Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Affliction Clothing Ford Fusion, met with media members outside his hauler prior to the first Cup practice session Friday at Pocono Raceway.
WHAT WILL BE THE DIFFERENCE THIS RACE NOW THAT YOU CAN SHIFT? “I don’t really know but I think it will be a little bit better. I think it will be more forgiving if you get in traffic or if you miss the corner or whatever you will be able to down shift and have a little power to get back up out of there. I am looking forward to it.”
DID YOU LIKE SHIFTING WHEN IT WAS HERE BEFORE OR THE WAY IT WAS THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? “It is easier not to shift but I like shifting because it adds another element to the race. I think it probably makes more passing and you have to be a little easier and careful on equipment. I think it gives you more of a possibility of things breaking. It puts it more in the drivers hands and I like that.”
YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE SUCCESS YOU’VE WANTED AT THIS TRACK, WHAT HAS TO CHANGE THIS YEAR FOR YOU GUYS TO FIND VICTORY LANE? “Yeah, it hasn’t been the best track for me but I am really looking forward to it this time. I think our cars are the best they have been in a long time and our engines are running better than they probably ever have been. I am looking forward to getting on the track. You need everything to go right, like any track, but I need to do a better job of giving my guys the feedback so they can give me what I need which is the car going fast.”
DO YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES THIS WEEKEND? “I feel good about it. Our team has done a superb job this year and we have had really fast cars at almost all the tracks that we have gone to. We don’t have quite all the finishes we would like but we do have a couple of wins and have been in contention a lot more than we had the last couple of years. It has been a lot of fun to go to the track this year.”
FUEL MANAGEMENT HAS BEEN AN ISSUE THE LAST COUPLE OF RACES. WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DOES IT HAVE AT THIS TRACK? “It depends on when the cautions come out. That is what it is all dictated by. IF you have a caution come out and everybody is a little short and some can make it and some can’t, that is when it comes in play. If there is a caution with 25 to go and everyone can make it then it doesn’t matter. With the longer green flag runs it is something you think about more than last year at this time with all the cautions toward the end and green-white-checkers is tough. Last weekend you had to start thinking about two pit stops from the end, not one pit stop from the end. It has definitely been more of a factor this year.”
THERE HAVE BEEN SOME HIGH PROFILE ON AND OFF TRACK INCIDENTS THIS YEAR. IS THAT GOOD OR DO WE NEED TO GO BACK TO A KINDER, GENTLER NASCAR? “I don’t know. I like watching it as long as I am not involved in it. I never like being involved in that stuff, but it is a lot of fun to watch it.”
JEFF GORDON WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT HOW SOME GUYS WOULD PLAY AROUND WITH SHIFTING HERE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. DID YOU EVER TRY IT AND TAKE A CHANCE AT HOW IT WOULD WORK? “Yeah, but the ratios were so far off that you were taking a chance at breaking something. A lot of people toward the end, like the last 10-laps, I would start shifting in a few spots and passing some cars. When you are underneath and shifting and the guys I race on the last 10-laps, everybody was shifting in turn one and turn three just because everybody else was and you could gain a couple car lengths off the corner. They needed to either open it up and let us shift again or change that third gear ratio to make it so big it was impossible to shift. I think this will be alright.”
Probably just managing everything.
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE A NOTICEABLE IMPACT ON THE TYPE OF RACE WE SEE ON SUNDAY? “You know, hypothetically, I think it should create more passing. If you get in a two or three-wide situation and get and get bogged down you have another gear there to get your rolling a little better. I don’t know if it will make a big difference but it will be a fair amount different from the drivers seat. Without shifting it is a lot easier and you have less things to do and less things that can go wrong. I am looking forward to doing it again and I think it will add another element to the race.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN NEXT WEEKEND? “Michigan is a two-mile track so everyone thinks about horsepower but it has a ton of corner so really you need to handle really well, that is the first key to being successful there. Of course you have to have a good motor. Lately there have been a lot of fuel mileage races and that is one of those tracks where you have to look at everything.”
IF YOU COULD ONLY CHOOSE ONE BETWEEN HORSEPOWER AND AERODYNAMICS THERE AT MICHIGAN, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU TAKE? “That is an easy answer these days. You go for the engine because everybody is in the same box and very close with the aero on these new cars.”
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST ASPECT OF 400 MILES AT MICHIGAN? “That is a great question. Probably just managing everything. There have been times we have had really fast cars but it comes down to fuel mileage at the end. Probably handling the way you need to and having the track position and making sure you have the right fuel mileage to get it done or the right strategy at the end to have a shot.”
-source: ford racing