Matt Kenseth won his series-leading fourth race of 2002 this evening and gave Ford it's series-high ninth victory of the year. Kenseth, who posted his other wins came at Rockingham, Texas and Michigan (June race), now has five career...
Matt Kenseth won his series-leading fourth race of 2002 this evening and gave Ford it's series-high ninth victory of the year. Kenseth, who posted his other wins came at Rockingham, Texas and Michigan (June race), now has five career NASCAR Winston Cup Series triumphs.
Kenseth's win also enabled Ford to extend it's already commanding lead in the manufacturer's point standings to 27 points over second-place Chevrolet with only 10 races remaining. Ford has 175 points compared to 150 for Chevrolet, 131 for Dodge and 116 for Pontiac.
The win also represented the 532nd all-time series win for Ford, which is the most for any manufacturer in NASCAR Winston Cup.
MATT KENSETH --17-- DEWALT Power Tools Taurus
"I don't know where to start. In our first run real early, we had a right-front tire go down and we had to pit under green. A cap came off and it was flopping and I didn't know if it tore anything up, but, anyway, they pulled the yellow out because we were losing a lot of debris and got a lap down or whatever. After that, we came in and made that up and we were running real good, catching the leaders, and came all the way back to the top 10. And then we had another one go down under green and that had only like 60 laps, so I was pretty concerned about that. We got quite a ways behind, but through green-flag pit stops and because there wasn't a caution we were able to get our lap back and get back in sequence."
HOW WAS IT COMING THROUGH TRAFFIC? "The race track was in great shape. It took about 50 or 60 laps and the outside groove really came in. It seemed like I was one of the earlier ones to the outside groove and that was a big advantage. Once we got our lap back, I had to start in the back and I used the outside groove a lot. A lot of people were still trying to run the bottom and I was able to get up around a lot of people that way before a lot of people started running up there."
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT ANYONE CATCHING YOU? "No, not really. I was more worried about having another flat tire. I thought maybe we had too much camber in the car or were too aggressive on our setup and I was real worried about losing another right-front tire. We put some air in there because I thought maybe we were too low on air and Goodyear told us to do that. We put that in there and that must have been the problem because after that we didn't have one, but my biggest concern was just losing another right-front tire. Once we were in the lead and got a couple second lead, I knew that our car was good enough to hold everybody off. It was real fast, I was just trying to go as fast as everybody else was going so I didn't lose another tire."
OVERVIEW OF THE SEASON. "It's been up and down, but mostly up. I mean, our performance has been really awesome. Our whole DEWALT team has done a great job. We've been championship caliber as far as performance goes. We've been as good as anybody almost every single week, we've just been inconsistent. I've made a lot of mistakes, like last weekend and Watkins Glen and that cost us a lot of points. We've had some things break that has cost us points and have probably done some things wrong that has cost us points. I wish we were farther up in the points, but I would still trade all of that for having four wins. Our performance has been so great and it feels so good to run that good, especially after the year I had last year."
DID YOU FIGURE OUT THE TIRES? "I personally think it was a combination of things. I think we were probably a little too aggressive on our setup with a few different things in our setup. When Goodyear looked at it during the race, according to Robbie, they said they thought we were too low on air-pressure, which is the same air-pressure we've always run here, but that doesn't mean it's right this time. We went up, I think, three or four pounds on the air all the way around the car and after that we didn't really have a problem. I don't know if I believe that was 100 percent of it or not, but when we did that it did fix it and we ran 120 laps at the end of the race, whereas early in the race we could only run 50 laps."
ANY FUEL CONCERNS? "I would be lying if I didn't say I had any concerns, but it was very minimal. I was more concerned about the right-front tire to tell you truth. That's all I kept thinking about that whole run. Fuel, they told me I was within five laps and five laps at a three-quarter mile race track, when you have a two-and-a-half-second lead, it's pretty easy to save fuel. If we had been racing Ryan side-by-side and running really hard fighting for the win, it would have been much more difficult to save fuel. But once we got that big of a lead, I started letting off the gas earlier and earlier and using less and less brake and just letting the car coast and being real easy on and off the gas. I figured we would probably have enough. It seems like our calculations have been pretty conservative all year. We've always had more gas left than we thought we had left everytime we'd pit, so I kind of had that in the back of my head and thought we'd be OK."
