Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is in 11th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this weekend's race at Watkins Glen. Kenseth, who opened this season with back-to-back wins at Daytona and Fontana, met...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, is in 11th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this weekend's race at Watkins Glen. Kenseth, who opened this season with back-to-back wins at Daytona and Fontana, met with the media before Friday's practice session.
DO YOU HAVE A GAME PLAN SET FOR THE NEXT FIVE RACES BEFORE THE CHASE? "Really, just go racing and get the best finish we can every week. That's what we always try to do, really, and even though we're close to the cutoff I don't really think there's anything we can do different. Actually, the last two weeks, we got 10th and 11th; that's the best we've done, really, in a long time. To our standards, that's not near good enough, but that's the best we've done in a long time. We've just got to keep trying to build on that. If we could run in the top 10 and finish in the top 10, we'll probably be close to making it. But, if you look at last week, all he guys that are fighting for it were right up there, with the exception of one or two."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE TEAM IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION NOW? "I feel like we're a little bit better, but it's not where we want to be. I mean we haven't been a legitimate contender to win a race in a long time, and I know this team is capable of winning races. We want to get back to that point, but, certainly, we need to walk before we can run."
IS THIS RACE STILL A WILD-CARD RACE? "Not really. There was a time where I could pick out races and say, 'Okay, this is a race that's kind of a wild-card; this one's not,' but, to be honest with you, it's so competitive today and these cars are so close to the same speed -- we went to Michigan, for instance, and Chicago, and I always feel like those are some of our best tracks for this team, those are places where we've won races and been in contention to win, and we ran, like, 20th and 23rd, or something. We just ran terrible. You just never know. You take it one week at a time. You just don't know what's going to happen. The competition is just so tight. You might go to one of your places that you think you're really weak at, and have one of your best runs."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WATKINS GLEN AND SONOMA? "I always compare Sonoma to Martinsville, and Watkins Glen to Michigan. It's just a lot faster of a road course -- you've got a lot more momentum, a lot more room to work, a little bit more room for error, probably one more passing zone, at least, than there is at Sears Point. I think this track is a lot more friendly for these types of cars, and has the potential to put on a lot better race."
SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO FIGURE OUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO GET BETTER? "That's a good question. We've just got to keep working on it. It starts with engineering. These cars are a lot different than our old cars, more technical, with the bump stops and the things that they let us run. And there's not a lot we can do aero-wise or any of that. So, it starts with engineering. I know they have been working really hard trying to find some stuff to make us run better. But, as a group, we just haven't run as good.
"We've just got to the best we can and control the 17, and at Roush and Yates we're all given the same stuff ; we've got to figure out how to do it better than the rest, and figure out how to finish in front of those guys. I my opinion, we've all been off a little bit. We've just to keep working hard and try to get better, and keep trying to figure out whatever it is."
HOW MUCH IMPROVEMENT HAS TO GO ON AWAY FROM THE TRACK, AND HOW MUCH HAS TO GONE ON AT THE TRACK? "There's not a lot of places you can go track testing anymore with the rules, which is okay, but we've been trying to go to some places, maybe, that we can go within the rules and do a little bit of track testing. I'm not sure how much that helps or not. You've just got to use the tools that you have, and just keeping working on it and try to figure it out."
WITH THIS TRACK BEING A LITTLE WIDER THAN SONOMA, HOW WILL THAT AFFECT THE DOUBLE-FILE RE-STARTS? "It'll be crazier, getting into one, because it will be two- and three-wide, and maybe four-wide. And it used to be like that, even with single-file -- guys would lay back and be in there two- and three-wide, so you're certainly going to have to watch a couplke of corners until you get to the top of the hill, and hopefully it will be single-file, but there is a lot more room. It is a little more forgiving because they paved all that area instead of having that gravel pit down there, to give a little bit more room for a mistake or somebody gets sideways or what have you. One thing about Sears Point that I noticed is they ran side-by-side for most of the lap, which is weird because you thought, okay, double-file re-starts, as soon as you get to the second or third corner you have to be single-file at a road course, but at Sonoma I saw people still two-wide in the esses. I think you'll see a lot of that. It'll be pretty exciting for the first two laps, at least."
-credit: ford racing