Michigan II: Winning team interview

KENSETH SCORES THIRD VICTORY OF SEASON * Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag for the 13th time in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career with this afternoon's victory. * Kenseth also won at MIS on June 16, 2002. * It is ...

KENSETH SCORES THIRD VICTORY OF SEASON

* Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag for the 13th time in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career with this afternoon's victory.

* Kenseth also won at MIS on June 16, 2002.

* It is Kenseth's third victory of the season. Kenseth also won earlier this year at Dover and California.

* In 23 starts this year, Kenseth now has a series-leading 12 top-fives and 13 top-10s, in addition to the three victories.

JACK ROUSH -- Roush Racing

"We ran well. I'm little like the old woman that lived in the show -- she had so many children she didn't know what to do. I'm just heartbroken over the fact that Carl wasn't able to close the deal with the promise that he had earlier, and of course Greg Biffle had been off a little bit at Pocono and at Chicago and we tried a little bit different aero package on his car today that was more reminiscent of what he had for him last year and hoped that that would work. I don't know if that was the answer or something else got us off a little bit. But we weren't quite as good in the closing laps and I hoped to be with the 16 car. Jamie McMurray led some laps, Todd Kluever in the 3M car, I guess he had an accident early that wasn't his fault. We certainly needed for him to run all day to learn as much as he could about the race track and racing with these guys. My glass is not quite half full with all the things that happened that were really bad for us. But the 17 team, the DeWalt team, is championship form. We've got an agreement with DeWalt that goes down the road for many years now, real happy about that. I think they're happy with the results, certainly, that Matt's been able to do for them what we expected and what they expected. Robbie did a nice job. The 17's pit crew is by far the best we got. Robbie put that together, he won't accept anything less than absolute perfection with the guys that go over the wall and change the tires. They had a great car. Robbie has figured out, among all the things in our inventory of aero potential and aero option, he's figured out what Matt likes, and they were able to close the deal as they were able to twice before."

ROBBIE REISER -- crew chief, No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion

"At times it didn't look great. When you're the only car on the race track and everybody had pitted it wasn't looking too good. Matt did a really good job. I think the biggest thing that happened, probably, is that we wrecked his car so hard at Chicago and the guys back in the shop put this car back together pretty much the way it was, and I think that made a big difference for us this weekend because the car ran just like it was, and that was key."

IN VICTORY LANE, MATT SAID HE WAS PROUDEST FOR HIS TEAM AND THAT HE WAS PAYING THE TEAM BACK WITH THIS WIN BECAUSE HE FELT LIKE HE HAD LET YOU DOWN A COUPLE OF TIMES...

"He owes us a lot more than just this (laughter). No, I'm just kidding. We show up here every week and do the best job we can. It doesn't matter if it's second or 30th or whatever, we give it everything we've got, and that goes for Matt and everybody involved with this team -- the pit-stop guys or the guys that build the cars, we do the job that we can do and that's all you can ask every week. It doesn't always work out for us, and some days like today it did."

IS THIS THE SAME CAR THAT MATT WON HIS OTHER TWO RACES THIS YEAR?

"He won California with this one and won with a different one at Dover."

JEFF GORDON TALKED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT CHICAGO EARLIER. WAS THIS RACE WEIGHING ON YOUR MIND AS FAR AS WHAT HAPPENED AT CHICAGO?

"I need him to think about that at Chicago. They race the race cars and do the best they can and whatever happens, happens. Next week it might be the same situation the other way around, I don't know. All we can do is show up and do the best we can. If Matt feels whatever way he needs to race him at the end of the race, that's what's going to happen. That's what competition's about and that's why everybody comes to see the races. That's why we're here."

AT THE END OF THE RACE...

"I can usually tell in his voice where we're at and I could tell that he was saving quite a bit because he thought that caution was going to come out at the end and he wanted to have something there. Matt one of the best for knowing what he's got and watching the guy behind him and knowing how fast he can drive that car. I think that with all the things that happened this year if that yellow would've come out he was going to be ready for it."

JACK ROUSH: "I'd like to comment on that a little. This is my 19th year of doing the Cup thing, and of course I've been around race cars and stock-car racing with my friends the Wood Brothers for many more years than that, and Matt puts me in mind of David Pearson more than anybody I've watched race. We go out and test with him, and I won't say it's a waste of time, but it's not horrible productive to go test with him, because he doesn't practice as well as he races and you've really got to go by the inflection in his voice or put a meter on him to really understand where your package is. He'll really show you what it can do when it matters. He commented to me that his last set of tires were tighter than what he had before and he knew he was going to have trouble, so he didn't press as hard as he could've early to save his right-front tire, so if the caution did come out, and the 24 did get on him, he'd still have a weapon to deal with."

MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 1st)

"We did have a good run. We had a good car all day. We made pretty good adjustments on it. We didn't have a winning car, I think, but Robbie, through pit strategy and the guys over the wall doing fast pit stops put the car in contention to win. We made some adjustments that were good then and made it better. But really they just put me there again and probably didn't have the best car, I just had the best team that got us out front again."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PIT STRATEGY OF KEEPING MATT OUT ON THE TRACK?

ROBBIE REISER: "I'm notorious for putting four tires on and getting blamed for being way too conservative, so today he was running okay, so I thought, 'What the heck,' track position meant everything and he always wants to gamble a little bit, so I thought I'd test him a little bit on those old tires and see if we could stay out there. In all honesty, the strategy the way we pit these races, we really don't know what we're doing, we just go by the way the cautions fall and sometimes they look really good and sometimes they look really bad. It's more of the luck of the race that sets us up. There ain't too many races where you sit there and say, This is what we're going to do, and it all plans out and comes out that way. It's more of when the cautions fall and what position you're in and how your car's running. Anyway, it all worked out and everything worked out for us."

MATT KENSETH: "Another thing, too, Robbie's not giving himself quite enough credit, but I think he saw earlier in the race and we both saw, too, that there was one run where everybody ran like 10 or 12 laps and stayed out on their used tires and we ran faster on our used tires. That whole group of us, than we did on new tires, so we were up front and I think our laps times were good and he knew what he was up to. He knew he had to stop one more time and everybody had to stop one more time. We got lucky with the way the caution fell, but it was good call. The other thing is he stuck with his strategy. We stayed out and everybody pitted, and then the caution came out again in another seven or eight laps and I think most people would be thinking we'd pit, but we knew we weren't in our fuel window so he decided to stay out and play it all the way through and it worked out good. Great job, Robbie."

AT THE TIME WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE STRATEGY? AND WHAT ABOUT THE DUCT TAPE CAUTION, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

"Well, what's the right word? Paranoid, I guess, maybe. I don't know if that's the right word, but whenever there's a caution and we're leading and it doesn't work out your way you're always, right away, 'Ah, of course they just threw a caution.' That's just my human nature, I guess. The way it turned out it wasn't a big deal. I didn't know for sure if it was the right call not. We were running lap times. It was kind of worth the gamble. I didn't think on even grounds, even pit stops, even tires with everybody, I didn't think we could win the race. So, I thought it was alright. It kept us upfront. If the caution fell, we're going to be okay, we're going to be on the same strategy as the leaders. Even if the caution didn't fall and we pitted under green I felt like we were going to have short-pit enough in the fuel window that we were going to make up enough ground whereafter everyone cycled through their green-flag pit stops we were going to be the leader anyway. So I thought that either way it was worth the risk."

JEFF GORDON MENTIONED THE CHICAGO RACE. WAS IT ON YOUR MIND, TOO?

"I forgot about it. Do want more than that? Honestly, I guess, I thought of Las Vegas, Bristol and Chicago, because all three of them races I ended up losing and the guys put me in position to win, and all three of them races the last run we had our car a little too tight, similar to what we were today on our last set of tires. Probably over-drove the car a little bit all three of them races, got a big lead and then faded real bad and got tight or got passed or ran into or ran into twice and passed once the last few laps of all three of them races. SoI had all three of them on my mind a little bit, just because of that, but I just tried to be a little smarter and go slower at the beginning of the run and save the front tires. Jack and Doug and everyone that's working on the engines is doing such a great job it's really easy, even at a two-mile track, to drive the car into the corner too hard and use up the front tires and get the car too tight. And I just tried to be really conscious of that and save something at the end so we could race hard."

WITH GORDON GAINING TOWARDS THE END OF THE RACE, HOW DID YOU RUN THE LAST 14 LAPS?

"I ran 'em different than I did them other races. Instead of running the same lap times as he did or a little quicker for seven or eight laps and running a half a second slower the last seven or eight laps and getting passed, even though I knew I was a tenth or two slower I just ran on the edge of my tires and made sure I didn't skid my tires. I just drove it right on the edge of the right-front. I was loose off a little bit when I was on the right-rear, but I just made sure I didn't drive in too hard and skid the right-front so I had something for the end. If he was faster than me, he was faster than me. If I would've overdrove it anymore or drove it any harder I wouldn't have had anything for the end. The last three laps the way it was I was pretty much junk. That's all I had to work with so I just did the best I could with that. If he would've caught and passed me I couldn't have done anything else about it. For that segment of laps, running at that pace was going to be our fastest 30-lap time."

TODAY YOU WON A RACE, SHAVE A LOT OF POINTS OFF JIMMIE JOHNSON'S LEAD IN THE STANDINGS AND WIN ONE FOR THE TEAM. OF THOSE THREE, WHICH WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU?

"That's a trick question. All three of them, but they all go together. To gain points on Jimmy we needed to take the checkered flag and getting the win for the guys was great and that gave us momentum. I think where we are in the points is great. Obviously, when you lead laps and win races that's the most points you can get. I really think momentum is really important going into this chase. We ran really good in the chase last year even though we started the year terrible. We just had a lot of problems.

"I think I wrecked it, we had flat tires, we had all kinds of things go wrong it seems, had brakes fall apart, we had a lot of things go wrong. In the chase I think we performed at a level that could've won the championship if we wouldn't have had any problems. In 2004 we started the season strong and we got bad in the middle of the year and kind of floated into the chase and kind of floated through it and didn't do good at all, and I didn't see the fire and enthusiasm and all that stuff. So this year one of my goals was to make the chase, my main goal was to win the championship, but the other one is to carry momentum into the chase. To take next two or three races just as seriously as the rest of the year and try to go in there with some momentum and keep the spring in the guys' steps and the fire in their eyes, ready to go out and try to win them a championship and try to go out and show them we're serious about it."

HOW SWEET IS IT TO BREAK CHEVROLET'S SEVEN-RACE WINNING STREAK, ESPECIALLY HERE IN JACK ROUSH'S BACKYARD?

"I hadn't really thought about it until right now. It's a cool whenever you win a race. Obviously there's not quite as many Ford teams as maybe what there was in years past, and us as a group at Roush haven't been able to win as many races as we did last year. It always feels good to win. It's always special to win here at Michigan with Jack and having his whole operation right down the road in Livonia and that's where it all comes from and where it all started. It's good to come here and win with all the people from Roush Industries here and all the people from Ford, too."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Jamie McMurray , David Pearson