Kenseth Chicagoland post-qualifying interview

Ford Racing press release

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Crown Royal Ford (Qualified 1st)

TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD YOUR CAR IS AND STARTING OUT FRONT TOMORROW FOR THE FIRST CHASE RACE. “Well, it reminds me a little bit of Vegas so yesterday we worked on race trim the first practice and then only made one qualifying run the second practice and it drove as good as I could expect it to drive. I told them to just leave it. In race trim we struggled just a little bit more but it seems like the key is getting through the bumps in turn three. It reminds me of the bumps in turn one in Vegas. In qualifying trim it went through the bumps perfect but we struggled with it in race trim. I was thrilled with our car for one lap and being in qualifying trim and race trim I think we have a little bit of work to do.”

WHAT DOES TRACK POSITION MEAN HERE? “It is a factor everywhere. I think the track is really wide so there are a lot of grooves to pass. I think it is going to be important. There were a few times in practice yesterday that I ran up on some cars and it was more difficult to get around then what I expected. I think it is always important and starting up front and having a good pit stall is nice. Hopefully you get a good start and get bonus points and try to keep up with the track a little better. We have been qualifying a lot better, if you throw Richmond out, but slipping at the end of the race. I am happy to be on the pole but it is still just a starting position and we have to work hard on the race and keeping up with our adjustments.”

I ASKED YOU AFTER BRISTOL ABOUT YOUR NEW QUALIFYING PROWESS AND YOU DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT. IS IT NOTHING PERSONALLY YOU ARE DOING? “Not really. My cars have just been fast and driving really good. I have always tried really hard. I have probably done a little better job at not over driving the car. That has been a fault of mine in qualifying in the past, over driving and driving the corner too hard and messing up the rest of the corner. I think Jimmy (Fennig) works really hard on it too and it has always been really important to Jimmy. Back in the day when it was easier to pass it probably wasn’t as important to us as it is today. Maybe I am a little better at it but the main thing is the cars have been really fast.”

AT THE END OF THE DAY TOMORROW IF CHASE GUYS STRUGGLE HERE ON THE MILE-AND-A-HALF WOULD IT BE FAIR TO SAY THEY ARE IN BIG TROUBLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP OR IS THERE ENOUGH TIME TO GET IT FIGURED OUT? “Not necessarily. I know we always group them together because they are the same size track and there are guys that seem to run good at all of them or not as good. They are all really a lot different. I think this is similar to Texas but a lot different than Charlotte for instance. You want to start off running good here but it is a little of a unique track, a little like Texas and Kansas. We only come here once a year and haven’t been here in a long time. Last year we saw David get the set-up perfect and blew everyone away. Some other guys you maybe expected to run better kind of missed it. I think it will be a little bit of a race like that. I think a few guys will hit it better than the others and hard for the rest to keep up.”

YOU SAID YOUR QUALIFYING TRIM GOT YOU THROUGH THE BUMPS BUT NOT YOUR RACE TRIM. IS THE RACE TOMORROW GOING TO BE DECIDED ON WHO CAN GET THROUGH THE BUMPS THE EASIEST? WHAT IS THE TRICK WITHOUT REVEALING TOO MUCH? “It is not just about who can get through the bumps but the way they are in turn 3, especially with the tail wind today that is an important part of the track. Where the biggest bumps are is kind of your entry and where you are trying to get to your marks in turn three. For me, when we didn’t have it quite right, no matter what I did it was hard to make a fast lap time. Turn one and two is not bad. It is not just about that but I think to have the front end working good everywhere it is going to have to work good in those bumps. Certainly if you go high enough you can go around them but I would assume most guys are going to be on the top on a long run and if you expect to pass or the better cars will have to get through there. It is pretty tough getting into one but it doesn’t affect the corner much. Turn three and four the whole thing is pretty rough.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED A FORD HAS NEVER WON HERE? “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you. I guess we have been close here a few times and just couldn’t quite get it done. This has been one of our better tracks, maybe not the last couple of years. You gotta have a lot of things go right to win these days, it is pretty competitive.”

“I think the concentration for the Chase is every track the same. This isn’t an exciting answer but all ten races pay the same amount of points and I don’t think you want to try to give up anything. Really we honestly do have a plan ahead of time for what cars we want to bring and things you want to implement through the next 10 weeks but we don’t really plan much farther ahead than one week. You try to bring your best stuff and put your best foot forward, get the best result we can tomorrow. We try to learn from that for the future tracks and put it behind you and move on to New Hampshire and do the same thing. Ten races is a lot of races.”

DOES GETTING ON THE POLE MENTALLY HELP YOU FOR THE RACE? “Yes and no. You feel good about having the first pick for the pits. You feel good about hopefully leading a lap and get one bonus point. It doesn’t sound like a lot today but it really kind of is. You feel better about those couple of things but on the other side of it you started on the front, you qualified on the pole and everybody is expecting big things. It puts pressure on you and the team to keep up with the track and adjustments and try to keep the car there all day.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Tags chicago, ford, kenseth, sprint cup