MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus (Finished 3rd) "We had a good day. I feel like we didn't get beat on the track. We weren't the fastest car at the beginning. We were probably a fifth to tenth place car and they did a great job on pit road...
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Taurus (Finished 3rd)
"We had a good day. I feel like we didn't get beat on the track. We weren't the fastest car at the beginning. We were probably a fifth to tenth place car and they did a great job on pit road on our pit stops. We made all the right adjustments and at the end we had all the fastest cars in the race up to that point beat, so I felt good about what we did. I think our pit strategy was absolutely right. When you're up front, you can't come in and take a gamble and top off and go to the end. We came and got two tires there and that made up enough ground on all the guys that did the gas-and-go where we finished in front of them all. So we did everything right. As long as it took them to clean all that rubber up back there and all that stuff I knew that somebody was gonna stretch it and probably beat us."
ANYTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY WHEN YOU STAYED OUT?
"We did everything right, I believe. It wasn't just the pit or not to pit thing, it was the coming in after the pits were open the first time and topping off. That's what got those guys there - pitting later in the caution. I don't know how to word it right. No disrespect to wherever you're running, but we've done it a million times when we haven't been running very good. When you're running tenth or fifteenth or wherever you're running, it's easy to take a gamble and go back to 25th and be full of gas and know if it works out just right, I can make it to the end because I'm not running quite as fast. 'I'm running in the middle anyway, so I might as well take a chance and go to the back and try it.' I don't know where those guys were running all day, so I'm not necessarily saying that about them, but I know they weren't in the top five, six or seven. So that would have been silly for us to try that - to be running - I think we restarted second and with this lucky dog thing, I don't know how many cars were on the lead lap. I can only imagine there had to be 30, so you would have gone all the way back there. So I think we did the right thing. We beat all the cars that got tires on that caution - did the gas-and-go thing - we made up enough time on two tires to pass Carl at the end, which I was thinking was for the win until I found out there were two more guys out there. I think we did our pit strategy right. I think we made all the adjustments right. The 97 was the best car all day and on that last long run we beat him, so I feel like we made all the right adjustments and had the car to win the race at the end, but circumstances didn't allow it."
YOU GAINED SOME POINTS ON 10TH.
"Honestly, I sort of forgot about the chase after Pocono. We've had two terrible Poconos. In the last Pocono we were making ground, making ground, making ground and we lost so much. We were a long ways out, so I don't know where we are now. Yeah, if everything goes perfect the next three weeks we could make it, but it's definitely a real, real long shot."
DO YOU THINK YOU COULD MAKE UP THAT GROUND AND MAKE THE CHASE?
"I don't know. I haven't worried about it. I want to win races and lead laps. At a lot of places we've run much better. I still don't think we're quite in the form that we were maybe a couple of years ago or three years ago, but we're turning it around and we're getting better and that's all I can ask for. If we can run up front and be competitive and put ourselves in a position to win, we should, hopefully, win some races. But all you can do is the best you can every week and let those points fall where they may. I was stressing out about it before we got to Pocono and after we left there with our 39th-place or whatever it was - however we managed that - we were so far behind that I sort of forgot about it. So we're just running the best we can run every week. We're still trying to get as many points as we can every week and still try to lead laps and try to win if you can and finish as high as you can so we'll just see how it shakes out."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DEBRIS YOU GOT ON THE GRILLE?
"When we got the debris on the grille, my car all of a sudden turned real good, which should have made me think of something. But these cars are very sensitive to aerodynamics. When that big piece on there the car turned so good that I went right by Kurt. I actually just passed him for the lead and didn't know it was on there. It was heads-up by Robbie. He told me to check my temperature and it was already real hot. I didn't even see it was on there, so I probably would have melted it down. So I just had to slow down and get back behind Kurt and told him what I was doing, and got up to his bumper and got it blown off the grille. Then we were still good enough to pass him and move on, so it was lucky that I was passing him for the lead at the time it happened, so I didn't have to back up in the field and find somebody to let pass me and get behind him and try to get it off the grille. The same thing happened to him earlier in the race and we did the same scenario. He let me lead a lap there and then pulled behind me and got the paper off his grille and then he went back on and took off, so there was just a lot of trash out there."
HOW DO YOUR EMOTIONS CHANGE WHEN YOU THINK YOU'RE PASSING CARL FOR THE LEAD AND THEN REALIZE IT'S NOT?
"We were running and with those two tires we were making up a lot of time. I was watching pit road. You've got such a long straightway here that you can do a lot of things. I wasn't watching the scoreboard, but I was watching pit road to see who was pitting and what was going on. With somewhere around 10 to go I saw Carl rolling off pit road and merging up ahead of me. I knew that Carl was obviously the leader and he obviously did a gas-and-go and we made up some ground on him, so I just assumed that was for the lead. So I went ahead and got racing him real hard and passed him, and then with two to go Robbie told me there were two more guys up there. Robbie was pretty enthused. He wanted me to go catch the 19 and the 10 and I said, 'I can't even see them and we've got three laps left.' I was just hoping honestly that they would run out of gas and we'd get it, but I knew the 99 was the guy to beat. He was leading the race before we pitted, driving away, and I knew when I saw him come off pit road I thought that was gonna be the race for the win."
DID YOUR HEART SINK?
"Yeah, I mean you don't really know. When it's that close until you come off four and they're still rolling you don't know if they're gonna make it in some of those situations. I've always hated fuel mileage races. We've been on the good side of it before, but I hate it. I always like the fastest car to win, even if it's not me. The racer in me likes that, but they did a good job and a lot of this sport is about that. Ryan won a bunch of races a while back on that and they pretty much outsmarted everybody and outfoxed everybody and took the big gamble when they could afford to take it and it paid off for those guys. That was a great job by them. I was just hoping that nobody was gonna make it and everybody was gonna at least have to get a gas-and-go."