Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his Q&A sessions following Friday's only practice session. DO YOU THINK THIS CHASE IS COMPELLING? WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE? "It depends what you're after and depends what your...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, held his Q&A sessions following Friday's only practice session.
DO YOU THINK THIS CHASE IS COMPELLING? WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE? "It depends what you're after and depends what your expectation are and exactly what you're after. Me being a competitor and a fan for that matter, I want to see the driver-team, the whole combination that's done the best job, win the championship. That's what I want to see. I don't want to see somebody win the championship under an artificial system or something like one race. I think that over the last five or six years the 48 has been the best team and I think no matter what system you throw at them lately, they're gonna figure out how to win it. I think the best team should win it."
SO FIGURE OUT HOW TO ELIMINATE THE 48 FROM COMPETITION? "I've seen Super Bowls that were blowouts by 40 points and I've seen Super Bowls like last year that went down right to the end and was a real close game. That's just part of professional sports. Sometimes there are gonna be teams or a guy that gets on a roll and is gonna pull away. It gets that way in anything. Even if you have a seven-game series, some teams win it in the first four and the series is over. That's just kind of the way it is."
IS IT MORE KNEE-JERK REACTION FROM THE MEDIA THAT THINGS NEED TO CHANGE WHEN IT REALLY DOESN'T? "I think everybody wishes there could be a three-wide finish, almost a tie for the win every week, but it's just not realistic. Like I said, sometimes you're gonna have games or series or what we've got going on here, where somebody is gonna pull away and other times it's gonna be right down to the wire and you just don't know."
DO YOU SEE ANYWAY JIMMIE CAN'T WIN THIS? "If he shows up every week, I think he'll win it. I think it would be pretty tough not to, but anything can happen. He could fall out the first lap Sunday and you could have a race again, so you don't really know until it's over. Nobody has ever come from that far behind before, but there's always a first time, so you don't ever know until it's over, but he certainly is in a good spot."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE MANUFACTURER'S RACE? DOES IT MATTER? "It matters when you look at at the end of the year. I think for whatever manufacturer you're driving for, but, yet, there's not a lot you can do about it when you're out trying to finish the best you can every week. You'd like to see them end up with the manufacturers title, but there's really not a lot you can do outside of race as hard as you can."
HOW WAS PRACTICE? "It was fine. It was OK. I think it was productive as far as we found some things that I didn't like and lap times reflected what I didn't like. We found a couple things that I liked better to kind of find a direction to work in tomorrow, a direction that we probably don't want to work in and one that we do want to work in, so it was productive if we look at that. Our speeds for qualifying, I don't know, we were kind of middle of the road, so if we can get that a little better."
ARE YOU HAPPY TO QUALIFY THIS WEEK? "If you look over my numbers, if we can line up in the top 10 and not qualify, that's not a bad thing for us if you look at how we are historically, but, yeah, it's kind of weird on a Friday, it's not raining and I'm not laying on the couch in the motorhome, so it's kind of fun to get some practice in and go qualify."
WILL KYLE BUSCH'S SEASON BE JUST A FOOTNOTE BECAUSE OF HOW HIS CHASE HAS GONE? "Well, I think it depends on how he finishes the year, kind of, but, yeah, I would think if you asked him even though he's probably had one of the best years overall in history, not winning the title, I'm sure, will be a big disappointment for him with all the wins he had early in the year and how strong they looked. It looked like they were gonna be impossible to beat, but it's a really what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type sport. He won all those races and everybody was talking about him all year and now all of a sudden you haven't heard much about him the last few weeks. That's just how quickly it changes."
WHO DID YOU THING WAS THE TOUGHEST COMPETITION GOING INTO THE CHASE? "If you looked through probably every interview I've done for the last three years and asked me about championships, I've said the 48 has been the car to beat. I didn't think it was gonna be any different this year, to be honest with you. I'm not necessarily saying I thought they were gonna win it for sure, but I thought if you were gonna win it, or anybody else was gonna win it, they were gonna have to go through them. Gosh, look at what they've done since they got that team together. Look at what they did last year. Look at how good Jeff did and Jeff still didn't win it. To have an average finish of like fifth, that's just crazy. I think that would have won it any other year, ever, and still lost it. For some reason, they're just able to rise to the occasion and do better than everybody no matter how good everybody else does. It's pretty amazing."
