Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, leads the series point standings with three races remaining. Kenseth spoke about his 26-point lead over Jimmie Johnson just before qualifying on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. MATT KENSETH...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, leads the series point standings with three races remaining. Kenseth spoke about his 26-point lead over Jimmie Johnson just before qualifying on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
WHAT ABOUT THE BUMP IN ONE AND TWO? "Is there a bump down there? (laughter) "It's the same that it's been the whole time. It's fine. I'm the last guy who is gonna complain about bumps because I don't want them to repave it and have it be single-groove again. It widens out. There's a pretty big bump down there, but I don't think it's any bigger than last time. I notice the one in three and four. I didn't remember that being there last time, but that's the one I notice. I didn't notice the one in one and two being any different."
MARK SAYS THERE'S NO SUSPENSION GOING THROUGH ONE AND TWO. "Yeah, but it's the same for everybody. If they could fix the bumps, that would be great, but I sure wouldn't want them to repave the whole track. That's the way this place is for some reason. It settles around and I think that's why they've repaved it so many times as they have just because the track moves around a little bit. It's all right. It's the same for everybody. We all have to run through it."
YOU DESCIRBED YOUR CHASE AS SLOPPY A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. DID LAST WEEK HELP YOUR CONFIDENCE? "I always knew that we're capable, but I certainly have a little bit more confidence after last week just because we performed pretty well - not quite as good as the 20 and the 48 and even the 8 car, really, but we performed pretty good. We were a top five or top sevenish car most of the day and got a good finish out of it and this weekend, so far, we've been running OK, so I feel good about it, but we've got to go out and lead laps. You're gonna have to be a contender to win to be able to pull it off. The 48 and them guys are just too good. You're not gonna finish eighth and win it. You're gonna have to go out and lead laps and be a contender to try to win and that's what we're gonna try to do and, hopefully, get our stuff to run good enough to do that."
HOW INTENSE WILL THE NEXT THREE RACES BE? "Just as intense as every other week has been this year. Every race, in my opinion, is about the same. They're all intense. You're out trying to win every week and you're racing against 42 other teams and everybody's out there that's hungry for wins and good finishes, so I think it will be as intense as it always is."
HOW MUCH MORE NERVEWRACKING IS THIS THAN WHEN YOU WON THE TITLE BEFORE? "So far it's really not at all, really. So far, 2003 has probably been the most stressful year I've probably had in racing besides 2001 when we just ran so bad, but even though it seemed like we had a big lead there every week counting toward the championship, where this year we were pretty solidly in the top 10 most of the first 26 races, so we weren't really stressed too much about missing the chase and that kind of helped us focus on cars and everything. It hasn't been too bad. Our team has been performing great this year. I feel like we've got a good shot at it, but anything can happen. We've got to go out and do the job every week and go out and run as hard as we can and see where it stacks up." IS THE 48 THE TEAM TO WATCH? "Right now you would say yes because of how he's run the last three races. I think he's run first or second every week for three weeks, so right now you'd say yes, but that can change after Sunday. As we've seen, it's changed almost every week of the chase as far as who it seemed like the guy was. Kevin won the first race and then it looked like Burton was the guy and then he blew up and had troubles, so any of us can have trouble at any time. You don't really know who the guy is, I don't think, until you get down to the last race."
YOU SEEM VERY CALM ABOUT ALL OF THIS? "Being worked up about it isn't gonna make us more productive or make us run better or make anything go better, so you've just got to go and do everything that we've done all year and that we always try to do every week and that's to try to lead laps and try to win races and collect as many points as we can and hope our pile is bigger than the next guys."
HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "I love coming here to Texas. It's a great track. It's really widened out the last couple of years. I think the last few races were great. The track got really wide and you could pass from all sides and that's something that we didn't used to have here right after they made it, so I think the racing with these cars has been really good all year. I feel like there have been multiple grooves everywhere, even tracks where it usually hasn't been like Kansas and Chicago and places like that. So right now I think the racing is pretty good."
IS THIS PLACE VERY DIFFERENT FROM WHEN YOU WON HERE? "It's not as different as what the cars are and their setups and the rules and the stuff we learn. That's the biggest thing. That changes each and every time you come to a track it seems like. I don't think the track is really that much different."
WOULD WINNING A TITLE THIS YEAR BE VINDICATION TO WINNING IN 2003? "I don't know. We've got to do it first and then I guess I would think about it. I'm thankful we won it the year we won it, for sure, the way everybody else did for the last 30 years or more before that. I think that was pretty cool and I haven't even thought about it. You've got to do the work first and then think about it."
ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO RALLY THE TROOPS LATELY? "Not really. We haven't really needed to be rallied, really. There were some mistakes that we were making that certainly had to be addressed and get everybody to make sure we all take care of our own jobs. Some of that has been addressed and some of the mistakes that we made the last few weeks on the car and stuff like that, but, other than that, everybody has been pretty much business as usual."
HOW TOUGH HAS THIS SEASON BEEN ON ROBBIE? "Honestly, I think this is probably about the happiest and less stressed as I've ever seen Robbie, to be honest with you. I think last year was a super, super tough year on Robbie with his dad and everything else going on, and this year he's seemed to me anyways to be more relaxed and more content and happy to be doing the job and everybody is getting along probably more than any other year I remember in a long time."
HOW MUCH WILL THIS TITLE BE DECIDED BETWEEN DRIVERS AND WHAT YOU GUYS ARE DOING BEHIND THE WHEEL? "It all depends. Obviously, the driver is a big part of it but you can't do it without the equipment. It's everybody. It's a team effort, it really is, and everybody has to do their jobs. I can't put it on top of the tires like I did at Dover a couple of years ago. You can't do something like that, but you also have to have the car to be able to compete. You can't go out there and you just have to go out and do the things you know how to do. You can't go out there and ride around in 20th and say, 'Oh, I'm not gonna make a mistake. I'm gonna ride around 20th and finish there.' That's not gonna get you points, so you've got to go out and go as hard as you can go and try to get the best finish you can."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE ROLL BAR SITUATION AND NASCAR'S RESPONSE? "I think it was a good response. You've got to do something. You can't just have people create cautions whenever they need them. We already have a lot of cautions that a lot of times you don't know why you have them, so we certainly don't need more of them."
-credit: ford racing