MATT KENSETH -17-Weight Smart Ford Taurus (Finished 1st) RECAP THE RACE. "We started the race reasonable; we ran OK. I really wanted to try two tires on that pit stop on lap 35 because there weren't that many green-flag laps on the tires and...
MATT KENSETH -17-Weight Smart Ford Taurus (Finished 1st)
RECAP THE RACE.
"We started the race reasonable; we ran OK. I really wanted to try two tires on that pit stop on lap 35 because there weren't that many green-flag laps on the tires and I figured that was a good time to try it and see what it'd be like. I wanted to see what clean air was like. We tried that and it didn't work great, but it didn't work bad; we dropped back to fifth and I think we came into the pits in eighth. It wasn't the end of the world and it wasn't great. We fell back on the next pit stop. We made some big adjustments. The track got real tight and our car got real tight along with the track, and we made some real big adjustments and lost some time on pit road, but made the proper adjustments on the last stop. We broke even in the pits on the last stop and Cully made some good adjustments on the car, some big adjustments and got the car to handle like we needed to at the end. Along with that we had to make the outside groove work. It was hard to pass if you followed somebody because you'd be so aero tight, so if somebody was running the bottom you had to try to run the top, or vice-versa to get some clean air on the nose. This is the best shape that this track has ever been in since I've raced here as far as being able to run side by side. I think that's pretty encouraging for tomorrow."
WAS IT YOUR CALL TO TAKE TWO TIRES ON THE EARLY PIT STOP?
"Yeah, I don't think they wanted to; I just wanted tot try it. I was just curious. We've got this new tire and everything this year. We were running OK, but we were running seventh or eighth and it was real tough to pass, and I wanted to see if we put two on and got up front and got some clean air on the nose if it'd stay up front. And, it did what we wanted for a while; it just ended up being a longer run than we wished it was. It did what we wanted for a while, and it was interesting to see that because we could get a better read on tire wear and kinda see what was going on."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT TEXAS THAT ALLOWS YOUR TEAMS TO EXCEL?
"Well, the first time we came here, Jeff Burton won his first race in the Cup Series. It was an odd race track configuration at that time with one groove coming off of four, and I thought Jeff was just weird enough that he could do that and other people wouldn't. We've had good luck at Las Vegas and good luck here for being first-time events, and, also at Loudon, New Hampshire. We've really enjoyed bringing our notes together with the guys meeting on what they thought the new race track would take, and they've generally hit it pretty good. Like here and some other places, we've gone through kind of a dry spell where we haven't been able to win when everybody else has figured out. Today, Matt was clearly the man of the hour. He and Cully got a middle-of-the-road race car setup that was able to be adjustable and they did better than most, obviously, at meeting the challenges of the race track with it not wanting to turn in the middle. Having great notes with people who want to work together that are talented with a lot of experience has done us very proud here."
HOW DOES A BUSCH SERIES WIN HERE HELP YOUR OVERALL CONFIDENCE?
"It always feels good to win. The Busch Series is very competitive. There are a lot of great teams and drivers there to beat today. It's a big morale boost for everybody on the Busch team. We have a lot of going on over there with running three teams out of that shop. We got started a little bit late and the guys have had to work really hard. When the guys stay in the shop and work all winter long, especially when we do a part-time schedule and this is only our second time to the track with this group of guys; Daytona was the first time. Whenever they're in the shop that long and working that hard, when they can win, that really means a lot to those guys and puts some wind in their sails and keeps them happy. I think when workers are happy they work better. It's good for those guys and it's good for us because the rules are so similar. We're on the same tire and the cars are more the same weight. They do relate somewhat to the Cup car, so it's good to get the extra experience on the track when you come here and only run once a year."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY THAT WILL HELP YOU TOMORROW?
"I don't know that for sure. I guess the biggest thing is the track changed a lot today and there was an outside groove if your car was working right. If your car wasn't working right, you couldn't run on the outside, but if you had the car feeling the way I got my car to feel at the end, you could make the outside work. That's something some people have been able to do here before, but I've never been able to do, so I thought that was pretty cool."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY THAT WILL HELP YOU TOMORROW?
"I think that Goodyear and NASCAR have done a nice job configuring the tire and the air package so that we can have some real exciting races here. The tires do fall off quite a bit, but nobody, that I'm aware of, had trouble with the right-front tire. They didn't hit the wall or have any trouble, although we did have some tires that wound up having some cords show. It's going to be a real exciting race. Most teams I think scuffed tires. Matt running all day on sticker tires today, Goodyear is likely to sell more tires than they would have otherwise because scuffed tires may not be the way to go for most of the teams."
WAS YOUR CAR GETTING BETTER AT THE END OF THE RACE OR LESS WORSE THAN OTHERS?
