Matt Kenseth - Indianapolis Friday Media Visit

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

“I’m looking forward to the Brickyard. I think it’s our second-biggest race of the year, for sure, and everybody looks forward to coming here and winning this race, so that’s a big deal. The Sprint Summer Showdown is an exciting program that they put together. It reminds me of the days when Winston used to do the Winston Million, so it’s cool to be a part of that and hopefully we can win one of these next five races and have a shot at Atlanta.”

WHAT MAKES A GOOD CREW CHIEF? “I’ve learned over the last couple of years that a crew chief dynamic isn’t just a crew chief/driver dynamic, it’s a crew chief/driver/team dynamic and making all of that work. I think every team is unique, every crew chief, every driver and the combination it takes to make that successful is unique, so I don’t think there’s an exact formula that makes a good crew chief. I think it’s the whole group together and how they work together and how they operate together that makes it either successful or not successful.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH JIMMY? “I like everything about working with Jimmy, but he’s just the right mix for the team that we have and probably for me for the things I like and don’t like, but it just fit better with the whole team dynamic and who he’s got working with him.”

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

IS THERE STILL A MAGICAL FEELING COMING TO THIS PLACE? “Yeah, just having the week off and we’ve been running pretty good most of the year, so it doesn’t feel like a long season so far, so it’s always cool to come here to Indy. It’s always one you have circled on your calendar and you’re ready to go when you get here.”

JACK IS STILL LOOKING FOR HIS FIRST WIN HERE. ANY THOUGHTS ON WHY THAT IS? “I’ve never really thought about that, to be honest with you. In the past we’ve had some really good runs and some really good cars and haven’t always had the finishes, but it’s probably circumstances more than anything. I think we have equipment as good as anybody, we’ve just got to figure out how to make that all work for here and for the race and strategy that goes into being successful here.”

WHAT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR TEAM? “I feel good. It’s a little bit different race than some of the other races. It’s not a real wide track to pass on and passing is tough, so track position is real important, so it’s a little different race. I think this is one of the races where not necessarily the fastest car always wins. I think you’ve got to have a fast car, you’ve got to have great strategy, great pit stops, do things right on the restarts – do all those things to be in position.”

DO YOU THINK THE FR9 ENGINE COULD COME INTO PLAY THIS WEEKEND WITH THE HEAT? “I think it comes into play every weekend. You can never have too much horsepower, so you always look forward to that. I don’t know how much better it cools than another manufacturer. It cools better than the old engine we had, but I don’t know if it’s really an advantage on every other manufacturer or not, but it’s certainly been a good piece and it’s been a big reason for our performance picking up this year.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THIS TRACK? “It’s pretty much a one-groove track. All four corners are unique and a lot different, so certainly it’s important to, first of all, have your car driving right, but to hit your marks and get everything you can. If you miss one of these corners here, especially turn two is always a trouble spot for me, if you miss the entrance to that corner, you certainly have a big penalty to pay down that long straightaway, so it is important to not mess up on your marks and make sure you get in every corner.”

WHAT MADE YOU START TWEETING ON TWITTER? “Just because I told everybody I would never do it. I was sitting around and I was like, ‘You know, maybe I’ll start for awhile and see what it’s like.’ I can’t guarantee how long I’ll do it, but I figured I would check it out. I was actually watch some other people were saying. I was on some different websites and on watching what was going on with the labor situation and they always have a tweet of the day from some football player on there, so I started following some of them a little bit and watching a little bit and figured it was maybe time to get out of the dark ages and try it.”

IS IT SOMETHING YOU’RE GONNA STICK WITH FOR NOW? “Well, it’s been a whole day (laughter). I don’t even know what I’m doing yet, except for entering what I’m doing and pushing ‘send’. It’s only been a day and I think I’ve only sent three of them, so, yeah, I’ll stick with it for a little while longer than that.”

HOW MUCH OF THE ATTRACTION OF BEING A RACER WHEN YOU STARTED WAS JUST GOING FAST? “Honestly, the attraction for me wasn’t necessarily going fast, it was always the competition. In everything I’ve done I’ve always enjoyed competition, whether it was playing board games with my family or riding our snowmobiles or whatever it was. That was really the attraction, not necessarily to just go fast, but to go faster than everybody else and figure out how to get your car faster than everybody’s and being able to win. That’s always really been the attraction, not necessarily the speed. To me, it’s just as big a thrill to win at a half-mile track as it is a two-and-a-half mile track. It’s not the miles per hour number, it’s the competition and trying to be successful and beat everybody.”

WHAT’S THE FASTEST YOU’VE EVER DRIVEN A CAR? “I guess in one of these cars probably here or Michigan or wherever your top speeds are the fastest. I don’t know – 210 I guess or something.”

