Las Vegas: Matt Kenseth interview

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus, is coming off the second victory of his NASCAR Winston Cup career after winning last weekend's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Kenseth was a winner again on Thursday as he took...

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Taurus, is coming off the second victory of his NASCAR Winston Cup career after winning last weekend's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Kenseth was a winner again on Thursday as he took first-place honors in the Winston No Bull Five Blackjack Tournament. Kenseth spoke about going for the million dollar bonus as well as the aftermath surrounding his win at Rockingham.

MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS NO BULL FIVE BONUS? "The No Bull Five is always a cool deal to be part of and this is the second time I've had a chance to be involved. It's really neat to give a fan a chance to win a million dollars. Winston does a lot of things for this sport and it's great to see."

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE SPORT WITH THIS KIND OF MONEY BEING INVOLVED? "it's just amazing how much it keeps growing all the time. For them to put up an extra million dollars for us to win a race and then an extra million for a fan that supports their product, that's pretty big for a sponsor to be able to do that kind of thing."

DO YOU APPROACH THIS RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY? "It's pretty much the same as any other race. There's a little more on the line if you can win, but we try equally hard to win every race we enter. We did some testing here and felt like we ran pretty good, so we'll just have to see what we can do."

YOU'VE GOT SOME MOMENTUM TOO. "We do. We've pretty lucky the last week and a half. We've been pretty lucky out here in Vegas so far and we ran real good at Rockingham and we were in the right place at the right time for once, so I feel good about what we did last week. Hopefully we can carry some of that into this week."

WHAT'S THE MORALE OF THE TEAM NOW? "Everybody is pumped up. They had great pit stops and it was really a team effort to be able to win that race. They just did a phenomenal job over the wall and everything went right. Whenever you can win one of these races, as hard as they are to win, and with the kind of year we had last year, it's got everybody pretty pumped up right now."

WILL YOU TAKE MORE CHANCES THIS WEEKEND IF YOU'VE GOT A CHANCE TO WIN? "I'd take whatever chances I have to in order to win any of these Winston Cup races. These things are hard to win. I've only been able to win two of them so far and, obviously, you want to do a lot more than that, so whenever you're in a position to win these races you have to do everything you can to try and carry that out. It's tough just to get in that position to have a chacne to win, so if you have that chance, you better take it."

DID THE POST-RACE INSPECTION AND FINE TAKE AWAY FROM THE WIN LAST WEEK? "Yes and no. It bothers me probably more than anything. Dale, Jr. won Talladega last year and got the same fine and, if I remember correctly, I think last year's spring race winner at Rockingham got the same fine at the same race for the same thing, so it's one of those areas where there's a minimum height before the race and after the race when the car is settling and the springs are hot and tires are worn out, the car was gonna be a little bit lower, so I guess we've just got to start compensating for that. There also was a dent in the roof, so in my head I know it wasn't anything performance related, so it's a little bit upsetting. I'm sure some of the general public will probably look at it and say, 'Yeah, he won it but he cheated.' But it wasn't really anything performance related, so I feel good about everything we did last week."

WILL WE SEE MORE OF THIS AS THE YEAR GOES ON WITH CARS BEING LOWER POST RACE? "I hope not. I think NASCAR is probably looking into a way to avoid this. I think they want this probably as much as we want this, so I think they're trying to look into a way. Maybe we've got to start our cars high before the race and there's a tolerance or something we have to be within after the race or something like that. In our case, we're gonna just make sure we start the car a good quarter-inch high. It's not anything that will help your performance, especially at a track like Rockingham. You can move the roof around probably an inch and it probably wouldn't make any difference there. It's just one of those silly things.

"There was a dent in the roof and after the race the cars are soft and the springs are soft, so they're gonna lost a little bit of rate. The tires are worn out, so it's gonna lose a little bit of height so when you're talking 3/16ths-of an-inch on a 51-inch rule, that's not very much leeway."

AT DAYTONA THERE WAS SO MUCH TALK ABOUT A QUARTER-INCH, BUT YOU'RE SAYING A QUARTER-INCH ON THE ROOF DOESN'T MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE? "It would make you slower at Rockingham because you'd have less downforce. To lower the car is not really going to necessarily help you there. At Daytona and Talladega, I agree that you have to be really strict with the rules. If you get down an eighth-of-an-inch or a quarter-inch there, it's gonna help you a lot especially when we used to have the spoilers on the roof. When you get the car down out of there, there's a lot of speed, but at a track like Rockingham it doesn't make any difference. I guess we've just got to make sure our cars start too high and give up a little bit to make sure that everybody passes at the end of the race. It's tough to run 400 miles through big bumps with soft springs when you're bottoming out and all of those other things and try to be within an eighth-of-an-inch after the race. That's pretty tough."

DID YOU FEEL THE PENALTY FIT THE CRIME? "No, I didn't. I still don't understand it. I guess I have to go to the trailer (Friday) when I get to the track and try to understand it a little bit better. I guess for the fine to be more than it was at Talladega for the same problem, to me, doesn't make any sense. Aerodynamics at Rockingham mean very little and we had a big dent in the roof, so there's probably something I'm not getting out of it and I don't understand. I think NASCAR is probably trying to put their foot down and say 'there's no tolerance on this rule, this is what it is and you have to meet it,' but it's really hard to have the exact same measurement before and after the race. I guess we're just gonna have to start the cars up high or something like that."

DO YOU FEEL MORE HESITANT TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE NOW? "First of all, I don't have anything to do with preparing the cars anymore and, really, I didn't think we were pushing the envelope to tell you the truth. The money is not really important, winning races is important. But it puts a damper on my spirits after the win because a lot of the general public that probably doesn't necessarily understand all these rules, maybe they think you cheated to win where, in fact, it had probably no bearing at all in the performance. After the race things just settled a little bit, plus we had a dent in the roof from victory lane. If you watch the tape, there was no dents in the roof when I was doing my victory lap, so, obviously, it wasn't there before the race or during the race or after the race. It happened some time in victory lane, either when I leaned on the roof to give my guys five to celebrate or to put the products on the roof of our sponsor or whatever it got down a little bit. They already don't want you climbing up on the roof, so I guess we'll just have to be more careful when we celebrate and have to be more careful where we place sponsor products and things like that to make sure that there isn't any damage at all."

ROUSH HAS WON THREE OF THE FOUR RACES HERE AT LAS VEGAS, SO THAT SHOULD GIVE YOU SOME CONFIDENCE RIGHT? "We have a lot of confidence. Even before last weekend we had some confidence because we tested really great here with our DEWALT car. We felt like we ran really good. We had a car that ran good for us last year that we tested with and it seemed to perform well, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and see what we have. I think we'll at least be competitive. I don't know if we'll be good enough to have a shot to win the thing or not, but I feel like we had a real competitive car when we tested."

HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR ODDS, YOU'RE 22:1. ARE THEY GOOD? "I think that's alright. That's probably better than they were last week, so 22:1 isn't terrible. I saw my name for the championship was something like 55:1 so that doesn't really bother me. If I was making odds, I wouldn't give myself any better odds than that either based on how we performed last year. I'm just happy we were able to come out of the box and win a race and be up for this million dollars this week. A lot of exciting things have happened the last two weeks."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth