Continued from part 1 Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, were part of many drivers taking part in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Both drivers ...
Continued from part 1
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, were part of many drivers taking part in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Both drivers participated in a Q&A session during the lunch hour Monday afternoon.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
HOW HAS YOUR TEST BEEN SO FAR?
"We didn't really get too much accomplished. On the way to the race track I got ran into by a student driver. That was the start of my morning. I was at a stop light and Biffle was following me from the airport and he always runs into me, so I thought it was him joking and it wasn't, it was a student driver and instructor who just pile drove into the back of me, so that was exciting. I didn't even stop. They wanted to stop and fix it, but I didn't care if the bumper was laying on the ground or not. It was a rental. I would rather pay for it than mess with that, so, anyway, we got here and ran a couple laps and didn't run too good. Then we took the second car out and I wrecked that right away, so it's been an eventful 24 hours. The beginning of our test hasn't been very good to answer your question."
MARK SAID HE DIDN'T THINK JEFF INTENDED TO SPIN YOU OUT, BUT HE CERTAINLY INTENDED TO HIT YOU. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THAT?
"I think Mark was being nice. I think that anybody, honestly, that's watched more than two or three races in their lives and watched the replay knows that he meant to spin you out. My car was pushing so bad that you had to hit it pretty hard to spin it out. The weird thing is that he would have passed me the next lap anyway he was catching me so fast. You can clearly see when I got in the corner we both got out of the gas and he just picked up the gas a car length or so earlier and drove me over. I think it was intentional but it doesn't really matter what I think."
MIKE HELTON SAID AFTERWARDS IT WAS A RACING DEAL AND THERE WASN'T ANYTHING TO DO TO FOLLOW UP ON IT.
"Yeah, it usually is."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT WAS?
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO JUAN MONTOYA'S ANNOUNCEMENT?
"I think that was really cool. I've never been a huge follower of open wheel and haven't really watched a lot of it. We're pretty busy doing our own stuff and paying attention to all that, so I haven't probably paid that much attention to it, but obviously everybody knows who he is and how talented he is, so I think that will be really great for the sport. Everybody's reaction, from who I've talked to, has been really excited about it and think it's really cool. It was kind of a surprise to me when I heard it. I've never met him and I don't know him, but I think it's really cool he's gonna show up here and race."
DO YOU THINK THE PRESSURE OF NOT WINNING AS MUCH WAS GETTING TO JEFF WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHIND SPINNING YOU OUT?
"There were a few things. I was in his way. I was getting really slow. There's probably a couple things that went into that. When I got into him at Bristol, which, honestly, was an accident. If it wasn't, I would have told him it wasn't. So I'm sure that probably had something to do with it, even though he knocked me out of the way first at Bristol and I did get into him. That was an accident, but, whatever, that was in the past, so I think that was probably in his mind a little bit. There were only three laps to go when we were trapped with another lapped car and that was the cheap way and the easy way out to do it and Jeff is smart. Jeff is very smart and very calculating and knows what he's doing. He knew right where he did it there that it wasn't really gonna probably wreck me and he knew for sure it wasn't gonna wreck himself and he was gonna be the leaders, so I think that probably about sums it up."
IF THE TEST DOESN'T GET BETTER WILL THAT BE A PROBLEM WHEN YOU COME BACK FOR THE RACE?
"We have a lot of time left to practice and it doesn't always matter that much. Sometimes it does, but for our test here we took two cars that we really haven't had any success with. We took one new car and then we took a car that we ran at Pocono, which we finished OK but didn't run very good. At least we did have a couple of better cars that we could always bring back if our test wasn't good. We had the one car that was our baseline car, which I managed to wreck yesterday for 20th, and we have the other car that we ran at Dover and Atlanta and Charlotte or somewhere that has run real good for us. We've got two cars that are kind of our baseline cars that we know we can go back to that will run OK for us, so we've always done OK here in the past. I think if you get here and your stuff is right and you're OK at the mile-and-a-halves, you'll probably be OK here. And like I said, if we can't get these cars to run, we'll just bring back something we know a little bit more about."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE OFF WEEKEND AND IS IT A GOOD TIME FOR ONE?
"Yeah, it's nice to have the off weekend move to the end of July, instead of whenever it used to be -- the second week of July. It would be nice to have one more, instead of whatever it is -- three off weekends in the first six weeks or eight weeks. It would be nice to move one of them to, I think, right before the chase. I think that would be a great time to let everybody regroup a little bit. All of the excitement would be there and everybody would be ready to start. The fans, I don't think they'd miss anything. It would just be one week off and everybody would be looking forward to the chase starting, so that would be cool. On the off weekend, I'm racing that Saturday up in Elko, Minnesota -- a short track race. A couple friends of mine have been building cars and I've been running their short track cars just a little bit trying to help them a little bit, so I'm gonna do that. Other than that, I'm not real sure. I've got a couple of appearances during the week. I was gonna go up to the flying in Oshkosh and maybe check that out a little bit. That's really all I've got planned right now."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE ETIQUETTE OF BLOCKING?
