Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point race heading into this weekend's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600. Kenseth, who has finished in the top 10 in five of six races so far this season,...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point race heading into this weekend's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600. Kenseth, who has finished in the top 10 in five of six races so far this season, spoke about track conditions in Phoenix, his run-in last week with Jeff Gordon and his growing relationship with crew chief Todd Parrott.
ANY INSIGHTS AFTER A FULL DAY OF PRACTICE? "Not really. The main thing I noticed is that Jimmie shaved his beard. Other than that I didn't notice much. It was a good day of practice. The track was hot and slick and I think tomorrow with it being a longer race it will be different. Not sure what today's practice really did I guess. I don't know a whole lot." A LOT OF GUYS ARE SPINNING OUT. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? "You would have to ask them, because I am not spinning out, knock on wood. I don't know why they are spinning out."
HOW COME NOBODY IS USING THE NEW FORD ENGINE? "Gosh, I don't have any answers for you today. I don't know why. That would be a question for Doug Yates and Jack Roush. I know last year when they were developing that they were having a hard time getting parts. I think they were having a hard time with the castings. The plate stuff has some races on it, but to be honest with you, I don't know why we aren't all racing it yet. I know the cars are ready for it."
HOW DO YOU FIND THE TRACK SO FAR, AND DO YOU THINK SUNLIGHT WILL PLAY A FACTOR TOMORROW? "I would think the biggest time it will play a factor is when we can't see for an hour or so when the sun is setting. It can become very difficult here when the sun sets to try to find your pit stall and trying to find turn one and all that. I would say that is the biggest challenge."
WHAT IS IT THAT VETERAN DRIVERS ARE LOOKING FOR IN UP-AND-COMERS IN THE WAY THEY RACE? HOW SHOULD THOSE GUYS BE RACING YOU SO THEY AVOID THAT STIGMA SOME OF THE YOUNG GUYS HAVE? "I think every situation is different. I can't really answer questions for any other drivers. I don't really treat drivers different. I treat them all the same whether it is their first week on the track or their tenth year. If they give you respect and room on the track, you do the same to them. Usually you race them how they race you. There might be a driver that a friend of mine has problems with all the time that I have never had a problem with. Every situation is different I think."
COMING OUT OF THE MARTINSVILLE EXPERIENCE, IF THERE WERE A COMPARABLE SITUATION AT THE END OF THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT, IS THERE ANY REASON TO EXPECT FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE THAT ANYTHING DIFFERENT WOULD HAPPEN? "Every track and every situation is different. The Martinsville thing, I saw a chance to go for a win and I barely got into Jeff and it was at Martinsville at 40 mph. I thought for him to say that he was going to make sure he ruined my day - which he did by the way and I finished 18th - because I barely bumped into the back of him -- was a little bit harsh and unreasonable, but that is my view and I am sure his is different. Whenever I have a chance, I am going to go for a win. I am not going to go down there and spin someone out for the win. I just won't do that no matter who it is. I am going to race them as hard as I can and as fair as I can. This track is a lot different from Martinsville. There are two or three grooves down there in one and two and no matter if they throw three green-white-checkered's, there should be enough room for everyone to get through."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE WHEN IT IS ALL SAID AND DONE TO BE A SPRINT CUP CHAMPION? "Well, if you look at the past few years you have to obviously get into the chase and it would be nice to get a few wins to get some bonus points going in. A couple years ago when Jimmie won and Jeff finished second, Jeff had almost a perfect chase with a top five average if I am not mistaken and still lost the championship. It seems to me just from watching that the 48 is as good as I have to be. We are going to have to be about perfect to beat those guys with everyone having the same luck or fortune. If they don't have any trouble, I think you have to be about perfect to beat them."
IF YOU ASKED PEOPLE TO NAME DRIVERS THAT WOULD GET INTO INCIDENTS WITH OTHER DRIVERS ON THE TRACK, YOU AND JEFF GORDON WOULD PROBABLY RANK LOW. WHY IS IT THAT YOURS ALWAYS SEEM TO BE WITH HIM? "I don't know, and I always seem to come out on the short end of the stick for some reason too. I don't know if it is coincidence or not. After the third or fourth time you start to think it isn't coincidence though. I have talked to him at length and I don't know if he has a problem with me in particular or what. Gosh, I was happy to run that well at Martinsville and then to have a shot to have a chance to pass someone for the win was great. I was so happy with how our car ran, but very disappointed with the finish because we could have come out of there leading the points, or at least with another top ten finish. I was disappointed with the result, but man I was happy with how we ran."
I GET THE IMPRESSION THAT JEFF IS ON EDGE A LITTLE BIT THIS YEAR, DO YOU TRY TO READ OTHER DRIVERS AND HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT ABOUT JEFF? "Not really, I don't really pay that much attention to them to tell you the truth. I don't watch the news shows when I get home and no offense, but I don't read what you write when I get home that much either. If people are going to write bad stuff about you, then you probably shouldn't listen and if they are writing good stuff you shouldn't listen because you will think you are doing better than what you are.
AFTER TWO PRACTICE SESSIONS TODAY, DID YOU NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT WITH THE SPOILER? "To be honest with you, no. This has been one of our worst places since I went to this car for some reason. I did see a couple of those cars that spun out, so maybe that has something to do with it. I hope it does and I hope it makes it harder to drive and harder to catch and correct because I think that probably rewards you when you have a good day and are careful. The biggest thing today was that it was really slick out there, almost like it was a different tire or something. The track was real slippery, but it is real hot and sunny out there."
CAN YOU UPDATE US ON HOW THINGS ARE GOING WITH TODD? "I think things are going really great. I didn't really know Todd very well before this, other than saying hi in the garage or whatever. He has a lot of enthusiasm and the leadership I think our team needed. It has been really good and has been a lot of fun. Even when things don't go quite right it has still been fun. Our car being better has helped that too. We have a lot better stuff to work with this year than last year. He has been doing a really good job, we have gotten to know each other a little better every week and so far so good."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE QUALIFYING EFFORT HERE? "Not yet, really. I think the track will be a lot different at 4 or 5 o'clock compared to now. We didn't work on it much; we focused on race trim mostly. It is going to be a surprise for me honestly."
IS IT FAIR TO TAKE THE INTERIM TAG OFF TODD'S TITLE YET? "Well, that is not my department, that is Jack's department. I am certainly happy with everything Todd's doing and hopefully he is happy with what I am doing. I don't see any signals that things are going to change. We are working well together and hopefully we keep it going.
-source: ford racing