Ford Talladega Friday Advance (Kenseth)

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion, is coming off a win in last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Kenseth, who is up to third in the series point standings, answered questions from the media on Friday afternoon at Talladega.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion – “Last week was great for us and I’m looking forward for this week now and getting ready for the race on Sunday, but last week was big for me and for the team to get back to winning again, for sure.”

ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE THE TRACK WITH SOME OF THE STORM WARNINGS? “I’m just staying here. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. Why, is gonna be bad? I guess I didn’t pay enough attention. I haven’t heard any sirens, so I was just planning on staying here. You need a place to stay (laughing). I wasn’t planning on doing anything. I guess I didn’t know it was gonna be that severe.”
American Muscle

IS IT STILL HARD FOR THE PUSHER TO SEE ANYTHING? “It’ll be about the same. There are some instances where you might see a little more because the track is wider and if there is somebody up there and they’re offset farther to the left, you could maybe see them a little bit better, but not enough where it’s gonna help you. The second car really can’t see anything. I was pushing Greg there and it was just us out there and one other car and the car was on the top in three and four and I saw him way up there, and then we were going down the frontstretch and, of course, you can’t see anything. Greg was real low, so I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna go by him,’ and he was actually getting a draft off him, and then he quick, turned right to go around him and I would have sworn that car was on the top. Being the second guy, you really have no clue what’s going on in front of the guy in front of you.”

HOW MANY GUYS DO YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO ON YOUR RADIO SUNDAY? “I hate to ever say that I ever want to listen to Mike Calinoff (17 spotter), but I’d rather just stay on my own channel and listen to my own spotter and crew chief. There are so many things. There is a time where I guess it could help you, like today in practice I had Greg’s channel on because it was just the two of us out there, but the only thing I put in my radios is our three team cars and myself. I know there are some people we gave permission to get our frequency that can talk to us, but I just left ours in there. There’s potential for a lot of things to go wrong. I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I get confused real easy and I hate to switch channels and then you don’t get it full of gas on a green stop and your crew chief can’t get a hold of you, or who knows what can go wrong. I left our team cars in there, so I can talk to those guys if I need to, and there are a few guys that have my channel that I would be fine if they came on my channel. I don’t have a problem with that, but I didn’t go crazy and program a bunch of different stuff.”

DAVID RAGAN SAID YOU RAN THE PERFECT RACE AT TEXAS. WHERE WOULD YOU RANK THAT RACE? “I hate to say that I did. The way the race went and the way that Jimmy called the race, and our pit stops with pitting in front of everybody got us the big lead, so those guys have way more to do with it than I think I do. If anything, both restarts I restarted the leader I got passed before I got to turn one, so I certainly didn’t do that right. I think you can always do better. I don’t think I’ve ever had a perfect race. I don’t even think I’ve had many perfect laps, so I think you can always improve and do better, but, certainly, we had a real fast race car that was very well prepared. We had really good pit stops and we had a great strategy, so it all worked out.”

DID YOU FEEL AT THE START OF THE YEAR WITH THE RFR IMPROVEMENT THAT YOU WERE FAR AWAY FROM A WIN AND GOING FORWARD TO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT OR JUST AS CONFIDENT AS BEFORE? “Once you start running better I guess you maybe feel closer to victory lane or feel like you’ve got a better shot, or you’re getting closer to winning again. But when you go that long without winning, you can talk about it all you want, but until it happens it doesn’t really feel real or like you’re that close. You can have some good runs and be close to it, but I think once you start putting together some good finishes, you start to feel like it’s closer and sooner or later it’ll happen and the law of averages will catch up. I think the three or four races before that we’ve had, I think our worst finish was sixth or something like that, so you could tell we were running better and we were getting closer to getting ourselves in that position.”

BUT NOT GETTING THERE CREATES A GAP? “Yeah, it does. You start to wonder or doubt or however you want to put it and if you’re ever gonna get back there, but, certainly, seeing what Carl could do at the end of last year and Greg, and how Carl started off the year and David being so fast every week, you certainly had more confidence that your equipment was capable of doing it and if we were able to get our stuff together, we were gonna have a shot. Whereas, a little less than a year ago none of our cars were running very good, so you’re kind of looking around saying, ‘Man, it probably won’t happen unless you get lucky on fuel mileage or pit strategy or something like that.’ But, certainly, when all the cars start running better you start to get more confidence and you feel better about it.”

DO YOU CARRY ANY LESS MOMENTUM FROM A RACE WHEN THE NEXT ONE IS A RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE? “I don’t know. Sometimes I sort of believe in the momentum thing and sometimes I don’t. I go off of more how we’re running, not necessarily how we’re always finishing, but we’ve been running better. Certainly, this weekend is totally different. In a way you kind of look at it as, not an off-weekend, but it’s nothing like we’re gonna do when we go back to racing at Richmond. It’s just all by itself, especially with this new two-car thing. These four races, to me, are just a total crapshoot and you don’t know what’s gonna happen or who is gonna have a shot at it. I’m interested to get in the race and see if I can get hooked up with Greg or get hooked up with somebody and make it work a little longer. In the 150s, Kevin and I got together and worked really well, and then he blew up on lap 10 or 12 of the 500 and that kind of got us behind for the day, so it’s really odd having to rely on somebody and have them rely on you that much to make it work.”

WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU FORGOT THAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU WIN A RACE? AND DID IT MEAN MORE TO DO IT WITH YOUR FAMILY A BIT BIGGER THAN BEFORE? “The only thing different is this week people actually want to talk to me (laughing). There wasn’t anything you forgot. It was a fun week. I had lunch with the engine shop guys and our race shop guys, and did some of that stuff with the team. Everybody kind of had a little spring in their step this week. It was fun to win with Katie and the kids there. I wish it was a day race so Kaylin could have been awake because she’s not quite two, but she kind of understands the racing thing – sort of – and what I do when she sees me on TV, so I think she would have liked that. But I think waking here up at midnight would have been a disaster, but she sort of gets it, I guess, but I was glad they were there. That was cool.”

DID YOU MEET MATTHEW HANSON AT CALIFORNIA, ONE OF THE MILITARY MEN THE RICHMOND RACE IS NAMED FOR? “I did meet him just for a minute. All of those stories are unbelievable. It’s neat to read the stories and then actually meet the people behind the stories. I didn’t really get to meet Matthew very much. Yeah, I’m looking forward because we always do a lot of stuff leading up to the race in Richmond, so I’m looking forward to spending some time with him and his family down there. All of the stories are amazing. I think it’s a really cool thing that Crown Royal does to probably make all of us, the fans and anybody who thinks about why the race is named that, realize what military families sacrifice. We can talk about it and you can see the wars on TV, but unless you really know somebody or hear somebody’s story to see how it really effects them, you probably don’t realize the magnitude of what they do and the suffering and what they all go through as when you get to know them. So I’m looking forward to spending a week with him down in Richmond and getting to know them a little better.”

HOW DO YOU ASSESS YOUR SEASON SO FAR AND A YEAR AGO YOU WERE SECOND IN POINTS. IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE TOO GOOD TOO SOON? “No, I don’t think you can ever run too good. It’s not like you start off strong and then you get tired or you wear out your good cars or any of that, so, no, I don’t believe in that. I think the first part of our season really couldn’t have been a lot better. Daytona was a disaster for us, but it’s just such a different kind of racing and I don’t think how you do there really reflects at all on racing for a championship or what you do every week. Other than that, it has been pretty good. We didn’t run very good at Phoenix, but everywhere else we’ve done really well. If we wouldn’t have had that flat at Vegas, I felt like we had a pretty dominant car there, but once we got behind it was just so hard to get caught back up. It just seems like it keeps gets harder and harder to do that every year, if you you get yourself behind on track position, but, other than that, our team has been doing great. Our cars have been really fast and more weeks than not we’ve been getting finishes at least as good as we’ve run or better in a few cases.”

THE SEASON IS SO LONG THAT SOMETIMES YOU SEE PEOPLE SLOW DOWN NEAR THE END. “I don’t know. I guess when I think back through most of the years I’ve been racing we always seem to start off – more times than not – pretty strong. Most of our wins probably happened in the first five or six weeks of the season. That’s the way it has almost always been, but there has been seasons – there was one year going into the chase that I won the last two races just before the chase started and we didn’t finish the chase strong for whatever reason, but we were running like we were gonna have a real shot. It’s kind of like the season never quits, except in the off-season you’re not sure of who learned what or how everybody is gonna come out of the box. For whatever reason, more times than not, we usually start the season really strong. I don’t know why that is, or maybe why we don’t finish quite as strong or why other people finish stronger. I don’t know why that is. I remember they used to talk about Tony would finish so strong and start so slow, but I don’t know why that is. I wish we did because you want to be able to run at your best every week.”

DOES THIS SEASON FEEL AT ALL LIKE WHEN YOU WON YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP? “First of all, I can hardly remember two weeks ago much less eight years ago or however long it has been. Every year is different. That year we were really consistent and it was obviously under a totally different point system with different cars and rules, and so many things have changed since then, but, certainly, the team dynamic is different than it was with Robbie. It’s different, but it certainly feels like we’re more competitive and it feels like things have come a little bit easier. There’s only so hard you can try, but it seems like sometimes no matter what, even when you’re running good, you don’t get good finishes. This year, at Bristol we probably had a 10th or 12th -place car and through pit stops and restarts and all that stuff we ended up finishing fourth, and we’ve had a few of those races that even when things didn’t go right, we finished out how to get a good finish. Now it’s early in the season, but that’s always important, if you’re gonna race for a championship is to always overachieve as far as your finishes go. So far that feels good, and hopefully we can keep that part of it up.”

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


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