Ford Homestead Friday Advance

FORD FAST FACTS:
•        Ford leads all manufacturers in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at
Homestead-Miami Speedway with six in 11 all-time races.  Ironically,
all of those race wins have come since Ford became the primary sponsor
of all three races in 2002.
•        Roush Fenway Racing has all six of those Ford wins, including five
in a row from 2004-2008.
•        Greg Biffle posted three straight Ford 400 victories from 2004-2006.
•        Matt Kenseth followed by winning in 2007 while Carl Edwards won in 2008.
•        All 13 Ford teams are at Homestead-Miami Speedway attempting to make
the field for Sunday’s Ford 400.

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, comes into
this weekend fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
He spoke about this weekend’s championship finale and the improvement
his team has made the last couple of months.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – WHOSE POSITION DO YOU
LIKE BEST OF THE TOP THREE TITLE CONTENDERS?  “The leader.  I think
you always would rather have the most points going into a race, no
matter what, than being behind.  It’s not a big lead, so anything can
happen.” 


American Muscle

HOW WOULD YOU HANDICAP IT?  YOU’VE ALWAYS SPOKE HIGHLY ABOUT
JIMMIE JOHNSON AND HIS TEAM.  “They haven’t been quite on the roll
they’ve been lately, for sure, and that’s hard to say since he’s only
15 points out of the lead, but the 11’s performance seems to be quite
a bit better all year.  The 11 has been real strong, and his
performance has been real good lately, so I guess you would probably
have to give him the advantage for performance so far, but this is a
different track and a different weekend.   The 48 has the experience
of doing it the last four years, so I think it’s an interesting mix.”

DO YOU BALANCE RESPECT FOR THOSE GUYS WITH RACING YOUR OWN RACE?
“You’re not gonna give them anything.  You’re still gonna go race your
own race and try to win and get the best finish you can get, but,
certainly, you’re gonna be as respectful to them as you always are and
make sure you give them room and don’t hurt their chances to win.  I
don’t think they want anybody to give them anything and nobody will.
Everybody still has their own agenda to finish as high as they can in
the points and try to get a win or a good finish.” 

DO YOU EXPECT ALL THREE OF THEM TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN THE TITLE?  “Yeah.  When
it comes to being on the track I’ve never showed up and not wanted to
win, so everybody shows up and gives it their all to get the best
result they can.” 

HAVE YOU AND JIMMY FENNIG FOUND SOMETHING THE LAST
THIRD OF THE YEAR TO BUILD ON FOR NEXT YEAR?  “Yeah, I don’t know
about just us but all of our cars seem to be faster here the last few
months.  Lately, it seems like things have been going better.  Our
cars have been faster.  Last week, I thought we probably even had a
shot at it without having that pit road penalty on our last pit stop,
so it feels like we’re gaining some momentum and the cars are quicker
and we’re understanding each other probably a little better.” 

DO YOU
THINK YOU’VE FOUND SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP LONG-TERM?  “You hate
changing stuff around all the time because it’s hard to get any kind
of consistency going.  It’s hard to build on anything when you’re
changing stuff all the time, obviously.  We’ve always got along good,
but it seems like the whole group right now is moving along.  As an
organization, our cars have been getting faster and all of them have
been more competitive, so it seems like we’re headed in the right
direction.” 

HAVE YOU AND JIMMY STARTED TO CLICK MORE?  “We’ve always
got along really good.  I actually started hanging out with Jimmy when
he was Mark’s crew chief in ’98.  Mark hooked me up with Roush Racing
and I kind of followed him around and went to testing with him to try
and learn things, so I’ve known Jimmy for a long time and we’ve always
gotten along well.”         

MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — DOES JIMMY BRING ANYTHING SPECIFIC TO YOUR
TEAM?  “Everybody has their own style and the things they like to work
on more than others, and he has his certain things that he likes to do
with the cars.  He’s brought some experience to the group and he’s
been there before.  He’s won championships and a lot of races, so he’s
got tons of experience and has seemed to help the group that way.”

HAS WHAT THE GROUP DONE LATELY GIVEN YOU HOPE FOR NEXT YEAR?  “Yeah,
I’m more thinking about Sunday right now, but if we could have a
consistent, good run and finish on Sunday, I think as a group it will
help us.  We seem to be headed in the right direction now, so,
hopefully, we can continue that.” 

YOU’VE HAD SUCH BAD LUCK IN THE
CHASE PREVIOUSLY.  DOES THIS CHASE FEEL LIKE A BREAKTHROUGH?  “It’s
been a disappointing few years for me and probably for the team as
well.  I feel like if we can get through Sunday without problems and
run as good as I feel we’re capable of, and finish fourth or fifth in
the points, I think that would be kind of a highlight for the year or
something to hang our hat on and something to look at and say, ‘It
seems like we were off, but we did finish in the top five.’  That
would great to do that, but 11th is still possible too, if things go
wrong, but that would be good for us.  If we could get a top-10 or a
top-five on Sunday and run competitively like we have here the last
few weeks and finish up well in the points, I think that would be good
for all of us.” 

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR 400TH CUP START ON SUNDAY?
“It’s just a number.  It means you’re old and you’ve been around for
a long time, but I am proud of that.  I walked in here last night and
I thought about it a little bit.  I thought of Robbie and his dad and
his family giving me a chance to run his Nationwide car to start with.
Without that, I probably wouldn’t have any starts, and without Mark
Martin’s help, so you kind of look back and think of that stuff for a
few minutes.  But when you get ready at the start of the race, it’s
just another race.” 

