Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, won't have the same car he won the Daytona 500 with in February since that's parked inside the Daytona 500 Experience. Kenseth spoke about returning to restrictor plate racing before ...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, won't have the same car he won the Daytona 500 with in February since that's parked inside the Daytona 500 Experience. Kenseth spoke about returning to restrictor plate racing before Friday's first practice at Talladega Superspeedway.
DOES IT MATTER THAT YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR DAYTONA CAR OR ARE THEY ALL SO CLOSE IT DOESN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. "I don't think it really matters. If it was the old cars that were much more specialized, it would probably make a difference, but, really, with these cars the rules are so tight there's very little we can work on and it really shouldn't be a problem duplicating the car. They're all pretty close."
WHAT DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT INDY? "I think there's some work to do. I'm not really sure what they all do or bring. I know when we tested last October, they had a tire that was a little faster than they'd like, but it wore really good. We actually ran 30 laps -- a full fuel run on it -- and they didn't bring that back. They brought a different tire back this time when we tested that was a lot like last year's tire, it would wear to the cords in 12 laps, so I know they can do because we had some stuff last October we tested, so I'm sure they'll probably try to come back with something like that."
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC OR CONCERNED NOW? "I'm not really an expert on tires. I was optimistic after October's test that they kind of knew what they did wrong and they found a tire that was soft enough where it would rubber the track up and work and all that. Now this Wednesday I didn't see that tire. We ran a tire that acted a lot like we were there last time that turned into dust and didn't really rubber the track up and wore out in 10 or 12 laps, so the stuff we had last October seemed pretty good. They're gonna go back to work and I think we're actually going back this week for a day to try some more stuff, so I'm sure they'll get it."
ARE YOU GOING BACK? "I believe so. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I believe so."
MENTALLY, HOW DIFFERENT IS YOUR APPROACH AT A RACE LIKE THIS COMPARED TO PHOENIX? "It's totally different. This race and Daytona are somewhat similar, but, really, these races at Talladega are really all by themselves. It's a lot more mental than physical, or getting your car to handle, it's more about the draft and being in the right place at the right time and not being in the wrong place and not being caught up in a wreck like it seems like we usually are. So, yeah, it's a lot different but you just go out there and try to make the best decisions you can, and I guess try not to be the guy who causes a wreck. If everybody thinks like that, there wouldn't be a wreck usually, so just kind of go out with that mindset."
DOES DAYTONA GIVE YOU ANYMORE CONFIDENCE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER WHEN YOU COME HERE? "Not really much, maybe a very, very small amount, but not much. It's a different race than this one is. It's a lot about handling and the track is a fair amount different than what this one is now, so it never hurts but it probably doesn't mean a lot."
WHERE DO YOU GET CONFIDENCE FOR A PLACE LIKE THIS? "Everybody tries to analyze it and come up with different plans. Some people lay back and do all that stuff, I'm just gonna try to go race. You just never know where the safe spot is. You could hang out in the back and get caught up in something. Last year we were all the way up to second place behind Stewart, who won it, and that was when Carl and Greg got together and we collected in it and we were running second. So you just don't know what's gonna happen. You just have to do the best you can with your car, try not to make that bad move, try not to be the guy who causes the wreck and just go from there -- try to be in position for the end."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RICHMOND? "Three-wide might be pushing it a little bit, but it definitely a track you can run side-by-side on and that you can pass really well. I think everybody enjoys going to Richmond -- fans, drivers, crews, everybody does, but, for us, we've struggled there since they've gone to this car. We haven't figured it out and we didn't run good at Phoenix, so we've been working really hard this week and next week to bring something there that will be competitive."
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ALL-STAR MEMORY? "When we won it. That's my favorite memory when we passed Newman right at the end of that race to win it. We were having a pretty good battle and to be able to pull it off was pretty cool."
WHEN IS THE PROPER TIME TO GET ON YOUR CREW OVER THE RADIO? "I think every situation is different and you don't always know whether people are listening. The more we get the fans involved and the more things we've got going on, obviously, is better for the sport and it's better to grow the sport. But when we started radio communications, it was between basically the driver, the crew chief and the spotter. The crew could hear, but they wouldn't really talk. That's the way a lot of us still think about it because that's how it always used to be and a lot of times you'll forget that other people are listening to every word and judging you. I hear there's a TV show, I've never watched it, but I hear there's a TV show that does the last 10 minutes every week of just eavesdropping on people's radio and throwing it on TV. I know I've been a victim of media eavesdropping and taking pieces of a conversation and put it on TV and it wasn't even what we were talking about. I think a lot less is probably said on the radio than it used to be just because a lot of us don't even feel like you can be yourself because there are so many people listening. There are also things that are said in the heat of the moment. You're out there trying to be competitive and racing hard and doing all that stuff and a lot of times you'll say things and not really be thinking about everybody else who is listening."
IS THERE A RIGHT TIME TO GET AFTER THEM? "I don't know. That's kind of why you have a crew chief. He's the head of the crew and they're down there on the box with the crew and they know what's going on and you really don't, so there are gonna be times where you express your frustrations and times you'll say things, but does that really help? Probably not."
HAVE YOU EVER SAID ANYTHING YOU REGRET? "I don't know that I've ever said anything that bad. Not really. They get a lot of praise when things go right and when they win races for me and when things don't go right, they know that they've got to work on it and they're smart enough to be able to figure that out. They don't really ridicule everything I do on the track, so I try not to do that to them either as long as they're working as hard as they can at it."
WHAT KIND OF POTENTIAL DOES DAVID RAGAN HAVE? "David's run really well since he came in. Being with Jimmy is a huge advantage, being with the team that he's with and having all that experience is a huge advantage, but David has been able to adapt really quick. He's come out of the Legends cars and has been able to get right in stock cars and be competitive."
WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE AFTER A RACE, ESPECIALLY LIKE THIS ONE? "Every race is different, to be honest with you. The weather has a lot to do with it. Whether you wreck or how hard you wreck has a lot to do with it. It just depends. Every race is different."
IS THIS ENJOYABLE BECAUSE IT'S MORE OF A CHESS MATCH? "It can be. There are times when it can be very enjoyable and there are times it can be very aggravating. Really, it depends. If you have a really fast car and you're the guy up there going for the lead, it's really enjoyable. When you're stuck in the middle of the pack and they're three-wide and everybody's pounding on each other and you're watching the wreck happen, it's really not that much fun."
HOW MUCH CONTACT IS THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK? "Whatever you see on TV, probably. You get some bump drafting here and there, but in the middle of the pack there's probably less contact than there is if you get single-file. It's hard to push someone or be pushed when you're right up against someone, so, hopefully, there's not a lot when you're in the middle."
-credit: ford racing