MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 1st) "We had a great run all day. We had a real good car. There are a couple of silly things that happened. I was supposed to pit and I stayed out when Dale, Jr. stayed out. That ended up...
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus (Finished 1st)
"We had a great run all day. We had a real good car. There are a couple of silly things that happened. I was supposed to pit and I stayed out when Dale, Jr. stayed out. That ended up in our favor and got us some track position, and then my pit crew just had a great stop and got us out front on our last pit stop. They just did a good job to get us where we needed to be, so we had a real good handling car all day. It was real tough to come from behind, but once we got out front we could show how strong our car really was."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
SIX CUP RACES HERE AND YOU'VE WON FOUR OF THEM WITH THREE DIFFERENT DRIVERS. "We missed one yesterday. We'll have a meeting about that Tuesday (laughing). The guys are really good at adapting to new race tracks. This is a race track we've only been able to come to once a year, so I think most drivers don't have a good book on what the race track requires. I think our guys are a little better than average on the new situation, plus I figured when we got here this time that everybody would have good enough information. With the new Chevrolet and the new Pontiac, I figured it would be month of Sundays before we won another race here, but, thanks to Matt and Robbie, they did good."
SO MUCH WAS MADE OF THIS BEING THE FIRST REAL TEST FOR THE NEW BODIES AND AERO WORK. WHAT DID YOU SEE? "I don't know is the short answer because NASCAR elected not to take cars to the wind tunnel after Daytona. I'm really interested in what that would look like as we prepare for Talladega and going back there again in the spring. For here, this is the first race track that I'm aware of that the Chevrolets and the Pontiacs had tested at. They had not tested at Rockingham, so the way they ran wasn't an indication of what they were going to do. But it sure looked to me, based on the way the qualified and the way they practiced, that it was going to be a route by the new cars. We've got a 1998 Taurus here that we're racing against these new cars and I thought we wouldn't do well with it, but Robbie and Matt have got just a terrific setup in that car. I think the way the 99 ran is more like I'm afraid we'll see the good Fords run in the near term on short tracks."
YOU STAYED OUT WHEN OTHERS PITTED AND STAYED OUT FRONT. WAS THAT THE KEY TO WINNING? "Yeah, but it was sort of an accident. It was kind of like one of those things when some days you wake up and everything goes wrong and some days you wake up and everything goes right even by accident. It was kind of like everything went right even by accident. Robbie told me to pit, but he said, 'If the leaders pit, pit.' Well, we were running fourth and the leader stayed out while second and third pitted, so I just stayed out and everybody behind me pitted. At that time, it didn't look good because if we would have pitted there and it would have went green to the end, we could have made it on one stop. But by staying out, we would have had to stop twice, so it was kind of an accident on my part but it definitely turned out for the better. There were probably 10 cars that pitted the caution before that and they stayed out with us, so if we would have pitted, we would have been buried back in 12th and would have had a much harder time getting back to the front. So that 30 lap run, or whatever it was, and then a caution again to get back on sequence was definitely the key to staying up there."
YOU HAD AN UP-AND-DOWN WEEKEND. BIFFLE WENT HOME AND MATT WON THE RACE. "If I wasn't already schizophrenic, this would do it. Under the best scenario, we've only got the prospect of having one winner. As it stands, we're gonna have lots of losers. Greg was not able to qualify based on his time and lack of points from last year, and we had a great Busch effort yesterday with Stanton Barrett, who finished well. But Jeff Burton was the heat. Of course, we had a fire. I'm sure the pictures of that will be used for some time, but, yeah, it's been an up-and-down weekend. Fortunately, I'm gonna have to fly home tonight most of the night, so I won't have to worry about sleeping, but I'm sure I won't be able to sleep."