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE CREW CHIEF CHANGES AND THE TRANSITION PERIOD LIKE? “In our organization it’s a little bit different because it’s so big and everybody shares and we all have meeting together. There are recommended setups that get passed out, so it’s a little bit different than maybe what it used to be. I don’t think somebody comes in and changes the world right away, but I think it can work several different ways. I know a lot of people that whenever they get somebody new in there they’re kind of in the honeymoon period and everything goes great and they get along good and they start running better right away, and other guys maybe just don’t take hold right away, so I think it’s just kind of a trial and error depending on where you’re at in the season and how you’re doing, and if things aren’t working, it’s probably a good time to try something else if you’re already looking at trying to improve your performance this year, but are you looking toward trying to build on it for next year.”

DID YOU KNOW WHAT JIMMY LIKED WHEN HE CAME ON BOARD? “I don’t think it’s so much how he wants to set up a car, I think the biggest thing to learn is learn each other’s language and during a race how much you need to adjust. Loose to me might not be the same as when he worked with Kurt Busch, so to give each other information and make the right changes and what you like to feel, so I think that’s the biggest thing.”

IS NASCAR AT ITS GREATEST LEVEL OF COMPETITION NOW? “It depends. I guess you could play point/counterpoint with that because Jimmie has won five straight championships and nobody has ever done that, either. But I feel like every year the competition gets tighter. There are more and more rules. It’s harder to get an advantage on anybody. I think every year it seems to get more competitive. The times seem to be closer together and everybody seems to be going closer to the same speed, so I think every year it gets more competitive.”

IS IT NASCAR’S RULES OR MORE GOOD DRIVERS? “Today, compared to maybe 20 years ago, there are probably more good teams. There are more big teams, more sharing of information. There are less motor builders, so there will be less of a swing from top to bottom in power, and the rules are a huge part of it. There is so much less room to work than what there used to be.”

WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THIS TRACK PRESENT TO YOU TECHNICALLY? “It’s not really that difficult to just drive around it depending on what your car is doing. If your car is driving exactly like you want it, it’s a fairly easy track to drive around, although it is one of those tracks that when you try to get that little extra there’s actually a big payday for that usually if you can get through there just a little quicker, so it’s a fun track to drive around. The hardest part about here is figuring out how to pass, especially if everybody is running the exact same line as you. It’s a tough one to pass at, so that’s probably the toughest part.”

HOW DO YOU ASSESS YOUR TEAM’S CHANCES THIS WEEKEND? “As an organization I think our chances are as good as anybody’s today, but we need to get on the track and see how our cars stack up. I certainly think there’s a lot that goes into winning this race. Pit strategy and not making mistakes getting on and off pit road, having good restarts on the track and not making mistakes there, and getting everything you can those first couple of corners when the cars are bunched up, there’s a lot that goes into it and I think everybody has to do a perfect job from strategy to pit road to the driver on restarts, like I said, getting on and off pit road – all that kind of stuff – to have a chance because I don’t think you can come out of your last pit stop 15th and have a chance to win. I don’t think that can happen, so you’ve got to figure out how to get that track position and keep it all day.”

WHAT HAS MADE CARL SO SUCCESSFUL THIS SEASON? “I think you need to ask him that. I think our organization has been a lot better since about 10 weeks to go in the season last year. I think our cars have been faster. As of today, I think three out of the four are in the top 12, and we’ve probably got a chance for the fourth one too, so I think all of our cars have been running a lot better. Carl has been able to, I don’t think really have any bad finishes and he’s been real competitive and won some races earlier this year. Carl is really good. He’s always been real competitive.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS RACE WEEKEND EXPANDING NEXT YEAR WITH NATIONWIDE AND THE ROAD COURSE RACE? “I don’t really have much of an idea, to be honest with you. I think it’s cool the Nationwide cars are coming here and I hope I can get one to drive because it’ll be neat to get an extra race on the track. But on the other side of that, kind of being the traditionalist that I am, I’ll miss ORP and being out there and those guys being out there because that’s one of the greatest short tracks I think there is anywhere in the country. It’s always put on a great race and I remember when I started running that race and the stands were always packed and people were sitting on blankets on the hill. It was just a cool Saturday night short-track environment like we all grew up in, so it’s sad to see that go, but I think it’ll be neat for the Nationwide guys to be able to race here.”

WILL A LOT OF CUP REGULARS WANT TO JUMP INTO THAT NNS RACE NEXT YEAR? “I think everybody will try to run it. I think just like this year sponsorship will dictate a lot of that and whether you can get it or not, but I think everybody will want to run it. I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t want to race here an extra time.”

By: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Tags brickyard 400, ford, indianapolis, kenseth, nascar, nscs, roush, sprint cup