This Week in Ford Racing: Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, knows what it's like to win the Sprint All-Star Race while Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is still trying ...
This Week in Ford Racing:
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, knows what it's like to win the Sprint All-Star Race while Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is still trying after finishing second last season. Both drivers spoke about the event and what it means to them and their respective teams.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
HOW SPECIAL IS IT TO WIN THE ALL-STAR RACE? "It's pretty cool to be able to win that race. There are no points involved and it's a cool race because you really get the team involved. They're involved in all the races, but they get a lot more recognition during the all-star week with the pit stop contest and having to pit for qualifying and all the stuff they put in the format. It's an exciting night. It's really all about the fans and trying to put on a good race, so it's always a pretty intense, exciting race."
WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY AND THE BRAGGING RIGHTS? "Nobody is ever gonna turn the money down. It's cool to get the money when you can get it for the team, but it's really more about trying to win and getting the recognition for the team and getting the trophy and doing all of that is the cool part."
THIS YEAR THEY HAVE ONE MANDATORY STOP IN THE FIRST SEGMENT AND THEN OPTIONAL AFTER THAT. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I like the optional stuff. I kind of like a pit stop with an option of what to do for the last 10 laps. During that break everybody is gonna put four tires on and all that, but I think it mixes up the pack a little more when some people have two and some have none and some have four. That kind of gives you a better chance to pass, but it'll always be exciting."
WILL NO TESTING THERE THIS YEAR BE AN ISSUE? "Not anymore with this car. This car has so many rules and templates that they're all about the same. There's really not much you can do compared to what you used to be able to do a few years back, so that's not really a big deal. I think we tested there four times in the last year-and-a-half with the tire test and all the rest of the stuff we did, so I don't see that being a big deal."
WILL THERE BE MORE PRESSURE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT? "It's the same as any other race, I think. You want to win every race."
WHAT ABOUT THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS ON ALL THE SEGMENTS AND HAVING ONLY GREEN-FLAG LAPS COUNT IN THE FINAL SEGMENT? DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE MORE EXCITING FROM YOUR SEAT? "It can be. There are times where it can work both ways. You could have a pretty fast car and be in a row right behind a slow car and might get stuck, and it could be the other way around, so it mixes things up a little bit. I think it's fun and the fans like it."
HOW DO YOU LIKE SLEEPING IN YOUR OWN BED AND BEING AT HOME? "The two weeks during Charlotte is always kind of fun for everybody. A lot of the wives and families with the team get to come out and watch the pit stop contest and the races, so being close to home and close to the shop is always nice."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PIT CREW COMPETITION? "It's really cool. To be honest with you, I liked the old format. I like how it used to be at Rockingham, where you came and did a real pit stop. You came down pit road and the car slid in there. You had to do your job to get in the stall and stop and take off and the crew guys went out and did a real stop like they would really do on the track. This is a little bit different with having to push a car and do things they wouldn't usually have to do. I would rather have it the other way, but anytime you can do that and put the spotlight on the crew guys is great."
DO YOU LIKE HOW THEY QUALIFY FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE? "Yeah. That's always fun. It's more about the stop and getting on and off pit road than it is about the race track, so that's always a lot of fun. There's always some pressure out there to make sure you do your job getting on and off pit road and the laps on the track to not mess up a good stop."
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PERSONAL MOMENT IN THE ALL-STAR RACE? "I think last year we finished second in the all-star race and felt like we had a chance to win. That probably has been, personally, the best opportunity. I was inside Kasey for the win and just couldn't pull it off. We had a great car and just came up a little bit short, but, for me, that's been my best all-star race."
ANY MEMORY THAT STANDS OUT BEFORE YOU WERE DRIVING? "There have definitely been some wild all-star races. I remember that one where it rained and they started the race and everybody crashed in turn one. I watched that in Loudon, New Hampshire, when I was running the Nationwide Series, so there have been some spectacular all-star races."
DO YOU TALK WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF ABOUT WHICH CAR YOU WANT TO RUN IN THE ALL- STAR RACE AND WHICH ONE IN THE 600? "The cars have become so similar, but we do kind of have favorite cars. The all-star is a good event for us because it really gives us a chance to test almost. It's a non-points event, so we can try a few things in the all-star practice and then in the race we can try something a little out of the box. So that really turns out to be a test for us and that's really good, but I leave the car choice up to them a lot of times, unless I have a real favorite car and, if I do, I'm gonna keep it for the 600."
DOES A LACK OF TESTING PUT MORE PRESSURE ON THE DRIVER? "It does. A lack of testing has put pressure on the driver all season because we have to execute very quickly. We have two hours of practice, like at Phoenix or Charlotte or Richmond, we have to get the car right in that two hours or that's it - we're racing that. So it's put a lot of pressure on us, a lot of pressure on the engineering and simulation guys to try and get the car as good as they can showing up."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TEAM GUYS GETTING RECOGNITION DURING THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE? "That's really good for them. I'm so glad that they do that event and it really spotlights these guys because more and more the race is on pit road with these cars, and track position, so it's exciting to see them. They can win and lose the race very easily on pit road. A lot of times we see that because you look at the last five races, a lot of it has been pit road."
WHAT'S IT LIKE SLEEPING IN YOUR OWN BED AND RACING FOR TWO WEEKS? "It feels good, especially for the teams. We get to sleep in our own bed probably a little bit more than some of the race team guys just because we get home a little quicker sometimes, but I like it for the race team and all the guys. They get to stay at home with their families and they don't get to spend a lot of time with them, so that's really good for us and the whole sport to get a couple weeks at home."
-credit: ford racing