COMING FROM DEEP IN THE FIELD TWICE. "We had a good car both times. In the spring it probably wasn't quite as good as this one was, but, yeah, in the spring we had troubles that were kind of self-induced. I kind of tried to get my way to the bottom and cut off, I don't remember who it was, Steve Park or somebody, and bent my exhaust and all that stuff. It took us two or three laps to fix it and we were able to make it all back up and come from the back and finish sixth. That was a good run, but that car wasn't quite as fast as this one was because this one could pass everybody and with that one, once I got to sixth I kind of stalled out a little bit. If you have to come from behind, this is a pretty good track to do it at. It's great for side by side racing. If your car is faster than the guy in front of you, you can pass. They can make it difficult on you if they're on the outside, but you can get around them."
WAS IT HARD TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON AT ONE POINT WHEN THINGS GOT OUT OF SEQUENCE? "When they had that one restart when, I don't know, there had to be 20 cars trying to get their laps back or something like that. It was kind of like the start of the race again and I was starting 20th. It was kind of weird. Yeah, it's somewhat hard to follow, especially for me when I had that flat tire and I pitted under green and I knew I was two laps down. Then everybody else pitted, except for the 15 and them, but I passed him twice on the race track so it was kind of hard to figure out. I guess once I saw the 15 was the leader, I got my lap back that one time -- which I barely got it back -- after that I was the last car on the lead lap. Well, they opened the pits right away and almost everybody missed pit road and didn't know it was open. So I pitted and came back out and I was like in fifth place. It was kind of strange. I gained probably 10 spots because of people missing pit road -- people like Mark and Stewart and some of those guys might have missed it because I never even really had to race by them guys. It was a little bit strange."
WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE? "At New Hampshire we did everything right last time. We'll have the same car. We didn't do anything but paint it and we had a car almost as dominant as what we had tonight, so I feel real good about going back to New Hampshire. At Dover, we won our first pole at Dover and had a good car and had some tire problems there too, maybe being a little too aggressive with our setup -- I'm not sure. So I feel real good about both of those tracks. Loudon and some of the short tracks used to be our weak point and this year they've been our strong point with some of the new cars that we built. I'm real confident going into Loudon next week. Dover has always been my favorite race track since I ran my first Winston Cup race there in '98 for Bill (Elliott). I just love going to that place, so we've got a lot of good tracks left.
"We've got ourselves a long ways out of the points, mostly because of mistakes I've made along the way and maybe some things we haven't done right, and broken some parts and stuff like that, so I haven't really been thinking about the points because we are back as far as we are. I've just been trying to think about running good like this and win races. I feel real good about all the tracks coming up to the rest of the year, except Talladega. I feel good about everything except for that."
WHAT'S THE SECRET TO YOUR SHORT TRACK SUCCESS? "If I had one I certainly wouldn't tell. I don't really exactly know. For New Hampshire, Richmond, here -- probably even Martinsville -- I guess we built some different cars this year that are a little bit better on flat tracks than what we've had in the past. It's kind of something we stumbled on last year and we started to build a few of those cars even for Indy and for all of the flatter tracks. So I think that's helped our flat track program a whole bunch. Bristol and here the first race was just an older car of ours that works pretty good for us. So I don't really know if there's some sort of magic or something special that we're doing, it just seems like we ran pretty good at 'em and we've been there at the end."
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO SEE THE GUYS AT THE TOP NOT TAKING CHARGE OF THE POINTS? "Sure you do think about it, but as competitive as Winston Cup is today, there's nothing frustrating about having four wins with 10 races to go. That's awesome. That's hard to do anymore. If you look over the last couple of years I think since Jeff used to win 10 races a year and when Mark was winning six or seven, since then, it's been harder to have more multiple winners just because the competition is so great. So that does feel good. But, yeah, I look at it sometimes. Like last week, I wrecked the car myself at Darlington. I look at that and think besides missing the setup, I go wreck the car and, yeah, that makes you feel bad and that frustrates you a little bit, but, overall, it's been a great year."