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT INTANGIBLE IS? "It's never one thing. A team is never above one person, two people, one thing -- it's about the whole team. Ever since Rick put that deal together with Jimmie and Chad, it's just been kind of magic. It was kind of like when he put that deal together with Jeff and Ray Evernham and they just really couldn't be beat. They were beat once in a while, but they did amazing things. They won those championships and all those races and, really, this reminds me a lot of that. As soon as they put those two guys together with that group they were dominant."
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED TO KYLE AND THAT TEAM IN THE CHASE? "I don't have any idea. I've had so many problems to worry about myself that I don't have any idea even where he's ever finished, unless I'm racing right beside him I haven't any idea."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE KYLE'S SEASON? "Like I said, I really haven't paid attention to know what his problems were or what his strongsuits were. We've had enough going on with our own deal. I'll glance at the points after the race, but I don't really watch everyone of the top 12 guys and see what happened in that race or where they finished or how they did or what happened to them, so I don't really know."
WHAT ABOUT HIS REGULAR SEASON IN ONE WORD? "Dominant. He won the most races and probably led the most laps and he won pretty much everything he climbed in."
WHO IS THE NICEST DRIVER BESIDES YOURSELF? "Probably Mark Martin is the nicest guy in the garage. He's just friendly and approachable and honest. He's been really happy, especially the last 8-10 years, so he's just a fun guy to be around. He's easy to talk to and I've never seen him really give anybody the cold shoulder and not give somebody advice if they wanted it or not help somebody or any of that. He's just always been like that."
HOW TOUGH IS IT TO BE A PERSONALITY IN THIS SPORT? "I think everybody is in a different situation. I think if you're fortunate to be in Cup for awhile and you've got your sponsors happy and your car owner happy, you can't really be someone you're not to start with, but I think you learn very quickly to just be yourself. Obviously, there are certain things you have to do or places you've got to go that maybe aren't you or that you're not the most comfortable doing -- or comfortable in front of the camera, that kind of stuff that you have learn to do -- but I think, in general, just be yourself."
IS IT FAIR TO COMPARE YOU AND JIMMIE -- MORE RESERVED PERSONALITIES? "I don't know exactly how to answer that. I don't know if I'm really that much of a reserved person. At the track, it's business first and it's racing first. I might not be the guy clowning around or searching for the camera or doing some of this stuff. It's obvious some people just love a camera and think of ways to get on TV and to do things and whatever, and I'm not that guy but I think I am myself. I love racing and I love the competition and all that stuff and that's really what I concentrate on, and then I do the rest of the stuff that I need to do, but, for me, it's just always racing first and nonsense stuff second."
ARE THERE THINGS YOU DID IN YOUR TITLE RUN THAT THE 48 IS DOING? "It's really hard to compare every year and what's going on. They've been the dominant team since they put that team together. They didn't win it every year, but they're going on three straight and they've been the guys to beat. Even the year we won it, they were pretty dominant and I think it was just a little bit earlier in Jimmie's deal and maybe they had a couple of mistakes, I don't really remember. But they've been able to learn by all that and they just never really slip up. It just seems like everything they do works out."
HAS THIS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL SEASON FOR YOU? "Yes and no. I think with some of the changes with this car and changing our group around a little bit, I think it's been a fairly successful season. We made the chase, which, in turn, give you a chance to at least run for a championship, so there's that aspect of it. But there's still three weeks left and we haven't been to Victory Lane yet, so that's very disappointing. We're out of the championship hunt, which is very disappointing. We'd like to be a little more consistent. I don't really write down goals because our goal is to try to win a championship and try to be the best and try to win races. We go to the track every week to try to win, so it's really a pretty simple goal. We don't have to write it down."
THOUGHTS ON HOMESTEAD COMING UP. "The track is pretty cool. We actually just worked on our Homestead stuff the other day and we're trying to compare it to somewhere and you really can't. It's really unique with the way it's built right now and the way the banking is and the elevation changes and all that stuff, so it's pretty cool. They did a great job and spent the money and did the research and they weren't scared to go out on a limb and build it like no other track. I think the racing is really exciting there. There are a lot of different lanes you can look for. It's a lot of fun. I think the racing there is as good as anywhere now."
-credit: ford racing