MATT KENSETH RACE WINNER PRESS CONFERENCE
MATT KENSETH – Driver, No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion — TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE RACE. “Well, drivers and teams, we don’t really like repaves. We complain about them. I was thinking, man, this has to be entertaining for everybody to watch. There was a lot of wild stuff happening. It was tricky especially when you were on the bottom and you didn’t have a lot of air. Our race went pretty good. Our car wasn’t bad from the start. We made some great adjustments from the first pit stop. We were pretty good until I got into the wall and we had to come and fix it. Actually it turned out to be some good fortune because it didn’t slow the car down and we had more fuel than anybody. They had to wait to fill their tanks up and we got our tank full faster, plus we had a really good pit stop so we were able to pass all those guys. That put me out front and gave us a chance.”
THIS IS YOUR 24TH VICTORY. THIS MOVES YOU INTO A TIE FOR 26TH ON THE ALL‑TIME SERIES WIN LIST. THIS IS YOUR THIRD VICTORY OF 2012, YOUR SECOND WIN IN THE CHASE. TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU HERE TODAY. “Well, it’s not something I’ve really put any thought into but I will say you never know when or if your next win is. Like I always am, especially as you get older, you really appreciate it more. I’m really thankful and humble to be sitting up here honestly. It’s just a pleasure to drive that stuff. We still have some races left we want to win. I just think it says a lot about these guys sitting here, Robbie, everybody else, how hard they work to give me the best stuff and give me a chance to win every week.”
JACK ROUSH, Co-Owner, No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford — TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT THAT WEEKEND HERE AT KANSAS HAS MEANT TO YOU. “I don’t think I’ve ever strung two races together and had so many surprises, certainly not surprises that worked out in my favor. It was a great race track to race on as it turned out for us. It was surprising, as many people lost their grip on the track, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, all three spinning by themselves. The 43 and the 9 maybe as well, but it was pretty amazing the race track had that surprise for the guys. I’m sure it made it a real exciting race for the fans. We don’t look forward to having the race tracks repaved because it really makes all of the notes we have not useful to us. It was an amazing jump ball for both the race yesterday and today and fuel wound up being more of a factor more yesterday than today. It was pretty interesting that the cars that got damaged were able to come back and run as well as they did. A number of cars hit the wall and it really didn’t seem they were impacted that much by it. I’m proud to be here with Jimmy Fennig. He’s the man. He’s led this team to championships. He’s really done a nice job. We appreciate Jimmy and everything that he does. Of course, Matt has had 14 years with us and I’m very proud and happy about that, as well.”
JIMMY FENNIG, crew chief, No. 17 Ford — TALK ABOUT THE STRATEGY YOU USED TO GET TO VICTORY LANE TODAY. “It ended up being a little bit of fuel mileage, too. We worked hard and the track opened up a few days early so we could go test. We looked at a lot of different things. One thing is that we put a lot of adjustability in the car this morning so if the track changed, we could get in and out. The guys did a great job on all that stuff this week.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — MATT, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DODGING ALL THE MAYHEM ON THE TRACK, WHAT YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TO. HOW DID THE SURFACE PLAY OUT FOR YOU? “Some of the stuff we dodged was good fortune, not being around it. That one wreck where I guess Kyle spun out; we were pretty close to that one. I think it was Kyle, first time he spun was really close to that one and got through it. Then, of course, when Aric was kind of running the mark, I knew he was going to spin before he knew he was going to spin. I saw that thing going around. That’s what gave us the damage, which was still my fault. I got in the fence. I was trying to watch him and squeeze it up the track a little bit. I didn’t want to let off the gas unless he let off and came back across the track. I got in Mark’s wake a little bit and the car moved right, I pancaked it pretty good. That was our closest one because we actually got some damage there. It was tricky. Early in the race, Jimmie Johnson helped me. He didn’t know he helped me but he did. We ran him down fast, got underneath him and he held me really tight. My car was so loose I could hardly control it. I honestly thought I was going to wipe him out four or five times. We ran ten laps like that and finally he got by me and couldn’t get a pass. That taught me a lot about how hard it was going to drive underneath cars, where I wanted to be on restarts, which was outside, kind of what to expect.”
THE REPAVED TRACK ITSELF? “Well, I mean, I think as it gets older, it will be a little bit more driver friendly, a little less treacherous. I don’t know if you could have much more of an entertaining or unpredictable race today or even yesterday for that matter. As far as a quality job, awesome facility, they did a nice job on the repave. You couldn’t come to a nicer place.”
YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ENTERTAINING THE RACE WAS. WAS IT FUN FOR YOU OR IS IT FRUSTRATING FOR A DRIVER? DO THEY NEED TO DO ANYTHING WITH THE TIRE OR JUST GO WITH THAT? “I mean, I haven’t seen the whole race. I just saw what happened around me basically. They have to bring a tire that’s durable enough not to blow out. I think a couple people blew tires. I don’t know why, maybe they ran something over. The challenge isn’t as big as it used to be with repaves. When they used to repave tracks, like Charlotte for instance, the tire had to be so hard it wouldn’t blow out. The new pavement makes so much grip and heat you couldn’t drive a car for 20 laps you would be so loose. You would just keep picking up time, getting better and better and better. This tire is better than that, but it’s a hard tire because they need it to be durable and not blow out. I’m not sure about next year, but obviously through the races and years, when the surface ages, they’ll be able to come back on that and give us a little bit more grip.
JIMMY FENNIG CONTINUED — JIMMY, COULD YOU TAKE US THROUGH THE REPAIRS THAT WERE NEEDED. ALSO NOT THAT YOU NEEDED TO CONSULT MIKE KELLEY, BUT DID YOU CONSULT WHAT HE DID TO GET RICKY BACK IN THE RACE? “Mike Kelley took our favorite car out that we used to win all the races last year with. We knew he would be all right. We hit it pretty flat, just enough to get it on the tires. The guys got it back to the shape we needed. They actually work on the cars at the shop. They know what kind of shape they’re looking for. It was pretty good. They did a great job.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — YOU SEEMED ALMOST SENTIMENTAL TALKING ABOUT THE TEAM. HOW HAS THE CHASE WORKED OUT FOR YOU WITH SORT OF THE GOOD AND THE BAD? “We’ve had two great races where they couldn’t be better, and we had four that probably couldn’t be a lot worse, other than Loudon. It’s been up and down. I thought last year we were really strong. I thought in the Chase last year we had a shot to win the championship as far as performance. I feel like I let my guys down and didn’t do a good enough job making decisions on the track or even off the track, whatever. I felt like I cost us, but our cars were fast enough to win. This season we started off real fast and could run in the top five every week it felt like. We went through a couple months where we didn’t perform as well. Unfortunately, one of those months ran into the Chase. I just felt like we were a little off as a group, plus we made a few mistakes that we typically never make, have had some other problems that cost us some finishes. It feels good to get here, have a fast car, have everything happen right, be able to get the win.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED — WITH RECORD CAUTIONS THE LAST TWO DAYS, THE CAT IN THE HAT HAS TO BE LUCKY TO BE DODGING BULLETS? “I had a little déjà vu both days. We had a chance to get the free pass with Ricky yesterday, and that was putting us in a fuel window I thought most people wouldn’t be in. We’re normally on the other end of that situation. But it worked out for us yesterday. As I watched all the people having their trouble spinning and everything, I didn’t realize until Matt was back on the race track that he’d hit the wall. I had missed that. I watched all that happen. Normally it works out so we wind up not being able to prevail in situations that have got that much adversity. For us to win with two of them in a row makes me feel very, very fortunate.
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — A CLOUD COVER CAME RIGHT ABOUT THE START OF THE RACE. DID THAT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON THE SETUP OF THE RACECARS OR HOW THE CAR PERFORMED? “Jimmy is probably smart enough to figure that out. I’m not sure I am. Where we ran on the track, when we finally got track position, I think it’s the first time the big cloud cover got over, it cooled down. Right now I’m rambling, have no idea what I’m talking about (laughter). I couldn’t really tell a difference. It was cloudy most of the day and got sunny a little bit at the end. The biggest thing that made the difference in your car handling was track position. The more cars in front of me, the closer they were, the worse it handled. The more of a gap I had in front of me, the better it handled. That’s what I could tell the difference with what made my car run.”
JIMMY FENNIG CONTINUED — “I just think the new pavement here, there wasn’t much difference with the sun versus the cloud with the new pavement. There wasn’t much sun anyway.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED “Matt commented we went through a little bit of a doldrums, our days weren’t looking so good a couple months ago or a month ago. The Ford Motor Company kicked in and gave us some more engineering support. That helped us a lot. Of course, Doug Yates’ engines really worked well today. They ran all day. It looked like they had lots of power. We had a good aero package, good engine package behind us, good engine, had a great driver and a great crew chief. That’s why it worked out.”
TALK ABOUT GREG’S DEAL. LOOKED LIKE HE HAD ENOUGH SPEED TO WIN THE RACE, THE DISAPPOINTMENT HE MUST HAVE HAD TODAY. “Greg was in a better position to make a run for the championship here than Matt was based on the points. My heart was in my throat when I saw him spin there by himself. Of course, I had seen several other cars have the same trouble. The race track bit him today and that was a great sadness for me.”