Ford Notes: Matt Kenseth 2011 Coca Cola 600
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Jeremiah Weed Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session before Thursday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Jeremiah Weed Ford Fusion – WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT KANSAS? “Kansas and Chicago are kind of sister tracks. They’re a lot alike, but Kansas lately that pavement has gotten real worn out, which is a good thing, so you have to have a good balance there on new tires and still be good at the end of the run, so I think that’s the biggest challenge there is to get it to drive good throughout the whole run.” IS THERE SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAT SETS KANSAS APART FROM THE OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS? “Every track is really unique. Like I said, Kansas and Chicago are probably the most similar out of all the mile and a halfs that we go. To put all of the mile and a halfs together isn’t really fair because there are pretty major differences to them all, but it’s similar to Chicago if you had to pick one. I can’t think of anything that really sets it apart, other than the pavement and the way you kind of have to attack the track.” IF JACK ROUSH OWNED A WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT CAR TEAM AND HE CALLED YOU RIGHT NOW AND SAID YOU WERE RACING TOMORROW NIGHT, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR REACTION? “I’d say no (laughing). I’d really like to drive one sometime, not so much race one. I’ve never really raced dirt and I’m pretty sure Jack would want to find somebody that actually knew what they were doing. He’d probably put Stenhouse or Carl in there. I’ve never really done any dirt racing. It’s really neat to watch that stuff and those cars are awesome. I think those guys are just great drivers and I think I would be thoroughly embarrassed if I went and tried that right away.” YOU HAVE THE SAME CAR HERE THIS WEEKEND THAT WON AT TEXAS. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? WILL IT TRANSLATE TO THIS TRACK? “I don’t think a lot translates. The car was really good there, but all of our cars that we bring to the track are real similar these days. There aren’t a lot of big differences in them, so I don’t really have favorite cars like we used to have. At least we know it will run if we have the right stuff in it and can get it dialed in right.” WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FILLING IN FOR TREVOR THIS WEEKEND IN NATIONWIDE? “They’ve been keeping an eye on Trevor and seeing when he was ready to go, so not until yesterday did I know I would be driving. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car. Honestly, I wish that Trevor could run the car this weekend, but I’m looking forward to getting in there and working with Chris (Andrews) and those guys. I know they skipped last week, but I think they’ve got a good team there and all of the Mustangs have been really fast. It looks like they’ve been running really good, but I haven’t been in a Nationwide car for over a year, so I’m looking forward to getting in there and seeing what those drive like.” DOES IT HELP TO RUN NATIONWIDE AND CUP ON THE SAME WEEKEND AT THIS POINT? “Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t run those cars. Everybody says they drive a lot like our Cup cars because they basically are Cup cars, so I don’t know if there will be some stuff you can translate and learn or not. I would think there are some things. Today is always a hard day practicing both cars and qualifying and going back and forth, but on Saturday I think it’ll be a lot of fun and hopefully we’ll be able to learn something that will help me be a little better on Sunday.” WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR KANSAS. “It’ll be fun to go there two times a year. We’ve never raced there at this time of year before, so it’ll be fun to get there.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — HOW WILL THE WEATHER AND TIME OF YEAR FOR THIS RACE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS TRIPS TO KANSAS? “I think it’ll be different, but, really, every year is different through the things that you learn about your setups or your cars. Usually, when you race at these tracks one time a year very seldom, at least for us, can you bring back the same car with the same setup and have it run the same when you come back anyway. So you’re always changing and trying to get better. You’ll probably look at your stuff from last fall for a baseline and then look at the things you’ve been doing this year to be successful and kind of add that into your setup.” WHY HAS ROUSH FENWAY AND FORD BEEN SO GOOD AT TRACKS LIKE KANSAS AND