Indianapolis: Kenseth, McMurray press conference, part I

Brickyard 400 press conference Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 Part 1 of 2. Q: (Inaudible) Matt Kenseth: We're out here to try to win races. We did everything we could to try to win the race, and we came up a little ...

Brickyard 400 press conference
Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003

Part 1 of 2.

Q: (Inaudible)

Matt Kenseth: We're out here to try to win races. We did everything we could to try to win the race, and we came up a little bit short. If it would have went green, I think Robby definitely had the strategy to win, and I think we would have been in good shape. When we put tires on our car, it was really, really fast in traffic, and we worked on that really hard yesterday. I thought we had a good car; it just seemed like we had to come from behind an awful lot today, but coming out of here finishing second, is a great effort. I would have loved to have a little more time to catch Kevin, because I know we had a little better tires than he did, but he got away to such a big lead when we were jockeying around with the 31 car trying to get around.

Q: (Inaudible)

Kenseth: Well, he (Robby Gordon) blocked Jamie really bad, but I don't think it had anything to do with his teammate being in the lead, I think he would have done the same thing no matter who was leading to try to finish second at Indy. So I think he was doing everything he could to protect his position, and we were doing everything we could to try to take it. So he didn't do anything dirty or overstepping his bounds or anything like that. You just knew it was going to be tough to get around him with 10 to go as it would be with anybody.

Q: At the restart where you and Jamie fell back, what happened there?

Kenseth: You have to be more specific. I don't know, where we fell back?

Q: (Inaudible).

Kenseth: Yeah, we didn't really fall back. I think the second-to-the-last start, they restarted -- you know, everybody had old tires, there was a whole bunch of cars on the tail end of the lead lap because we stayed out and they pitted. So they lined up four on the inside, four on the outside. And 77 got a bad start, he went into Turn 1, and his car wouldn't turn and got real high. We all kind of checked up to give everybody a little breathing room, and 31 come blasting through there three wide. We thought there was going to be a wreck, so I had to get out of it and him and the 41 slammed together about three or four times and the 31 just kind of muscled his way in there. So it was a tense moment because everybody was restarting on old tires, and I was trying to take it a little bit easy through there, and the 31 just pounced on it wide open to get whatever he could.

Moderator: I've been handed a piece of paper here. We do have with us Matt Kenseth, who came in second. He is the current Winston Cup points leader. Matt's previous best Brickyard 400 finish was third in 2002. You have seven Winston Cup wins with your most recent being Las Vegas in March of 2003.

Q: Matt, Jamie caught lightning in the bottle last year, he was very much in the hunt today in the lead. He was, I think, in the top five yesterday in both practice sessions. What's your impressions of him?

Kenseth: Who are you talking about?

Q: Jamie McMurray.

Kenseth: Yesterday after all the practices, I knew last night going to bed in the motor home that he was the guy to beat today unless something happened. So looking at everybody's time and looking over the time sheets that the computers keep for all of us, he was by far the fastest car in the final practice yesterday. So he had a great car all day. I was surprised we could even run with him. At the end we had a little better tire to get around him. But he had a great car today, Tony had a great car today, I thought pretty equal to ours. The 42 on even ground with no pit strategy, go out and see who can go the fastest, he definitely, my thought, today had the best car.

Q: Matt, you talked about playing catch-up all day, was there a reason you were behind early on in the day?

Kenseth: Yeah, what really happened, the first run we made, a lot of people pitted early under green and the fuel thing and all the pit strategy things have been so whacky lately that we wanted to make sure we could run to at least Lap 37. If we could do that, we could make it on three stops, the race on three stops in case it went green the whole race. So we were trying really hard to do that. We were still out there when whatever happened on pit road happened. And we ran under caution for a long time running second and thought we were going to run out of gas. So we had to pit when the pits were closed; and because we did that we had to start on the tail end of the lead lap, and that got a lot of us quite a ways behind early.

Moderator: Also joining us in the Trackside Press Conference Room is the third-place finisher, he's also the highest finishing rookie in the race, Jamie McMurray. This is Jamie's first Brickyard 400 start. Won his first Winston Cup race at Charlotte in October of 2002. We'll continue with questions.

Q: Matt, you gained a few points on two and three again today, and Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. keep waiting for you to have a bad day and they keep having worse days than you. Are you beginning to feel sort of in a zone yourself at this point?

Kenseth: I don't really feel in a zone, but I do feel fortunate we made it to the end of all these places. I feel really great coming out of here today second. A lot of people -- I shouldn't say a lot of people, but some people have been saying the last few weeks our finishes haven't been as good as maybe they have been in previous. And we have been finishing 12th and 13th and ninth and seventh and stuff like that. So I was happy to be a front-runner today. I think Jamie had the car to beat all day long. But I felt like we had at least a third-place car all day and ran competitively and called the race in a competitive manner, and I think we drove it as hard as we could drive it. That's how we've been approaching it all year. Just go out and do the best we can. You know, real thankful for the finishes we had, but we've still do have a lot of racing to do, and we've got to keep it up.

Q: Continuing on that a little bit, Matt, in a sport where victory seems to be the end-all, you don't seem to -- the fact that you're not winning, is that a frustration at all or do you get a measure of comfort from the fact that even though you're not winning, you're still padding that lead and you're going down to that million-dollar deal at the end of the year?

Kenseth: Yeah, I mean there's somewhat of a frustration of not winning. I feel like today we did everything we can. Even though we got ahead of Jamie at the end, I don't think we had the car to win today. There's been a few times this year where I felt we had the car to beat, and we didn't get it done and we didn't win the race. So that's part of it. I really want to get back to Victory Lane soon; but on the other hand, I'm very thankful for how we've been running. Only two years ago we couldn't run in the top 20 hardly to save our life in 2001. I'm real thankful for the year we had last year and the year we've been having this year. I've been sitting in competitive equipment each and every week. If we do all the right things with it, we're going to have our opportunities to win races.

Q: Matt, we kind of listened in on your radio a little bit, and it sounded like you were trying to go through all the strategy that was going through, with so many cars it seemed like everybody was on a different strategy of some kind. Could you talk about how difficult that was today maybe more so than other races?

Kenseth: I don't know, I just need to shut up and drive the car probably. (Laughter) The last few weeks have been so frustrating, actually about the last month and a half because the racing has just been so different than what it used to be. It used to be you would come in and run until you need gas, you come and get four tires and go race. Now it's people are stopping under green, and you can't figure out why they're doing it, getting gas to go to the end in case there's a caution. I didn't understand the strategy at all at the end of the race. I was trying to figure out after Jamie pitted, we were leading and like the 12 and all them guys came in and got gas and go to get track position but they're a lap down. So I didn't figure it out, if the caution came out, they were a lap down. But after Jamie pitted, then I was nervous because I knew if the caution came out, he was going to be on the lead lap, I was going to have to pit and he was going to be in front of me. So just trying to figure out all the scenarios, and this track is big enough where you can kind of think about that. So I've been driving Robbie (Reiser) crazy the last month because I've been second-guessing everything he's been doing and making sure we're doing the right thing. It didn't seem like things have been working out the last few weeks, but he had it under control even if it worked out. Even if we got the caution, we still had decent track position. If we didn't get the caution, I think we were in really good shape because we were just going to try to get gas at the end, and we actually were running about the same times as what Jamie was running after he pitted and got the two tires just because we were in front of the whole field. So Robbie knew what he was doing, and he did a great job calling the race.


Part II

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Robby Gordon , Jamie McMurray