"I did block down in front of him on that restart because on a restart if you hang back behind a guy anticipating when he's gonna start, a lot of times you can get a run on him and pass him. NASCAR has a rule, which, to my knowledge, has never been enforced or done anything about it. You're not supposed to lay back more than a car length, well he was laying back a couple car lengths and trying to get a run and pass me, and I knew that once we got down in the corner I could drive away from him and we had a better car. I don't know, you've got to pass people however you can do it, but we're not even racing yet. It's kind of hang back and try to get a run, so he did that several times. On that one restart he got a run. If somebody is underneath you and you cut him off and run him off the track, I think that's different than pulling down in front of him, so I knew he was gonna try to get to the bottom, and I just pulled down to the bottom. As far as the lap he spun me out, I didn't think I blocked him. I was still ahead of him and I didn't think he was under me at all. Until somebody has got some room underneath you, it's still your spot. It's your groove until somebody else has it. If somebody gets under you, whether it's a half-inch or a foot or 10 feet or whatever, then it's his groove, but if he's behind your bumper, then I think it's still the leader's groove. And the other thing about that restart is that it's nothing he wouldn't have done or I haven't seen him do several, several times. I was at California a couple years ago and had a run on him and it was early in a restart where everybody was bunched up and he ran me all the way down across the infield down the backstretch, so he's one of the guys that probably does it more than most."
HOW IMPORTANT IS NEW HAMPSHIRE? KURT AND TONY BOTH WON RACES THERE AND THEN WON THE TITLE.
"I don't think it's really that much more less important than any other race. It's one of the races in the chase, if you make the chase, so that part is kind of important to try to learn something there in July. I think the winner of the championship winning the July race is a total coincidence. I don't think it means anything, but you certainly want to run good at all 10 tracks in the chase and that's one of them."
WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS LIKE IT DID TO YOU YESTERDAY, IS THERE SOMETHING INHERENT IN A DRIVER THAT YOU HAVE TO GET SOME TYPE OF REVENGE?
WHEN HE SAID HE WAS SORRY AFTER THE RACE DO YOU THINK IT WAS A SINCERE APOLOGY?
"Yeah. He looked real sorry when he was out there doing those donuts (laughing). He looked real sorry."
WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE THERE FROM THE TWO POCONO RACES AND HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE SECOND IN POINTS? CAN YOU EXPERIMENT WITH SOME THINGS PRIOR TO THE CHASE?
"I don't know about Pocono changing that much. I'm a bad guy to ask that. I don't feel I do a very good job when I go there. The only thing I notice when I go back there is there's a different rut or there's a different bump or hole in the asphalt. It seems like the place gets real bumpy real fast. That's about the only thing I maybe notice that's different. They re-did the curve in the tunnel turn the last few races, but I don't know if the track really changes that much. As far as where we are in the points, it's good to be where we are in the points, but I don't think I would approach it any different than what we did last year. I think you approach every race to try to lead laps and try to put yourself in position to win. I think you want to run at a championship level; I think you want to keep your team running at a championship level; I think you want to have championship level pit stops every single week. I think that's a big mistake that some people have made, including myself, maybe being comfortable and say, 'Oh yeah, you're in the chase and we'll run good those last 10.' And maybe not put emphasis on racing in the middle of the year or two-thirds through the year before the chase starts, so I feel like it's very important to keep the momentum and keep running good and not break it -- to keep it going. I think you take your best stuff every week and keep looking for new stuff and trying new stuff and try to make yourself better, but I think you need to take your best stuff every week and put forth your best effort every week."
YOU'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN SOME HIGH-PROFILE INCIDENTS THIS YEAR. IS THIS MORE THAN USUAL AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GOT A TARGET?
"Some of it this year I've been into has obviously been my own fault and my own doing. Other things, maybe you feel like you're a victim, but usually you have something to do with it. I don't like to be involved in conflicts. I don't like to be in controversy at all. I'd rather just keep to myself and go out and do my job and not have any of that, but if you're gonna be competitive and you're gonna try as hard as you can every week and try to run up front and do all that, it's pretty hard not to ever get in a conflict with anybody. It's just part of the business."
IS IT A CONCERN TO SEE GUYS GET SPUN OUT ON MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS? WE'VE GROWN USED TO SEEING IT AT SHORT TRACKS.
"Yeah, I think so. I think that's one thing that maybe surprised me or disappointed me a little bit with what happened and maybe some of the reaction to it. Just because you spun through the infield and saved it and everything was OK doesn't mean that everything was gonna be OK. We're running 100 miles an hour at Martinsville, or 90, and we're running 190 at Chicago. Just because the sport has had a pretty good safety record the last few years, I don't think we should take that for granted and try to put anybody in harm's way on purpose that's for sure."