HOW HARD IS IT TO FIND A RHYTHM WITH A LONG GREEN FLAG RUN AND THEN A LOT OF CAUTIONS AND THEN ANOTHER LONG GREEN FLAG RUN? "It's more difficult on the short runs than it is the long runs. On the long runs, it's easy to find your rhythm because you have the whole track to yourself. On a long run the cars get separated, so it's a lot easier to find where you car wants to be in the corner and where it feels good. You have the whole track to yourself to make a mistake or to drive it a little different or to move around. The short runs are very difficult, especially if you're lined up a little ways back with the lapped cars on the inside. The restarts are two and three-wide a lot of times and maybe even four-wide a couple times and it gets fairly interesting. To make our car run good on a long run, we had to be very loose on new tires, so to be real loose and then be on restarts with cars all around you, it makes the car that much more unstable. The restarts are the hardest part to get going, but once you get rolling again and the cars get separated again, it's easy to find a rhythm."
YOU HAD SUCH A BIG LEAD, DID YOU WANT TO CHANGE ANYTHING? "I try to do everything the same. It's a funny thing. I have a bad habit as a race car driver to drive into the corner too hard. A lot of times that will make you go slower because you'll just get in there too hard and you don't get off the corner as good, so, a lot of times, I'll slow down when we're in the lead and I'll start letting off two car lengths earlier and I'll run faster lap times. I just try to do everything basically the same as what we do. I try not to change anything. Obviously, I don't drive as hard as if I had somebody two car lengths behind me, but I still try to keep a pretty good pace and keep hitting my marks because you never know when there's gonna be a caution or something is gonna change. You still want to be able to keep your car going at least 90 percent so you know what it's gonna feel like if you have to race somebody at the end."
DALE, JR. THOUGHT YOUR CAR WAS BETTER THAN HIS EVEN WHEN YOU WERE BEHIND HIM. "I was running hard to try to catch the leader, just like you would anytime, but at times we would be better and we'd run a little quicker lap times; at times we'd break even; at times we'd be just a tick slower. I felt like at that time we had a little better car on a long run. If we could run from a full tank of gas to an empty tank of gas, I felt like we had as good a car as anybody out there. Some of those guys on new tires could run a little faster than us, but they'd lose more than that at the end of the run. So I felt good about our car on the long run."
TALK ABOUT THE APPROACH FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. "It's just unbelievable. I can't believe the year we had last year and the start to this year we've had. It's just a huge confidence boost for our team. As everybody knows, we had a little turnover in people. We've got a couple new tire changers and a new tire carrier out there, so the confidence for those guys is big. Last week they were down on themselves because we didn't quite have the pit stop we wished we would have had at the end and it possibly could have taken us out of contention. This week they won the race for me. If they wouldn't have gotten me out in front of the 8 car and got that great pit stop on the last stop, who knows? Something might have happened and we might not have won. So it's a huge confidence builder for those guys.
"One of the guys that goes over the wall changing tires has never changed tires in any division over the wall in his life. He's carried tires, but he's never changed tires. So to do that and today to do it on a championship level and throw those people together is just a huge testament to how hard all our guys work and how organized Robbie and Jack and everybody at Roush Racing has our team. The will and desire for those guys to win and how hard they work makes me so proud of my team. I don't know how to explain it."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON KYLE BUSCH GOING TO HENDRICK? "Half the people, as I look in the room, are approaching my age and we've all raised kids. He's 17 years old and he's not nearly done yet, so there are a lot of broken cars and broken hearts and emotions that will run wild before he'll mature into a race car driver that can realize his potential and satisfy all the folks around him for their investments. I'm not totally unhappy about missing that."
DO YOU FEEL ANY DEJÀ VU LIKE WHEN GORDON LEFT FORD TO GO TO CHEVROLET? "I don't know that this ought to be right now about Ford or Kyle, but, no, I didn't have any emotions like that. I suspect that had we felt strongly about wanting to keep him that there was an opportunity for a negotiation there and that we could run the dollars up and maybe stopped that. But we've got a full complement of great drivers with great futures and I just really work hard with all the folks that are committed to us, that want to be here to make their careers as successful as they can be and it was not clear that Kyle wanted to be here going down the road."