Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, enters the first Chase race of 2010 in 11th position and starts at a track where he has earned five top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes in his career. Kenseth has yet to win a race...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, enters the first Chase race of 2010 in 11th position and starts at a track where he has earned five top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes in his career. Kenseth has yet to win a race at NHMS, but does own a runner-up finish that came in 2004 and has led 88 laps here in his career. Kenseth talked about NHMS and the Chase.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY'S RACE? "Well I will probably have a little better idea after tomorrow's practice. I thought we had a pretty good day today in our race trim. We seem to be a little faster than we have been in here. Our car seems a little better than it was last time. It was more like what we had last weekend. I feel good about it. We are all in the same spot right now. We have to see how qualifying goes and go from there."
IS THERE A TRACK IN THE CHASE THAT PARTICULARLY CONCERNS YOU? "All of them really. We haven't had particularly great results here at this track lately. This one is probably front of my mind right now. I think you have to perform well every week and certainly Talladega is probably the biggest wild card race, but this one is on the front of my mind right now. Hopefully we can get through here with a decent finish and then we will have confidence going into Dover, more than the rest of the race tracks. You still have to get it done every week."
YOU HAVE A NEW CHASIS FOR THIS RACE, IS THAT NORMAL AND DID YOU ALWAYS DO THAT IN YOUR OTHER TIMES HERE FOR THE CHASE? "No, I am not worried about it. I don't recall if we ever had a brand new car here before or not. Since Jimmy has been here he has tried to build the cars the way he wanted to do it and make them better. Last week was our first week with one of those new cars. It seemed to be better, even though we didn't get the finish we were hoping for. We performed at times in Richmond much better than we have actually since they went to the COT car. There is one time we drove up into the top-five which is better than we have been. We feel they are better cars and we have four of them built that we will rotate throughout the Chase to use the final 10 weeks. We feel like they are a lot better than what we had a couple months ago and we are trying to bring our best stuff."
WERE THESE CARS MADE JUST FOR THE CHASE? "It is just the timing of it with Jimmy coming on kind of late. I think that if he would have been there in November, I don't know. We probably still would have had newer cars about this time of year because you are always trying to evolve and make things better. We have made small changes and we think we have made things better to get our better stuff when it counts."
WHY ARE YOU NOT WORRIED ABOUT IT? "If you look at our last season and a half it isn't like we have won a race and have a few cars that we really run exceptional with. If that was the case, which we used to have some cars like that back in the day that we were real comfortable with and real fast, if we had cars like that we would maybe rethink that a little bit. We really don't have even one cars that we like really a lot better than others. Jimmy has worked really hard on these new cars the last couple of months. Getting them in the wind tunnel and making them lighter and stronger. We really feel like even though they haven't been on the race track , these are the best pieces we have in our shop."
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO HAVING TEAMMATES IN THE CHASE FIELD AND ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES? AND IS THIS THE MOST COMPETIVE CHASE FIELD? "For me, having three teammates, I don't think it really matters whether they are in the Chase or not. I think that we work together exactly the same. Being a teammate isn't really necessarily about Sunday. It is about the rest of the week. It is about today and comparing information and comparing our cars. Talking about how we approach the track and how changes felt. Working together and when we get belted in on Sunday, it is every man for himself. It is one against 42 at that point. Certainly you realize who your teammates are out there and you try not to do something dumb around them, but you race them how you race everybody else. You try to beat those guys. You are racing those guys for position and points. We share the same amount of information and put in the same effort to helping whether we are all in the Chase or just one of us. As far as the Chase field, that is hard to say. I think we will have a better idea in a few weeks. It is a talented field with a lot of great teams. Each year with the rule changes I think the field keeps getting more competitive and closer to the same speed each season."
IF SOMEONE WINS AND DOMINATES THE DAY SUNDAY, DOES IT THROW THE REST OF YOU INTO PANIC THAT SOMEONE IS DOMINANT THE FIRST TIME OUT OF THE CHUTE? "No. Ten races is a lot of racing. The championship isn't going to be won or lost here at New Hampshire. If your performance is good enough to be a legitimate contender throughout 10 weeks then one race isn't going to make or break you. I don't think anybody want to be behind. All 12 guys want to be leading the points when they leave here obviously, but I don't think one race is enough to panic."
THIS IS YOUR THIRD CREW CHIEF, IS IT A GOOD THING THAT MAYBE YOU ARE HITTING YOUR STRIDE WITH JIMMY GOING INTO THE CHASE? HAS IT GELLED AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU GUYS? "I hope so. I have known Jimmy for a long time and we have always gotten along well. We worked together in the Nationwide series and I used to follow him around when he was Mark's (Martin) crew chief. I used to follow him around and bug him and ask Jimmy a million questions. We have known each other for a long time and we get along fine. I think our chemistry is fine. Jimmy is one of those guys that never rests. He is always trying to figure out how to make the cars faster and better. That is one of the things I really like about him. It is never good enough. He is always trying to make the stuff faster."
-source: ford racing