Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, comes into this weekend 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after gaining three spots in the last two races. He spoke about this weekend prior to practice.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU FEEL WINDING DOWN THE LAST FEW RACES? ARE YOU READY FOR THE SEASON TO BE OVER? “I’m not really ready for it to be over. You know what the schedule is, so I guess you are looking to the end of the year. I really enjoy these next three tracks coming up though.” H
OW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK? “Good. This has always been one of our better tracks in the past. I look forward to getting out there and seeing how competitive our stuff is.
WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENTS DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO MAKE FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON? “We are just taking it one race at a time like we always do. We won’t really know until we get on the track here. We are trying to bring our best stuff, trying to get the best finishes we can here the last three weeks and try to learn as much as we can that will help us next year.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE SO FAR THIS SEASON? “This season has been frustrating for me and we expect more. It was good that we made the Chase and all that, but we expect to win and be a contender for the championship. We haven’t been able to do that for a few years now. We have to keep moving forward and try to make every part of it the best we can and try to get better.”
AS A FAN OF RACING, NOT AS A DRIVER, AS A FAN, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE 2013 REDESIGN OF THE CAR? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FORDS LOOK DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS? “I don’t know. I think they look a little bit different now. I understand NASCAR’s need of making the cars as close as they can so nobody has a distinct advantage aerodynamically. I didn’t particularly love this car, so I am looking forward to maybe if they redo things a little and see what it looks like. We get a new nose for next year which I think will help the cars look nicer. I don’t know what it will do with how they drive. NASCAR keeps working hard to make the cars look better and perform better on the track to.”
WHEN YOU LOOK AT NEXT YEAR, WHAT THINGS CAN YOU TAKE FROM THIS YEAR INTO NEXT SEASON? “Every week I think you learn something. I certainly have made my share of mistakes trying to hard for sure. I think the main thing is that you look at all aspects of your program and try to figure out how to make yourself better and make your program better.”
WAS THERE ANY TRACK WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU FIGURED IT OUT? “There are certain tracks that are easier than others. We have been to some of our best tracks and not ran good and been to our worse tracks and ran okay, so I guess not really. It is just constantly trying to make your cars drive how you want them to at all the different tracks.”
AT TALLADEGA WE SAW JIMMIE JOHNSON GET HUNG OUT TO DRY A LITTLE BIT. IF PUSH CAME TO SHOVE, WOULD YOU HELP THE 48 TO WIN A RACE? “I didn’t see any of that, but I think you are always going to try draft with people that have drafted with you or helped you or whatever. At the end of the race you are all going to do what is best for yourself. No matter who is in front of you. If you feel like pushing him will get both of you to the front, then that is what you are going to do.”
AFTER LAST WEEKEND IT IS VERY TIGHT AMONG THE TOP THREE, WHICH OF THE THREE WOULD GET YOUR HELP IF THEY NEEDED IT? “There is nothing you are going to do to help anybody at any of these three races. One race a year, maybe two now that they repaved Daytona, can you really help or hurt someone on a race track. It is one against 42 like it is every week.”
WOULD YOU WRECK ANOTHER CHASER TO WIN A RACE? “I wouldn’t wreck anybody to win a race intentionally. I race everybody the same all the time. I don’t think the racing really changes. I know you guys probably think it does. Maybe if someone has a real big lead the last race it might change a little, but I think you race someone the way you do all year. If you have a problem with somebody then I don’t think you care if it is in the Chase or not. If you take care of it like we have seen somewhere a few weeks earlier and vice versa. If a guy races you clean all the time and you race him clean then that isn’t going to change. I think everybody should race everyone the same all year no matter what the points are.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT PHOENIX? “I haven’t ran particularly well there since we introduced this car. In the spring we ran pretty competitively, so the hardest thing there is to get to turn really good in one and two and still not be too loose down in three or four. That is what you work on there.”
DOES THAT MEAN YOU LIKE IT OR HATE IT THERE? “I like Phoenix. There aren’t any tracks that I really hate. I really enjoy going to Phoenix. It is a really good track, for a short track.”
WHY DO YOU THINK SOME PEOPLE FELL LIKE THERE SHOULD BE A NEW CHAMPION? “Probably because everybody would like to beat him. If I don’t win it, then yeah you have friends and stuff you would like to see win it, but I just hope the best car each year wins it. If the best team wins it then I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I think the fastest car is supposed to win the race and the best team and car is supposed to win the championship.”
GENERALLY IT SEEMS LIKE ROUSH FENWAY HAS SOME GROUND TO MAKE UP STILL. IS THERE ANY ONE OR TWO PLACES YOU CAN POINT TO THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LACKING? “There are probably a couple of spots you could look at. I think you have to look over the whole thing. I think we have made big improvements from where we were earlier this year, but I don’t think we are where we need to be at to be in serious contention for a championship. I think that is where management, the sponsors and everybody wants to be. We are going to have to look at that over the winter and continue to improve. There has been a lot happening there in the last year and it is definitely getting better.”
IT LOOKS LIKE WITH THE NEW SPLITTER COMING NEXT YEAR, FORD WILL GET TO TWEAK ITS NOSE A LITTLE BIT. ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THOSE CHANGES AND HOW THEY MIGHT HELP YOU? “I am not really familiar. I have to be careful not to speak out of turn, but I assume we are trying to make it looks more like what the Chevy looks like because it seems like they are the best and their headlight area is a little different. There is not that many areas you can work in anymore, so I am sure we are just trying to get caught up with everybody else.”