Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, remained in 12th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after last weekend's 17th-place finish at Talladega. Kenseth held his weekly Q&A session after practice on Friday ...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, remained in 12th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after last weekend's 17th-place finish at Talladega. Kenseth held his weekly Q&A session after practice on Friday afternoon.
HOW IS YOUR CAR? "The practice session was OK. I guess we got it better. The first practice wasn't very good and we were able to get it a little better there. I'm not sure where we are for qualifying. We seemed to get it a little bit better, so, hopefully, we can improve on it a little bit."
HOW ARE YOU FEELING AFTER THE WRECK? "I feel good. I felt fine to go race the next day. I felt fine that night. I was good. I didn't really hit anything very hard. It kind of looked spectacular. I'm glad it landed on its wheels because it would have been tough to get out there, but it never really hit anything very hard. I mean, those guys that hit the wall hard where you blow a right-front or that type of deal always hurts a lot worse."
DID YOU TALK TO GORDON ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CUP RACE? "Not yet. From my perspective, what I saw, me and Jeff were going up the middle the whole time and we were working together. He was hitting me real hard and pushing me real hard and we were halfway down the backstretch and I cleared the guy on the bottom. Me and Jeff were in the middle and there was somebody outside of Jeff and, to be honest with you, I was looking forward and I felt my car slow down, so I looked up to the right rear and Jeff was about an inch off my quarterpanel. He must have decided to pass me, which, technically almost made us four-wide, although there was nobody on the bottom at that instant. So we were three wide, but the whole time we were in the middle and there was only room for one more up there. I never moved the wheel. I kept going straight and then I was just ready to turn down in the corner and give him extra room and let him be in the middle and I was gonna be on the bottom and the spotter said, 'Inside,' so I looked to the inside and there was a car in there, so I had to move up a little bit for that car and he was just so close to me trying to get the air off my side when I moved up those few inches that he hit me in the right rear and when he did my car shot right because if you hit somebody back there, it's gonna move the car that way and we just ran out of room. The 71, I don't think, knew we were four-wide. I don't think Jeff knew we were four-wide, so I moved up to be the second guy in line and he was more thinking he was the third guy in line and we just all ran out of room. If the 71 would have known it, he would have been up higher and Jeff would have been closer to the 71 and we would have had enough room to get through there, but to go in there four-wide that early, there wasn't enough room to all get through there without touching each other and you don't need much of a touch to start it all off."
JACK GAVE YOU THE NATIONWIDE CAR. "He said, 'You can have that piece of junk.' Those were his exact words. I'll take it."
ANYTHING TO KEEP THE CARS OUT OF THE AIR? "In the Nationwide thing, if I wouldn't have got hit so hard from behind and had the rear tires off the ground, I would have never spun out and the car would have never went in the air. I think if the car that hit me, the 6 car, would have used his head a little bit we wouldn't have crashed. And, also, when I did get turned back to the inside, if I would have kept it left and let it spin out, it might not have gotten the air but it was gonna hit the inside wall real hard, so, really, what happened is when I tried to catch it, it went back the other way and got air underneath the left rear and flipped it over. Really, when you're going that fast, if you get backwards, there's a pretty good chance you're gonna get airborne."
WHAT'S THE MOST SURPRISING THING TO HAPPEN SINCE THE FIRST TWO RACES? "Just how hard we've struggled. We've been really far off at a lot of places. Some other places we've been pretty good and just had dumb, bad luck. Last week I kind of got ran into under caution and got a flat tire with eight laps to go while we were running second. When we have run decent and put ourselves in position, we've had other problems. We've had pit road problems and stuff like that, which is very uncharacteristic for our team and kind of surprising, and when we haven't had any problems on pit road and things have gone smooth, we haven't run good enough to be a contender since week two, so it's been a little frustrating."
DOES DAYTONA AND CALIFORNIA SEEM LIKE A YEAR AGO? "Yeah, actually. It does seem like a long time ago."
HOW HAS TIRE TESTING AT INDY GONE? "Just been doing laps. It seems like we still have some work to do up there."
