adjustments and we can feel it and we can make the stuff run a little better or a little worse, but when we're a big chunk off -- for us anyway -- it's just really, really hard to find it. We unloaded the first lap at Chicago really far off and we put it back in the trailer driving just as bad as it did when we unloaded it and we threw everything we could think of at it, so I don't know why that is but it seems to be that way."
-credit: ford racing