Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held separate Q&A sessions after Friday's practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. *** MATT KENSETH -- No. 17...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held separate Q&A sessions after Friday's practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IT MUST FEEL GOOD TO BE BACK IN THE TOP 12. "Yeah. We've still got a lot of work to do, a lot of races left, I think, before the cutoff and we slipped in right now, but we certainly have our goals set a lot higher than where we are."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT? "Honestly, it's been a little bit of everything. It's been improving in every area. If we look at all the problems that we've had this year and sit down and kind of analyze them, we've had a little bit of everything. We've not put together some stuff not right. I've made some mistakes driving. We've just had a little bit of everything happen, so we've been able to try and fine-tune the whole program. I think everybody is working better together right now as a unit. I think we're getting better on pit road. The car is getting prepared better. I think Chip and I have been able to communicate a little bit better and, hopefully, I've been able to give them a little better information to get our cars running better."
HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE HAS IT BEEN SWITCHING FROM ROBBIE? "It hasn't really been a challenge necessarily for Chip and I. I think there are some different parts to his job compared to what he was used to doing has maybe been a little bit of a challenge for him, but our communication and everything has been good. A lot of it has been my fault. This car is a lot different than the other car that we used to have and I needed to try to work harder to understand it and give him better feedback so he could help me get the car to drive the way I wanted it to."
IS 12TH A HURDLE OR IS IT MEANINGLESS AT THIS POINT? "It's not meaningless. I think the points from Daytona all the way to Richmond, every one counts. It's not meaningless, but the cutoff is not today, so we certainly want to keep trying to move our way forward. Certainly we've got goals to try to win races and get in there farther and get up in the points farther and get some cushion on 13th."
WHAT AREAS DO YOU NEED TO WORK ON TO SOLIDIFY YOUR SPOT? "We've got to keep being consistent. We have to keep from making mistakes. We're really close, but we just need to get a little better. I think at Michigan we had a car that performance-wise was capable of winning and that's really the first time since Vegas that we had a car that was a serious contender to win the race. It all starts there. If we can bring cars to the race track that are prepared and are fast enough to go up there and run in the top five and contend for wins, if you don't make mistakes, the rest of it will kind of take care of itself on average."
HAS THIS COMEBACK BEEN ANYMORE TAXING THAN PAST YEARS? "Not yet, but there's so much racing to do. I don't know where we're gonna be a week from now or five weeks from now. There's a lot of time left. Honestly, I wasn't and I'm not really concerned about our points position. I was more concerned with how we were running and how we were operating and me getting in wrecks like we were at Richmond and running in the back. I was more concerned about all of that stuff because if you fix all that stuff, usually you'll get better finishing positions and the points will take care of themselves. So, really, I was more concerned about getting the whole thing rolling and getting everybody's attitudes good and the momentum rolling and getting a spring in everybody's step and get working together like we know we're capable of doing."
WHY DON'T WE SEE DRIVERS WITH TEAMS FOR LONGER THAN 10 YEARS? "I don't know. I can't really speak of anybody's situation except for mine. As far as mine goes, I've always been really happy being at Roush Fenway Racing. Fortunately, they've been happy enough with me to hold onto me. I've had a great group of guys, a great team, our sponsor has been there the whole time. We've been able to keep a lot of that stuff together for the 10 years that we've been there and that's been the biggest difference for me. I don't know as a driver why you would ever want to make a change unless you were 100 percent sure it was gonna be better, or was fairly sure you were gonna better yourself and you were gonna be able to run better. Really, all the years that I've been there, I can't think of a time where I've ever asked Jack for something that we needed to make our race cars run faster, or we needed to make things better at the shop and he hasn't given it to us or given it to me. He always gives us whatever we need to be competitive and, as a driver, that's all I've ever wanted. If they give you everything you need to go run good, what else could you want?" HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO SEE GREG RE-SIGN? "Well, I think it was really good. I think it frees up some space in the paper and websites and stuff because there have been about 15-20 articles written about his contract in the last 14 months, so I'm glad I don't have to read that for a couple more years (joking). But, seriously, Greg is a good friend of mine. I enjoy having him as part of the team. We work really well together. We both like our cars set up similarly, it seems like, so we're always able to talk about things and make our stuff better, and we have a good time racing together."
DO YOU ENJOY RUNNING HERE? "This hasn't necessarily been one of my favorite tracks or I haven't felt like it's one of my strongest tracks, but yet if you look at our stats, our finishes have usually been pretty good. It's always been a challenge. It's a challenge to pass here, although they've made it better over the years after they re-configured the track a while back, so it's just one of those tracks that's a challenge. It's a little bit unique and it's one that makes us work hard, that's for sure."
ANY DIFFERENCE THE FIRST RACE HERE KNOWING YOU COME BACK TO START THE CHASE AT THIS SAME PLACE? "Not really. Where we are in points and what we're doing, we don't do anything different. We bring what we think is our best car every week. We work on it as hard as we can to go run good that day and try to win that day and learn as much as we can, so we don't really do anything different thinking that far ahead."
WHAT ABOUT DAYTONA AT DAY AND NIGHT? "I think it's not really that different. In July, generally the track is really slick -- even at night really because it's usually pretty hot there -- so the 400 from the 500 is not really that big of a change. The cars might be grouped up a little more. The race might have a little more action to it, but, really, how far the tires drop off and how your car handles and how slick the track is really dictates how the racing is and how much side-by-side and two- and three-wide racing they have. A lot of times it will get so slick there in the summer that you have to kind of run single-file until you get new tires on or you get a caution to bunch them up."
-credit: ford racing