MATT KENSETH - No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion ABOUT THIS RACE AND IT'S PLACE IN NASCAR? "I think if you just look at NASCAR history books, they haven't run here that long so, obviously, Darlington and Daytona certainly trump that as far as...
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion
ABOUT THIS RACE AND IT'S PLACE IN NASCAR? "I think if you just look at NASCAR history books, they haven't run here that long so, obviously, Darlington and Daytona certainly trump that as far as NASCAR history. But, certainly, this is one of the most historic race tracks there is probably in the world. There's a lot of history here with the Indy 500 and running those cars, so it's neat for me to be able to come to these tracks and be able to participate because they never had stock cars on it until whenever they came here in the early nineties, so it's pretty special to be able to compete here. But you also realize, at the same time, it's not really home. It's not like going to Daytona, where NASCAR racing started and was founded. You realize that this is somebody else's home and they're nice enough to let you come and visit."
WHY DOES IT SEEM YOU CAN'T SNEAK IN A WIN HERE AT INDY? IT SEEMS DRIVERS WHO WIN HERE WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. "I don't know if part of that is coincidence or just that those guys who win championships are really good. I don't know, but it is a difficult race track. You have to do everything right. Track position is really important. You have to obviously have a fast car and a fast pit crew and it's a very unique track. There's not really another one like it, so I don't know why the reason is that some people haven't been able to sneak in wins. Although, through the years, I've seen a couple that have been won by pit strategy or staying out or that type of thing, but it does seem like the good cars still figure out how to get to the front here and win."
WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE FR9 ENGINE AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET IT FIGURED OUT? "I think they're trying to improve it all the time. They took a long time to get it implemented getting parts and doing all the research and development, and trying to make sure they get it right when it gets rolled out on the track, so we're excited to have the new stuff. We think it's a little bit better than the old stuff, and I'm sure they're gonna keep improving it."
HAS THE NOVELTY OF THIS RACE WORN OFF? "It's always really exciting for me to come here, but the first time you come here is probably the most exciting by far because of the history with Indy cars and all that stuff. So that's the most excited you ever are and you hate to say it goes down, but you get more used to it as you keep coming back. I think it's a great race track. Obviously, it's a challenging race track for any cars to pass, whether it's an Indy car or a stock car. It's a very narrow, fast, challenging race track, but I think it's exciting. If I was a race fan, it would be one of them on my list to just come and see because it's such a historic track. It's so fast and so unique. There's no other race track like it."
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO MAYBE MAKE THIS RACE MORE EXCITING? "It depends on what you want. I've watched the Indy 500 on TV and seen a guy win by a straightaway or have only five cars on the lead lap. That's part of racing. When the fastest car gets in the front, unless things go wrong, hopefully he's gonna win. The way I like watching racing before I even raced is I like to see the fastest car win, so, hopefully, that happens. But I think NASCAR has done a lot of things the last few years to ensure that the finishes are more exciting under most circumstances than what they could be. Very seldom to we have long runs to the end. We always have two-wide restarts, multiple attempts at green-white-checkers. We've got so much stuff going on that I don't know how much more you could really do there."
IS THIS THE TOUGHEST PLACE TO PASS OTHER THAN A ROAD COURSE? "Honestly, I've been here before with some cars that have been really easy to pass. I've had some really fast cars here in the past. We haven't been able to win here, but there have been a couple races where we've been unbelievably fast and I could pass at ease, and then there have been other times like last year where we came out of the pits and I couldn't pass anybody and nobody could pass me. We'd wait until we pitted next time and see where we end up, but there have been times where we've been able to do pretty good."
WHEN DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM WILL GET BACK TO WHERE YOU USED TO BE? "I hope we're gaining on it. I'd say that Michigan was a little bit encouraging and Chicago was really encouraging. I thought as an organization all of our cars ran really good and the Petty cars ran good, so we were probably behind those guys a little bit, but Greg ran pretty competitive. Carl ran great at the end. Kasey ran good again, so that was encouraging, so, hopefully, we can keep going in that direction."
IT TAKES TIME DOESN'T IT TO GET BACK INTO THE TOP 10. "I don't know if you ever feel like you have it every week. Things change. Rules change. Tires change. Track surfaces change. It's a constant moving target, but, certainly I think once you get close and you're a top 10 runner consistently then it's easier at times to hit it right where you've got a chance to win and if you're off a little bit, you can run in the latter half of the top 10. But you've got to get in that group first."
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU KNOWING WHERE NASCAR IS DRAWING THE LINE ON PENALITIES AND HOW DOES THAT COMPARE TO YOUR PERSONAL CODE FOR RACING? "As far as what NASCAR does as far as taking the gloves off or penalties, honestly, that hasn't changed my outlook or how I race. Two good guys to probably talk about that would be Mark Martin and Jeff Burton. I'm not gonna change the way I race because of what the rules are. Now there have been times where I've stepped over the edge and lost my mind and ran into somebody and got penalized for it, and knew I was probably gonna get penalized for it, but whether there's a penalty for something after the race or not, it's not gonna change my code or my ethics, or how I'm gonna race somebody, or how I expect to be raced. I'm still gonna race the same, so that doesn't really matter to me. Whether it's so strict that I'm gonna get in trouble for something after the race, or it's so loose that I wouldn't, it really wouldn't change how I race because you've got to race these people each and every week. It's a long season. I think that if you respect people, most of the time you get that respect back and that's what I'm gonna try to do no matter what the rules are."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE DENNY HAMLIN'S DRIVING STYLE? "Denny's been awesome since he showed up on the circuit. He's been real competitive in that car all the time and, like any team, I'm sure they've gone through highs and lows, but they've been really competitive. He's one of those drivers that most of the time when he wins those races he doesn't make a lot of noise, which is a good thing and a compliment. He's pretty smart. You don't see him do dumb things and take himself out of races or anything like that."
IT'S BEEN AN UPHILL BATTLE SO FAR FOR YOU. DO YOU FEEL THE HILL IS FLATTENING OUT? "I don't know. There are times it feels it's going a little better, and at times it seems like it's not, but we keep working on it. As an organization, it seemed like Chicago was a pretty good weekend for the Petty organization and the Roush organization. They all seemed to run pretty well, so, hopefully, we can continue that."
IS THE NEW ENGINE MAKING A DIFFERENCE? "Honestly, it's hard to tell for me. I think it's probably a little bit better, but we haven't had our cars going through the corner the way they need to, so it's really hard to tell for me if the motor is a little bit better or a little bit worse. It's pretty tough until we get our cars right."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE HERE AT INDY? "Passing. Last year, it was really difficult to pass. Track position was very important. You had to have your car right, for sure, but even if you did have your car right that track position was just unbelievably important."
HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO KISS THE BRICKS ON SUNDAY? "I don't know if kissing the bricks would be that cool, but to win the race would be pretty cool - to be in Victory Lane and have the trophy and do all that stuff. But I've seen a lot of pictures of a lot of people kissing those bricks that I don't want to kiss."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BRAD AND CARL SITUATION? "I don't really have much of an opinion on what's going on with those guys because I don't really know the whole history. I haven't been in the car or in conversations they've had afterwards. I mean, there are probably a lot of things that maybe we haven't seen that we're not thinking of that led to the boiling point. Certainly, if you just look at the incident on Saturday and don't think of anything else, it seemed like it was pretty extreme and over the top, but I think there has probably been a lot that led up to that."
-source: ford racing