DO YOU SAY TO YOURSELF, ‘WHERE HAS THE TIME
GONE?’  “Yeah, but I do that all the time.  My kid is 6’3” and 17
years old.  You wonder where all that goes.  It goes by really fast,
that’s for sure.” 

IS THIS CHASE CLOSE BECAUSE TEAMS HAVE LEARNED WHAT
STRATEGY WORKS BEST?  “I don’t think it matters.  I don’t think
anybody has adjusted their strategy, it’s just that some years are
closer than others.  There are a lot of points to be gained or lost,
especially lost every week.  If you have problems or something goes
wrong and somebody gets on a roll with no problems, plus it’s
competitive, so it’s just the way it has worked out this year.”

           Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion and
three-time winner at Homestead Miami Speedway, took time to speak with
media after hitting the wall near the end of the first practice
session of the day for Sunday’s Ford 400. Biffle talked about having
to go to a back-up car, why Roush Fenway Racing has had such success
at this track and if NASCAR needs a new champion.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT THE END
OF PRACTICE?  “We let a bunch of air out of the tires and tried to run
the top for a qualifying run and it just didn’t work.” 

HOW IS THAT
GOING TO CHANGE THE WEEKEND FOR YOU? HOW IMPORTANT WAS THAT PRIMARY
CAR?  “It is the best car we have.”  WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR PROGRAM IS
LOOKING TOWARD NEXT YEAR AND WHERE YOU GUYS NEED TO GO?  “That wreck
there was my fault. I got talked into something that I didn’t really
think was going to be the right thing to do and ended up wrecking the
car. You know, that is experience on my part. I let it get the best of
me. I think we are positioned really good for next year though. We
have really good cars. The stuff is really fast. I just have to use my
head better than I did right there.”

WHY IS IT THAT ROUSH FENWAY SEEMS TO EXCEL AT
THIS TRACK?  “We excel at every mile-and-a-half. You can ask yourself
why that is, but I don’t have any idea. It has been a phenomenon of
ours forever. We run really good at mile-and-a-half’s. There isn’t one
that we don’t run good at if you look back at it. They don’t exist.”

THIS TRACK IS VERY UNIQUE THOUGH COMPARED TO THE OTHERS.  “It is, you
are right. This track is completely different than a lot of them. A
lot of mile-and-half’s have similarities. Kansas, Chicago, Texas and
Charlotte, those kinds of places are similar. This place is unique.”

WITH THE HOLIDAYS AROUND THE CORNER, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO MOST AT
THAT TIME?  “I like to spend time off and think about what you are
going to be getting to do for the next month or two. Right after
Thanksgiving we get to go to Vegas for a week for the banquet. I enjoy
spending time with the family and eating too much turkey on
Thanksgiving and sitting around and kind of doing nothing.” 

IS THERE
A BIG PUSH FOR YOU TO SELL THE PET CALENDARS HERE OVER THE LAST FEW
WEEKS?  “Yeah, there has been. We are doing really well with it. Each
year it is really great. Right now we have a great business plan. If
we were traded publically on Wall Street we would be doing great.
Every year we have grown and sold more calendars. This year we are
doing exceptionally well and have sold more than we have the years
previous. We are really thankful for the people that get behind the
foundation and find a use for the calendar with all the drivers and
their pets.” 

TOMORROW THEY ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT DAYTONA AND THE
TRACK REPAVE PROJECT BEING PRETTY MUCH FINISHED. HOW HARD IS IT FOR
YOU WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN OFF FOR SO MANY WEEKS TO CLIMB BACK BEHIND THE
WHEEL OF THE CAR?  “It is going to be different this year, more so
than ever. One, it is going to be a new surface – a new Daytona that
nobody has seen, so that is new. We haven’t tested in like three years
or something, so that is going to be new. It is going to be different.
There are a lot of things that are going to be new.” 

DO YOU THINK IT
IS GOING TO CHANGE THE RACE MUCH?  “I definitely think it is going to
change the race. It will change it similar to how Talladega changed. I
honestly feel like it will change for the better. It will probably be
more exciting. We will probably be able to do a little more
bump-drafting. We should have more grip and be a little smoother. I
think it will be good.” 

YOU HAVE BEEN WITH GREG ERWIN FOR THREE AND A
HALF SEASONS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM?  “I think
it is good. They’ve got the cars going really good. We are still
learning each other I think. He has been in this sport awhile but he
continues to learn and make his notebook better for year after year,
which is what we need to do.” 

HOW DOES THIS YEAR COMPARE TO LAST YEAR
FOR YOU?  “Way better. Our cars are really fast right now and have
been ever since Chicago, ever since we kind of copied the RPM cars. As
long as we don’t screw that up I feel good about 2011 and getting four
or five wins instead of two. We had Texas won hands down and had drive
train issues that we have now fixed. It seems to be fixed here today
and the car is smooth as glass. If we would have had that fixed two
weeks ago we would have won at Texas and that would have been three
wins. We were on our way to maybe winning Chicago when our engine blew
up. A lot of exciting things for 2011 I think with maybe four or five
wins and maybe a run for the title I hope.” 

CHICAGO WAS THE BIG
TURNING POINT?  “Absolutely because if you look at before and after
those dates, before Chicago the whole company was horrible and after
the whole company was good. Carl finished second at that race and it
was his best finish of the season.” 

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK NASCAR
NEEDS TO SEE A NEW CHAMPION AFTER FOUR YEARS?  “I don’t think anybody
can disagree that it would be good for us. We want the best guy to
win. Right now there are three good guys in the hunt and I think we
could be there if we wouldn’t have had some stupid stuff happen to our
cars. I am okay with any one of the three winning it.”


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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