CHICAGOLAND? “I’m not really sure. You want to be good at all the tracks. That’s the key, but, certainly, they’ve been pretty good tracks for us as an organization. Of course, that’s kind of the bread and butter of the series. We have the most mile-and-a-half and two-mile, high-banked, tracks, so I don’t know why it seems we’ve been a little better at those tracks.” ARE YOU A GUY THAT HAS A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH POCONO? “Not really. I can’t think of a time where I really loved it (laughing). Honestly, I don’t hate it either. It’s OK. It can be fun if your car is handling good. It can be a fun race track, although I think it would probably be more exciting if all the straightaways were half as long because you kind of sit there for a while without a lot to do. But it is a fun track. It’ll be more fun and challenging and interesting this time being able to shift because there are a lot more chances of things going wrong. You have a lot more control over things that are going on, so I think that will add a different element to the race, which, I think, will make it a little more exciting.” WHEN YOU GO TO MICHIGAN NOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE AUTO INDUSTRY AND THE PROBLEMS THEY’VE GONE THROUGH ANY DIFFERENTLY? KIND OF LIKE, ‘THEY’RE WORKING HARD FOR ME TO PUT THESE CARS UNDER ME?’ “We’re working hard for them to try to sell cars, so we kind of work together as a team. Certainly, if you can win at Michigan it’s neat because it’s kind of the backyard to all the domestic manufacturers and Roush Industries is up there – a lot of employees come out to the races – so it’s neat when you can do that, but you want to run good with your sponsors and manufacturers everywhere you go.” HOW MUCH CAN YOU TAKE FROM LAST WEEKEND TO THIS WEEKEND? HOW DIFFERENT WILL YOUR SETUP BE? “I don’t think it’ll be a lot different. The track conditions should be very similar. It’s the same tire and it’s only a week later, and nothing has really changed that much, so I don’t think it’ll really be that much different.” DOES 600 MILES SEEM THAT LONGER THAN 500 MILES FROM INSIDE THE CAR? “It really depends how your car is handling, the weather, how you’re running or how many cautions there are – a lot of things play into that. I’ve been in some of those races where it seems like forever in a week and then I’ve been in some 600-milers where it didn’t really feel that much different than a 500-mile race to me, so it all depends. Hopefully, your car is running good and you can stay up front and you’re not being pressured a lot to go down a lap or you’re falling back through the field where you’re really working that much harder. Hopefully, you’ve got a setup with some speed in it where you can find a spot and get some of those miles clipped away.” WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO KYLE BUSCH’S SPEEDING TICKET? “My first reaction is I was wondering if he was in jail. My second reaction is, when I heard where it was, I thought it was probably a little extreme for that road, but, other than that, I didn’t think about it. I’m glad somebody didn’t get hurt.” A REPORT SAID DANICA PATRICK WILL BE COMING OVER TO NASCAR FULL-TIME NEXT YEAR. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? “Honestly, it makes no difference to me. It’s just another competitor on the track. It seems to be good for the sport and maybe for TV ratings. When that stuff improves it’s good for all of us. We all benefit from that, so that part of it is good, but the rest of it doesn’t matter to me. It’s just another competitor to me.” WHY WAS THE ALL-STAR RACE SO BORING LAST WEEK? “I didn’t think it was. I think every race is exciting. I did not watch the replay of the All-Star Race on TV, so I didn’t really see it. I know from where I was, we passed a lot of cars and my car was pretty hard to drive. It was exciting trying to get that green-flag stop done and there was a lot of different stuff going on. We weren’t like we wanted to be in the last 10. We couldn’t really do much in the last 10 laps when it got single-file, but, honestly, I didn’t expect a lot to happen the last 10 laps when everybody is on the same tires and the best car is already out front that has been leading up there the whole time. I didn’t expect a lot different to happen. If you throw a caution with 10 to go in the race and you have the best cars running in the top few, and you’re somewhere where it’s gonna be a little tough to pass, after you get through the restart and get single-file, it’s gonna be tough to make anything happen because the fastest cars are in the front. That’s what racing is. When the fastest car gets in the front, if you don’t have a car as fast as his, how are you gonna catch him?”