Note: Rain cancelled Friday's qualifying session, so the starting lineup will be set according to the rule book. Matt Kenseth will start eighth. Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, opened this season with back-to-back...
Note: Rain cancelled Friday's qualifying session, so the starting lineup will be set according to the rule book. Matt Kenseth will start eighth.
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, opened this season with back-to-back victories at Daytona and Fontana, and is in eighth place in the standings heading into this weekend's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Kenseth, who has eight top-10 finishes in 18 career starts at the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track, met with the media prior to Friday's scheduled practice session.
IT'S RAINING TODAY, BUT THE WEATHER IS SUPPOSED TO BE VERY GOOD THIS WEEKEND. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE COMPETITION HERE IN SUNDAY'S RACE? "I think it'll be good. I'm probably not the expert on Pocono -- Jeff [Burton, also at the press conference in the infield media center] probably could tell you a lot more than me, I think Jeff pretty much covered all of it with the double-file restarts, obviously that's going to be different for us all, that'll be the first weekend for that so that should be exciting, trying to figure out how some things work, and different strategy with probably all the cars on the lead lap, so that's going to be a little different. So, there's some things to work through there, but I think that'll be exciting. It'll be something new thrown into the mix. It'll be something for us all to try to figure out."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROS AND CONS ABOUT THE DOUBLE-FILE RE-STARTS AND THE WAVE-AROUND, AND HOW WILL THAT AFFECT THE RACING AT POCONO? "It's tough to get a lap back, kind of, but it's kind of tough to lose a lap here, too, because it takes 55 seconds for the leader to get back around to you, so it all depends on how you look at it. I think if you're one of the lead-lap cars and you're running in the top-10 or something then the one drawback to it maybe is that you're going to have 40 cars on the lead lap or 35 cars on the lead with this wave-around process thing that they've got going on. Man, that's tough -- especially, I mean you're always racing for points, but especially if you're racing for points late in the year, you're running fourth and you get a flat tire, then you lose a lap and you're running 40th, that's going to be pretty tough, that's going to separate the Chase a lot more, I think. When you get into that, if somebody does have a problem because there's so many cars on the lead lap, if you have a missed or two at the end, that could hurt. But, I think the double-file re-starts will be competitive. I think Jeff pretty much said it, I agree with everything he said. The middle of the race and stuff, I think it'll be cool. It'll be nice if you're are running up in the top 10 to be able to start closer to the front and not have to race lap cars. There's a lot of times where it's hard to get them guys because they're racing so hard to get their lap back and have got their own racing going on. Anyway, it will kind of create two races -- you'll see the race for the lead and you'll have all the lap cars back there trying to race each other and not be racing the leader for that Lucky Dog, which I think will be nice."
DO YOU THINK THE NEW RULE WILL HAVE AN EFFECT -- EITHER AN INCREASE OF DECREASE -- A RACE ENDING WITH TWO OR THREE CARS TRYING TO STRETCH FUEL AND COASTING ACROSS THE FINISH LINE OR CARS PITTING FOR A QUICK SPLASH OF FUEL? "I don't know. But I do know that if -- and maybe this wave-around thing won't work quite the way I think it will work -- but I think you're certainly going to call strategy different or take more or less risk if there's 10 or 15 cars on the lead lap compared to if there's 35 cars on the lead lap, so there certainly could be more gambling -- try to make it on fuel or tires or what-have-you -- because nobody's going to start 35th with 30 laps to go and win. I mean, Jimmie started last week,
"wherever, eighth or something with 30 to go, on better tires, was able to charge through there and win. He couldn't have made that call last week if they would've had that wave-around procedure, They would've had 30 cars on the lead lap, he wouldn't have been able to make that call. In my opinion, he wouldn't have been able to go through there and pass those cars and race that hard and pull it up there at the end. So, you're going to have to think about how many cars on the lead lap when you make your decisions."
IS THERE A CONCERN INSIDE ROUSH FENWAY RACING BECAUSE IT'S NOT RUNNING AS WELL AS IT DID AT THE END OF LAST YEAR? "I don't know about inside the organization. I think Carl was on top of his game at the end of the year, and I think Greg was running pretty good, but I don't know if I feel like us, as the 17, were really running much different than we are right now. Carl was able to put all of those wins together and doesn't quite have that, but we've got in front of maybe a couple of things -- the COT early; especially Carl's group, that gave them a little bit of an advantage that everybody kind of caught up to -- so, that's kind of the way it works. It's harder to find an advantage. But, certainly, I think the Hendrick cars, including the Stewart Haas cars, obviously are the guys to beat right now. If you're to win a race or have a chance at winning a race or a championship, you certainly have to go through all of those guys, there really isn't a weak one. They're pretty stout right now."
DAVID REUTIMANN EARLIER SAID THE RULE CHANGE WAS MADE BECAUSE OF THE FANS. DO YOU THINK THE ECONOMY HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THAT, THAT NASCAR IS BEING FORCED TO LISTEN MORE TO WHAT THE FANS WANT? "I don't know if it has anything to do with the economy, but I think basically everything NASCAR does is for the fans, with the exception of the safety stuff. Obviously, the better the show is and the tighter the competition is, I think everything they do, and really everything we do, we consider the fans because without the fans we couldn't race, we couldn't have sponsors that would pay us to race, we wouldn't have anything. I think that's always there consideration, and that doesn't mean that they're going to jump through hoops and do stuff if they don't think it's the right thing to do, but if they see something that's the right thing to do and think it will make better competition and get the fans more into it and more exciting racing, they're always going to try to look at that and do that."
-credit: ford racing