FORD FAST FACTS:
• Ford has the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Auto Club Speedway among manufacturers with 10 and has won at least one race in each of the last nine years. That streak is on the line this weekend after Jimmie Johnson won the first Auto Club race earlier this season.
• All three Ford Chase drivers have NSCS victories at Auto Club Speedway. Matt Kenseth leads the way with three while Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards have one apiece. In addition, current Ford drivers Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler also have wins at this speedway.
• Matt Kenseth leads all drivers at Auto Club Speedway in Top 10 finishes with 12, including his seventh-place run in the first NSCS race here earlier this season.
• There are 12 Fords at Auto Club Speedway attempting to make Sunday’s race. All but two of those cars are guaranteed spots in the starting field. David Gilliland will be trying to get the No. 38 Taco Bell Ford in on speed, as will Patrick Carpentier in the No. 26 Air National Guard Fusion.
As mentioned above, Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion, has the most Top 10 finishes among all drivers at Auto Club Speedway with 12. Kenseth, who also has three wins at the track, spoke about his success here before today’s practice.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion – DO YOU THINK THERE IS SOME SORT OF ETIQUETTE BETWEEN CHASERS AND NON-CHASERS, LOOKING BACK ON LAST WEEK’S BUSCH-REUTIMANN ISSUE? “I didn’t really see what went down last week, so I can’t comment on that, but, in my opinion, I think you race the same all year. I think you should race everybody the same whether they’re in the chase or not in the chase.
I think you try to show people respect all year because everybody has the same right to be out there, whether they’re first in points or last in points.” THAT BEING SAID, ARE THERE CERTAIN PEOPLE ON THE TRACK THAT YOU’RE MORE AWARE OF AND TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM BECAUSE YOU FEEL SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN? “No. I race the same all year, honestly, no matter where you are in the points. If it came down to the last week or something like that and you’re the point leader by a bunch, you’re probably gonna be a little bit more careful, but, other than that, as competitive as it is I think you race as hard as you can all year. Everybody has the same right to be out there. Everybody is out there racing for wins and have their own particular responsibilities.”
AS A CHASER DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SOMETIMES RUBBING FENDERS WITH A NON-CHASER, KNOWING THEY COULD POSSIBLY RUIN YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES? “I don’t want to ruin any race. No matter where you are in the points they’re all big races. I think you go out there and you’re gonna race whatever your style is all the time. I don’t think that really changes. You still have to race hard all the time because it’s so competitive that you can’t just go out and think about not knocking a fender off. You go out there and think about trying to get to the front.”
DO YOU CONSIDER THIS THE KIND OF TRACK THAT CAN HELP YOU GET BACK UP IN THE POINTS? “Where we are, we’ve got to gain some significant points on the leader every week to get back in it and have a realistic shot. I think our performance has been picking up a little bit lately, we just have to get a whole race put together.
We’ve been struggling with that a little bit. There were times last week where I thought we were very competitive but we didn’t finish it off. This has been a pretty good track for us in the past, so, hopefully we can be competitive from the time we get on the track this morning all the way through Sunday when we’re done and get a good finish. So that’s really what I’m more focused on is just trying to get back up with the leaders and be competitive so we can get in a really good position to win some races.”
IS THERE A SPECIFIC POINT IN THE RACE WHERE YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO IMPROVE? “Our adjustments have just not been good enough to keep up with the track for whatever reason. Last week, the worst we ran the whole race was our last run and you can’t do that because you’re not gonna get the finishes. Lately, there have been a lot of long, green-flag runs at the end and you’ve got to have your car handling right and do the right things at the end of the race. On the last pit stop we came out ahead of Jimmie Johnson and he finished second and we finished seventh without a caution, so we just haven’t been doing the right things to keep up on whatever it is – track conditions or adjustments. That’s probably my fault for not knowing what I need for adjustments. I’m trying to give them the best feedback I can and hope that we do the right things on the car in the pits to get it running better.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DO WELL AT CHARLOTTE? “Track position has been really important there since the introduction of this car with the spoiler and that pavement. The pavement has a lot of grip and even though the track gets pretty wide, it’s a real fast track and kind of hard to pass so track position is real important. You’ve got to be in position the last couple of stops.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FALL AND SPRING RACE THERE? “I don’t think there’s much of a difference.”
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR ANYBODY TO BEAT THE 48? “You’ve got to prove you can beat them. I’ve said it for five years, they’re the best team out there and somebody has to beat them and knock them down before you can say they’re not the best team. Everybody says, ‘Oh, they don’t have momentum. They’re not running as good.’ Well, as soon as somebody shows they can beat them, I’ll believe it.”
WHAT TRACK ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE MOST OF THE TRACKS LEFT? “Honestly, for me I worry about all of them. I’ve really just been focused on Fontana this weekend and then trying to get back on track here and get a good finish.”
IS THE FR9 ENGINE COMING ON AT THE RIGHT TIME? “I think the engine has been helping a little bit. I think there’s still some room for improvement and Doug knows that – everybody knows that – because we’ve only been working on it for six months or a year, whereas we worked on that old engine forever. I think it’s certainly an advantage and it’s better than what we had, plus they keep getting it better.”
DO YOU THINK IT WILL RUN PARTICULARLY WELL HERE IN FONTANA?
“I hope so. Fontana and Michigan are big horsepower race tracks, but they’re also big handling race tracks as well. It’s real similar to Michigan, so if you perform well there, hopefully you’ll perform okay here.”