THEY RUBBERED IT IN AND THEN THE TIRES BLISTERED. DO YOU ENVISION THEM BRINGING TWO DIFFERENT TIRES? "I hope not. That would be a little bit tough to probably police and tough to watch and tough to set your car up around two different tires. They've been working really hard and I'm sure they'll come up with some type of solution, but it's been a challenge. The soft tires rubber the track up, but then they blister when you get running too fast. For some reason, the hard tires don't have enough stick to them and they don't stick to the track and they just turn into dust. So it's been a little bit of a struggle. I'm not a tire engineer. I'm sure they might have something right now that will run a fuel run, I don't know -- just looking at the stuff that we've been putting on and off our cars. They've been working hard at it and we've been working hard at it, too, trying to help them."
WHERE CAN YOUR TEAM GAIN GROUND? "I think at most tracks out performance has been off a little bit, so I think it always starts with performance. When your performance is good or above average, it makes the rest of it a little easier. When your performance is above average, you can afford to maybe slip up a little on pit road or maybe not get in your pit stall exactly like or a flat tire and still recover from it. But when your performance is average at best, you have to be absolutely perfect on pit road, getting on and off pit road and on the track -- all that stuff -- to get any kind of good finish out of it. Our performance has been average at best and our performance on pit road and the rest of that hasn't, overall, been very good the last month or month-and-a-half either. So that combination, that's why you run 25th and 27th and 24th. You've got to have it all going on."
WHY HASN'T CALIFORNIA CARRIED OVER MORE? "I don't know. Probably the closest thing to California that we've been to so far is Texas and, as a group, we all ran really good at Texas. We just had those lugnut problems. Greg had by far the fastest car there and should have won the race easily on performance, and we probably had a top three or four car and still finished fifth, so I thought our stuff at Texas actually ran pretty good."
WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO CHANGE AT TALLADEGA IF ANYTHING? "I don't have any idea. I'm not an engineer. I've got my hands full trying to make these cars go fast and get good finishes. I don't have any idea. It hasn't been a hot topic the last two or three years because there hasn't been any super-major bad wrecks. There have been a lot of multi-car wrecks, but compared to the Talladega of old they've been somewhat mild, so that conversation hasn't come up. But even before I started doing this Cup deal in 2000, it's been 10 years, every year twice a year we'd have this same discussion we're having right now. There would be people flying on their lids and flipping over and all kinds of crazy wrecks going on and you'd have this conversation everytime at least twice a year, maybe four times, talking before the race and after it about the big one and how you could prevent it and how you could make the racing different so it's not like that. But the bottom line is fans love to see it and there's great ratings for this stuff. I'm not saying they like to see the bad wrecks, but they like to see the action at Talladega."
DO YOU AGREE WITH CARL'S POST-RACE COMMENTS? "I think that's a natural reaction after you go into the wall at 200 miles an hour or upside-down in the fence and almost in the stands, so I think that's probably what everybody would say. And I've heard that quote a lot of times leaving Talladega, maybe not the last three or four years, but if you go back in the archives, I'm sure you could find that quote a lot of times from a lot of different drivers. It's just part of that kind of racing. Yeah, we've got to keep trying to make it safer and try to keep the cars on the ground, but it's part of that kind of racing. When you put all of those cars together in a big wad and the way the rules are and all that stuff, you're gonna have accidents now and then."
IS THERE FRUSTRATION AT THIS TRACK? "My car hasn't been as bad today. We seem to have made a little headway on it, but whenever you don't run good, if you're competitive, you're gonna be frustrated. We've been awful, since really California, so, yeah, that's frustrating."
HOW HAD DREW HANDLED THIS ADVERSITY? "He's been working at it. He's been working hard and everybody has been working together and trying to make stuff better. We realized it wasn't gonna be like it was the first couple of weeks. We realized it wasn't gonna carry on like that all the time. Things just don't go that smooth all the time, but we probably didn't realize it was gonna be this difficult to get some consistency back, either."
-credit: ford racing