Kenseth Makes it Two Straight For Ford * Matt Kenseth posted the ninth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory of his career and second straight after winning at Rockingham two weeks ago. * Kenseth becomes the first Ford driver to post ...
Kenseth Makes it Two Straight For Ford
* Matt Kenseth posted the ninth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory of his career and second straight after winning at Rockingham two weeks ago.
* Kenseth becomes the first Ford driver to post consecutive wins since Kurt Busch in 2002 when he won at Martinsville (Oct. 20, Old Dominion 500) and Atlanta (Oct. 27, NAPA 500). Overall, he's the first to win back-to-back events since Jeff Gordon won at Martinsville and Atlanta last October.
* Kenseth is now tied with Richard Petty for 17th-place on the all-time Ford win list with nine. Petty won all nine of his races in 1969 in a Ford.
* The win was Ford's 546th all-time victory in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, which is the most among manufacturers.
MATT KENSETH, No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus
"It's great to come to Vegas. You don't always leave here a winner, so it's fun to come here and leave a winner. We had a great car all day. Obviously, we started in the middle of the pack and made our way to the front pretty quick. The car handled really great. We had a really awesome engine. We got behind one time and was able to make it back up, so we just really had a dominant car. It was a lot of fun to drive. It was as good as the car we had at Rockingham the other week and it feels good to come out of the box this strong."
LAST YEAR YOU GOT CRITICIZED FOR NOT WINNING ENOUGH AND NOW YOU'LL GET CRITICIZED FOR WINNING ALL OF THEM.
"I learned something. I'm gonna go home and watch the TV shows and see what some of the people said, but no matter what I learned it's always something. We ran the race at Rockingham and it would be hard for anybody to argue that we didn't have the dominant car and all you saw in the headlines was that the caution didn't fall right. We weren't on the lead lap and we shouldn't have won and this and that. It's always something, but I'd rather have them talking about us because we're doing so good than the other way around I guess."
HOW HARD DID YOU HAVE TO WORK AFTER THE ROUGH PIT STOP?
"We had a great car. It's really weird. At Rockingham and here we've had cars really, really fast on short runs. We've never had cars like that in my career. Usually we're better on long runs. Today, we had a car that was unbelievably fast on short runs and it was still as fast as anybody on the end of a long run, so that was really weird. On new tires I knew I had to get it done right away. The car would stick so good the first 10 laps on tires that I could really make the moves and get around there. I could run just about as fast as I could in qualifying, so I still need to learn the qualifying thing."
WAS IT HARD TO STAY PATIENT WHEN YOU WERE RUNNING 7TH?
"That's something I had to remind myself of somewhat. We've only run two open races, but with the shorter spoilers we have less drag and our engines run a fair amount better than they did last year. The tires are softer and wear out faster, so you're going faster at the end of the straightaway and it's really hard. You used to be able to drive way in there with the tire that you couldn't hurt and a big spoiler and it's hard to get yourself to lift early enough so you don't abuse your tires and not drive in too hard. So that was something. I drove really, really hard until I got into the third (place) and then I drove really hard until I got to Tony. As soon as I passed Tony, my car was getting tight just even from being behind somebody a little bit. I was worried about hurting the right-front and I ran hard for three or four laps to catch Kevin and then I could see Kevin was starting to struggle a little bit and his car was starting to slide a lot more. Then I just slowed down and tried to save my tires as much as I could because we still had 35 or 40 laps."
WHAT IS THE SECRET FOR ROUSH HERE?
"First and foremost, if there was one I wouldn't tell you (laughing). Setups and rules and tires and aerodynamics and bodies change so much that there's not four springs, four shocks and swaybar that we bring back here and run every time. I think Jack has had all of his success here because Mark Martin could adapt to new tracks really good. When he first came here he won right away. Jeff Burton can get through the corners really fast and is good at setting his cars up at places like this and won a couple of races right away. I just think over the winter - we've got good teams at Roush that have been really prepared and have come out of the box pretty strong. I don't think there's one thing that Jack knows that makes his cars all win here. I just think it's a combination of the teams and all the people he has in place and how hard they work and how good they're prepared throughout the winter to go out and do this."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus
"As usual I'd like to comment on something that I really don't know much about, I guess because I didn't hear the question. But I heard Matt's answer and I glean from it that it's a query as to why we've been successful here. Mark Martin is a pillar of Roush Racing. He's helped me build this thing. He brought to my attention that there was a young driver out there by the name of Matt Kenseth that thought very much like Mark. Mark is doctor superior at high-banked - realizing this is not real high-banked - but fast race tracks, race tracks that you can use a lot of grip, get on the gas early and go looking for the bottom of the race track. Mark has a real good sense for that and he saw in Matt much of the same modems and much of the same interest that he had in his race tracks. Matt is more like Mark than he even recognizes in terms of the way he faces the problems of a race track. They'll be very good at similar tracks because they have such a similar outlook."
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR AS FAR AS WINNING?
"I think if you really look at the numbers from last year and look forward as a group, we started off fairly strong last year. Not trying to make excuses, but throughout the year none of us as a group ran as good as we did in the beginning of the year and the end of '02. I think we just got a little bit behind aerodynamically and maybe on our cars a little bit, too. Over the winter it would have been easy to sit back and say we had a good year last year, we ran good and won the championship and we're not gonna change anything. But Robbie and everybody in the shop, I'm so proud of those guys because they cut everything apart. I was so busy this winter I was gone one time for about five days and when I came back to the shop he had the body cut off of every single race car I had. I flipped out. I was like, 'Those were a couple of our good cars I thought we were just gonna fix for the new rules.' So he really worked hard to get these cars balanced for this new aerodynamic package and figure out what we need to go run good. This car here that we won with today was my old favorite car that we won with last time. This car was together two months ago and it went to the tunnel and he hated it, so he cut the whole body off just because it wasn't what he wanted. We looked at it and it wasn't what we thought was gonna be the best and we cut the entire body off after it was already built and ready to go and primered and everything. We put a whole new body on it and did it again and sent it back to the wind tunnel and made it better, so those are the kind of things that lead you laps and win you races - preparation and hard work and research and dedication. Our pit crew is together for the second year and they've been doing a great job. Right now we've got really good stuff and our communication is really good. So far for these two weeks we've been able to figure out what we need to do to our cars to make them go fast."
DO YOU REVISE YOUR GOALS NOW AND THINK YOU CAN WIN A LOT OF RACES THIS YEAR?
"I can't say I'm not a goal-setter, but I'm not a number setter really. My goal is to do the best job that we can and to go out and be competitive and put ourselves in position to win races. So many things can go wrong or go right in 400 and 500 mile races. So many pieces and parts moving inside the car, debris on the track, flat tires, me making mistakes - whatever. You just never know, but I will say that this winter is the most optimistic and the most excited I've ever been about a racing season. Jack and I talked about that, and Robbie, in New York about how this was gonna be the year that we really got the tools to go out and do great things as a group at Roush Racing. That's how I felt in the winter and that's how I still feel today. I feel like we've just got awesome equipment - the best stuff I've sat in in my life and I think we've got a lot of great opportunities this year."