Michigan II: Kenseth - Ford Friday interview

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, heads into this weekend's race at MIS in third place in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings. Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, has two wins and nine top-10s in his last 12 starts at the two-mile...

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, heads into this weekend's race at MIS in third place in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings. Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, has two wins and nine top-10s in his last 12 starts at the two-mile oval.

MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion

"I feel good about where we're at, as far as making the chase we're in a pretty comfortable spot. Certainly once they re-grid the cars and everything, I think we're tied for 11th, or something like that, right now. That's not exactly stellar, when you go from third to 11th. But I feel good about my team. They're doing a great job, and they're doing a great job with car prep and all the stuff has been real reliable, we just have to get our cars running just a little bit better to have a shot at it."

WHAT IS THE GAME PLAN FOR THE NEXT FOUR RACES AS YOU PREPARE FOR THE CHASE? "Same as every week. We don't really change anything. We go and race as hard as we can race every week. We try to win the race every week when we show, so we're not going to do anything different now. We're just going to show up with our best piece every week, put our best foot forward, and do the best we can."

ON HIS CHANCES TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. "I feel like we could. I don't think, at the moment, our performance is good enough to win it, just on performance, but it takes a lot more than just performance to win a championship. You've got to be flawless on pit road, you can't make mistakes on the track, on pit road, car prep, everything's got to be reliable -- you need everything to be able to have a shot it. So, I feel good about almost every area that we have. Performance, I know, is off a little bit compared to the 24, 20, 48, some of those guys -- we're off just a little bit on performance, but I think we've got the rest of the stuff. When we get the cars running just a little bit better, I'd feel pretty good about it."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW NOW, COMPARED TO EARLIER IN THE SEASON? AND WHAT IMPACT WILL IT HAVE ON THE CHASE? "I think we run it in half the races in the chase, so I think it's going to have a big impact on it. I feel better about it than I felt in the beginning of year. I think we're still behind at some tracks with it than others. I think maybe Dover, some of those tracks, we can be fairly competitive, but Loudon, Richmond, some of those tracks, have been a big struggle for us. We still have some work to do, but we're working on it and I think we're getting it a little bit better."

HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL DO AT TALLADEGA? "I don't have any idea, I don't have any expectations, I don't know what to expect until we go there and test, really. So, we haven't had 'em at a superspeedway; it'll be the first race for 'em at a track like that, so it should be interesting. It should be brand-new for everybody, so it should be kind of the same for everybody, and I look forward to the test and see what they drive like."

BEING THIRD IN POINTS, CAN YOU DRIVE MORE AGGRESSIVELY THAN SOMEONE, SAY, EIGHTH OR NINTH OR 10TH IN THE STANDINGS OVER THESE NEXT FOUR RACES BEFORE THE CHASE? "I do everything the same every week. I drive as hard as I can every week, and whatever our car will give us and whatever situation we're in, we'll get the best finish we can out of it, and that's all you can really do. There's no really extra you can do. If there was extra you could do to try to go from fifth to winning the race, you'd do it every week and try to win every week. We're running as hard as we can run, and we'll go out and give it our best effort every week."

WHY DO YOU RUN THE BUSCH SERIES? WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT? "I've run about the same schedule in the Busch series for several years; we run 20-some-odd races. First of all I enjoy it. It's a lot of fun. We're at the track anyway on Saturdays, so instead of sitting in the motorhome lot, you might as well be out on the track. You get to learn the track more. Some tracks you come to once a year, some tracks you come two twice a year, but that's not really a lot, so to get the extra track time, and we usually run the same tire, and the track conditions are close, it's the day before, so you still learn a little bit from it -- I still do, even though we've been coming to these places for a while -- and I have a lot of fun. And our Busch program has always been real competitive, and that's fun as well."

SO, WHY DON'T MORE DRIVERS RUN BOTH SERIES? "I think right now it's probably at an all-time high for drivers. So, there is a lot more going on on Fridays, qualifying day and practicing both cars and going back and forth -- there's definitely more work to it than just doing the Cup car. And some drivers look at it like there's more of a risk, too; you know, you're out on the track more and I know some guys don't want to have a chance at getting hurt or something happening to mess up their Cup deal. I think to do them all is a lot, but I think if you do the combination races when you're at the track anyway, I don't think it takes away from your Cup program. I think it helps when you're at the same track."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT FITS ROUSH FENWAY CARS? "I don't really know, historically. I know the last couple of years, we've had good cars here. It kind of suits our engine package, a two-mile track, there's not a lot of RPM dropoff, I think, has always been good for the Fords, they seem to run good up high. So, I think that's been a plus, and I learned a lot from Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, that's most of the reason for the success that Roush has had here. I learned a lot from those guys, and those guys always had a lot of success here. I think that's carried over to Greg, Carl and me."

DOES A WIN OR TOP-FIVE HERE REALLY MEAN A LOT MORE TO JACK ROUSH? "You'd have to ask Jack that. I don't know. I think that he wants to win every race, but certainly being close to Detroit, and the manufacturers, and Jack's business being so close to here, certainly it seems like a big deal for all them -- maybe a little bit more than other races."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Mark Martin