Ford Charlotte Thursday Advance (Biffle and Kenseth)

CHARLOTTE FORD FAST FACTS:
•        Matt Kenseth registered the first victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series here at Charlotte Motor Speedway during his rookie season of 2000 when he captured the Coca-Cola 600.
•        Kasey Kahne swept both Charlotte NSCS races in 2006 and has four wins at the track overall, including the 2008 All-Star Race.
•        Bill Elliott is the other current Ford driver with at least one NSCS win at Charlotte, having won twice in his career.
•        Elliott Sadler holds the Charlotte track qualifying record at 193.216 mph, which he set on Oct. 13, 2005 when he was driving the No. 38 Ford for Robert Yates Racing.
•        There are 13 Fords entered in this weekend’s Bank of America 500, the full allotment of Fusions on the manufacturer roster.

Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are looking to bounce back from problems last week at California that dropped them more than 200 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.  Biffle (10th) and Kenseth (11th) spoke about their situations before Thursday’s first practice session at Charlotten Motor Speedway.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR TEAM’S
CHEMISTRY?  “I think our chemistry is really good.  We were really fast the last couple of weeks and won at Kansas, so I think the chemistry within our team is really good.” 

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WOULD YOU CONSIDER THAT ONE OF YOUR TEAM’S STRENGTHS?  “I think so.  I definitely would.” 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN ON A ROLLERCOASTER THE LAST FEW WEEKS?
“Yeah.  Our race didn’t start out the way we wanted at California.  We weren’t as fast as we thought we’d be, so that was a little frustrating, and then we had engine trouble, so that was more frustrating, especially since we were coming off a win at Kansas.  So it has been up and down, but we still feel like we’re on the positive side of the momentum.” 

WHEN THE MOTOR WENT LAST WEEK WHAT WAS THE EMOTION?  DID YOUR HEART SINK?  “Yeah, because that was our championship hope, really, to have a good day at California and continue to keep us up front.  I knew when that engine blew up that we were just gonna try to get the highest points finish we could, but that’s frustrating to be coming off a win and then end up like that.”

JACK SAID HE’S STILL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT WHAT LIES AHEAD BECAUSE THE PERFORMANCE HAS IMPROVED SO MUCH.  IS THERE SOME SOLACE IN KNOWING THAT THE SPEED HAS RETURNED?  “I think so.  That’s why I said I think we’re still on the upswing.  Our mile-and-a-half program seems to be
good and pretty strong.  We didn’t fire off the first 40 laps of that race like we wanted to, but we never got a chance to adjust on the car and work on it.” 

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE INVOLVED IN ALL THAT MAYHEM AT TALLADEGA?  “It’s tough.  It’s horrible when you’re in the middle of those wrecks because there’s nothing you can do about it.  You’re just along for the ride.” 

DO YOU THINK YOU’LL RUN BETTER THIS TIME?  “We race the same every year we go there.  We’ve got fast cars and you just try to miss the wreck.” 

DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU CAN’T GIVE EVERYTHING YOU WANT ON THE TRACK BECAUSE THE RISK MIGHT BE TOO HIGH?  “That’s the risk versus reward and it’s with anything.  It’s like gambling or anything you do like investing money on Wall Street.  It’s the risk you take versus the reward you get and how far do you want to push the envelope of getting that last position or getting that last quarter-of-a-second getting on or off pit road versus spinning out and hitting the cone and getting a pass through penalty and finishing 26th.  How far do you want to push the envelope?”

DO YOU THEN BREAK IT DOWN ON MONDAY AND PLAY THE WOULDA, SHOULDA GAME?  “That’s what the production meetings are for on Monday.  We try and learn from our mistakes or our other team’s mistakes.  For instance, we probably got our engine tuned up too much, well, the 6 and all the other guys can benefit from that by being aware of that now.  Unfortunately, we’re aware of it but we didn’t finish the race, so there are benefits to be learned all across the board.” 

DO YOU THINK THE NON-CHASE DRIVERS WILL HAVE MORE RESPECT FOR THE CHASERS THESE LAST FEW WEEKS?  “I don’t think so.  Everybody is racing for the best finish they can get.  These accidents would happen whether it’s in the chase or not.  People are racing as hard as they can and accidents are gonna happen.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – HOW COULD THINGS TURN AROUND FOR YOU GUYS THIS WEEKEND?  “We’ve been hoping every week that things will turn around.  It seems like our car has been performing a little bit better here the last three weeks or so, and hopefully we can have our cars perform this week like they did last week and Kansas, where we got to the end and got a good finish.” 

DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES SIMILAR TO WHERE THE CHILDRESS TEAMS WERE LAST YEAR?  THEY
STRUGGLED MUCH OF THE YEAR AND THEN SHOWED IMPROVEMENT TOWARD THE END.
“I hope so.  You never want to go through a period like we have, where we haven’t improved and we’ve actually gone backwards.  You never want to go through that, you always want to be getting better no matter where you’re running or where you are in the points.  You always want to get better.  I think toward the two-thirds mark of the year we started running a little bit better as a group.  Greg’s been able to win a couple races and Carl has been pretty close a few times and we’ve been running a little better too, so we’re hoping we can continue that through the last six weeks and carry it into next season, and figure out some things that will make us better and hopefully get better over the off-season as well.” 

WERE THEY ABLE TO IDENTIFY THE ENGINE PROBLEMS YOU AND GREG HAD?  WERE THEY THE SAME THING?  “I never asked what happened to Greg’s car.  Our car and AJ was starting to have some problems toward the end of the race.  I know our cars had the same issue, which they know what the problem was and they have it addressed, but I’m not really sure what happened to Greg’s car, to be honest with you.  I didn’t even ask.” 

YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACING AT TALLADEGA?  “Everybody always talks about Talladega being the wild card in the chase, so I guess it could be.  Any of the races really could be because you never know what’s gonna happen as far as wrecks, but certainly Talladega always has the potential to be an accident waiting to happen.  You never know where it’s gonna occur, when it’s gonna occur and who it’s gonna take out, so that’s one you’re never sure where everybody is gonna finish until the race is over – that’s for sure.” 

SHORT TRACKS SEEM TO HAVE BEEN THE PROBLEM FOR ROUSH FENWAY OF LATE.  WHY?  “I think since the introduction to the COT car, the car we’re running now, our short track stuff at the 17 hasn’t been near as good and we haven’t really fixed that to have it where it needs to be and I’m not sure why.  Carl ran pretty good on the short tracks when the cars first came out and then we’ve all struggled as a group.  Richmond for us was much better at the 17.  We ran pretty competitively and even though we didn’t finish the race the way we needed to, there were times in the race where we ran pretty good.  New Hampshire wasn’t so good, but I don’t know why it is.  We’re working on it and working on all the stuff to make it better, but the short track stuff seems to have been the biggest struggle.”

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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