"I just wasn't pushing as bad. Everybody I think was pushing; I didn't see many loose race cars. This track has a tendency to get tight. Even in practice, you'll start off so loose that you think you're going to wreck, and in 20 laps you'll be pushing. The last run, we made some really big adjustments because we were tight. We were even tighter because we back farther in the pack, and the more cars you're behind the tighter your car is. It was very difficult to get the front end to turn today. I was really surprised when we started running those guys down. When they threw the green on the restart I was behind Johnny Benson, I think, and I ran behind him for 20 laps and then I finally got a good run on him somewhere and passed him. I could hardly keep up to him, but once I passed him, we put a half of a straightaway on him in six or seven laps and that really surprised me and it really showed me what clean air meant. I never really thought we had a shot to win until we pulled into third and they told me those were the leaders right in front of me. I just assumed Kyle was all the way out there by himself because in the beginning of the race he was just annihilating everybody and I just assumed he was gone, and all of a sudden I looked up and saw them both in front of me. I was surprised as much as we were pushing that we were able to run as fast as we can. I knew the rest of the guys weren't handling exactly the way they wanted to either."
WHAT WAS YOUR CAR LIKE ON RESTARTS, AND WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET ON THE RESTART?
"You're always more confident being in front than if you're the guy behind that. I was a little worried about spinning the tires. When you run that long of a run on tires, they get real greased up and they pick up a lot of debris on the track. I tried really hard to get them cleaned off. We had the right gearing in the car for good restarts, so I was pretty confident with that as long as I didn't spin the tires. I tried to be real careful and I did spin the tires a little bit, but not much. I wanted to get away as fast as I could, but not spin the tires much either. I just tried really hard to clean the tires up, clean the debris off of them and try to get a good jump and try to get out ahead."
TALK ABOUT HOW YOU GOT SO FAR BACK IN THE FIELD EARLY IN THE RACE.
"The first time we took two tires and we fell back to fifth, and then we pitted again and took a spring rubber out and it just took longer than I thought. My pit crew does a great job, but what we do on our Busch teams is we take people who are aspiring to be over-the-wall guys on the Cup side, so it's kind of like our second string for our Cup side, all the back up guys. We put teams together; our pit stop coordinator Andy puts teams together of people to give them practice, to get them experience to do all of that. We were just a little slow pulling that rubber, so that's just something we probably have to practice a little bit more. But, that cost us some spots on pit road. Even in the Busch Series, a lot of these guys use their Cup teams and there's a lot of talent on pit road and if you have to do one or two little extra things, you can lose a lot of spots. They did a good job and did everything right. They didn't make any mistakes, we just lost a few spots that time and it could have been much worse. The last stop was a good stop, but that's where we were running at the time. A couple of guys got two tires in front of us. We got four, of course, and we lost a couple of spots that way. Other than that, we broke even with the cars we were racing on that last stop."
HAMILTON, JR. SAID HE HAD FUEL PICKUP PROBLEMS ON THE LAST RESTART. IS THAT EVER A WORRY FOR YOU?
"It used to be somewhat if you had problems with vapor lock, but Jack does a good job of researching all of that and making sure those problems don't happen over and over. Our car was really crisp, clean and strong on restarts, and that;'s one of the best running engines I've ever had in the Busch Series. They did a good job of giving me a lot of power and good on the restarts."
"The thing that you see a lot of times when you park a car like that and you don't add fuel, you don't fill it up is that the fuel gets hotter than it would otherwise be and you'll have worse of a problem vapor locking. If you're real marginal, and we don't know that we're not marginal, we're always nervous about it after we park it like that. The last of the fuel that you take out of the fuel cell tends to be hotter, obviously, than the average fuel, and after it sits and heat soaks then you have more trouble. The people that had trouble were the people that were real close on having fuel that was real hot. Not enough air moving around the fuel line, the fuel line isn't routed ideally, a lot of things go into that."
"There have been times where they've been almost the same. Actually, a lot of times we've ran better in this Busch race than we did today. We've dominated the race three or four times and never have been able to win it for a couple of mistakes that I've made. We've run out of fuel once and we've had a lot of silly things happen. There have been days that I've been more confident than I've been today. It always feels good to win our Saturday because our cars are very, very similar. Usually confidence on Sunday, at least for me, comes out of Happy Hour on Saturday, how you ran and how you feel your car is. I didn't feel ours was very good today, but I do know what the track did. I know the setups in our Busch car and our Cup car were very similar and I think the adjustments would relate from one car to the other. It gives me a little bit better idea of what to shoot for and maybe makes that bull's-eye a little bit bigger. We didn't run great in Happy Hour, but the way the track is, I think a lot of people are struggling with the same thing and I think it's going to be a lot like today, the guy that gets his car to turn the best without being so loose he can't hang on to it at first is going to be the guy who is going to be tough. Clean air is important if you can't get your car to work on the outside. Being in the back, we're going to have to work on our car to work on the outside of the track."