Ford Dover Friday Advance (Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES                   

Fed Ex 400 (Friday Advance)

May 13, 2011                   

CarParts.com
American Muscle

Dover International Speedway

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Wiley X Sunglasses Ford Fusion, sits tenth in the current points standings as he returns to the site of his Cup debut when he subbed for Bill Elliott on September 20, 1998. Since that first run, Kenseth has posted two poles, a win, ten top-five’s and 15 top-10’s at Dover in the Cup series. Two of Kenseth’s five career Sprint Cup poles have come at Dover, a track he calls his favorite on the circuit.

WE HAVE SEEN TREVOR BAYNE AND REGAN SMITH GET THEIR FIRST WINS THIS YEAR AND YOU GOT YOUR FIRST WIN IN THE 600. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?  “It was a long time ago but I remember it like it wasn’t that long ago. It was really fun for me. Dale Jr. and I moved up to the Cup series at the same time and he dominated most of the night and got a bad set of tires and fell back. We were able to get up there and get by him and then get by Bobby to win it. It was an exciting night and there was a rain delay in the middle of it, so it was like a five-and-a-half hour race. It was pretty cool.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GET IT AT SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS EVENT?  “I don’t think there are any Cup races that aren’t huge events. Some races you will have surprise winners like plate races and road courses but to win the Southern 500 is a huge deal for sure.”

THERE ARE FIVE GUYS RACING NOW THAT HAVE GOTTEN THEIR FIRST WIN IN THE 600. IS THAT UNUSUAL?  “You never know. The competition is so close these days and there are a lot of guys that run good. In Regan’s case you could see it coming. They have been running better all the time and had good pit calls. It was a tough place to pass at and they did everything right. They did a great job on the two restarts. There are certain guys you can see it coming. It was a surprise but I don’t think it was a shock.”

THE ALL-STAR RACE. IS THAT BY FAR THE MOST UNIQUE EVENT OF THE YEAR?  “It is always fun. You get the team involved with the pit crew challenge during the week and then we get to use them to qualify. It is always a fun week. We are close to home and a lot of the crew guy’s families can bring their families out which makes it a fun week.”

DO YOU APPROACH THAT RACE LESS OR MORE SERIOUSLY OR THE SAME AS A TYPICAL WEEK?  “Probably pretty close to the same. It is a different event because of the purse involved and no points but you still want to do the best you can every race you are in, no matter what the event is. There are things about it that make it different but really you approach it the same.”

DO YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF TRY TO MAP OUT A DIFFERENT STRATEGY DUE TO THE FORMAT?  “To be honest with you I haven’t looked at the format this year. The way last year was and the way they are trying to do these things they handcuff you tighter every year. I think there is a one or two lap window you pit in and last year you had to get four tires before the last 10-lap segment. There isn’t as much they allow you to do to improvise as you could before.””

IS THE ALL-STAR RACE THE RACE WHERE YOU CAN TAKE OUT REVENGE ON SOMEBODY SINCE THERE ARE NO POINTS ATTACHED?  “That hasn’t even crossed my mind. I haven’t been in that position for quite awhile, which I am thankful for.”

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ALL-STAR MOMENT?  “For me it was the year we won it. That was the year Ryan Newman won so many races. He stayed out on tires and we got new tires and it was really hard to get by him still. We were able to get tires and get by him right toward the end. That was a really fun race for me.”

WITH THE WEATHER FORECAST THIS WEEKEND. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THAT MENTALLY?  “I don’t think you can do anything different. Like at Darlington there was a difference because it rained during practice. I don’t think it is supposed to rain today. If there is no rain today you aren’t going to do anything different. You always want to get your fastest lap and get your draw for qualifying and all that stuff. You want to make sure you get one fast lap down in case they go by practice speed for qualifying. With this goofy schedule of doing everything on Friday, hopefully we will still get all our practice.”

YOU HAVE WON HERE AND ROUSH HAS DONE WELL HERE. WHAT IS THE KEY FOR YOU TO DO WELL AT THIS TRACK?  “I have always really liked this track. We have done fairly well here, although it has been sort of feast or famine. It is a track that I enjoy. I can’t really speak for the rest of the guys but it is like any track. You have to have fast cars.”

WHEN NASCAR PUTS A DRIVER ON PROBATION, ARE YOU CLEAR WHAT THAT MEANS?  “Regular probation or double-secret probation? Double-secret probation is different.  No, seriously, I guess it means they are watching you closer. Kind of like when you go up to bad and already have a strike or two. I think that is about it.”

NASCAR SAYS TO STAY AWAY FROM EVERYONE AND EACH OTHER, REFERRING TO KYLE AND KEVIN. HOW DO YOU STAY AWAY FROM EVERYONE WHEN YOU ARE RACING?  “I am not sure how you want me to answer that. Last week they had a run in and probably would have been okay except they had all that stuff afterwards on pit road. I think NASCAR probably doesn’t want to see that. You don’t want people in harm’s way on pit road. I think they are basically saying that you already had your run in and they don’t want to see it again or they will probably step in and make the penalties harder.  That is my take on it anyway.”

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN PERSONAL LINE OF WHERE YOU WILL DO AND NOT DO?  “Every situation is a little different. Things happen fast on the race track and your emotions get away fast. Sometimes when you have two people that get together, maybe they have a past and that might be in the back of their minds and it might change the way they react. I think that every single situation is unique.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing are teaming up this weekend to bring attention to relief efforts for those affected by the recent flooding of the Mississippi River.  Stenhouse, a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is sporting a special hood on the No. 6 Ford Mustang this weekend that will be autographed by Stenhouse Jr. and auctioned off through the NASCAR Foundation in an effort to generate additional revenue for the cause.  Stenhouse talked with Ford Racing about the devastation in his home state that he witnessed first hand recently.

YOU WERE BACK IN YOUR HOME STATE RECENTLY AND SAW HOW THE FLOOD HAS AFFECTED THE AREA. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?  “I went down there for Mothers Day and I knew how much it had been raining and talking to my parents about it but it was nothing like when you get down there and see it. I drove around and looked at some of it and it is really bad. I called and asked if we could do something for it since we don’t have a sponsor on the car I felt it was a perfect opportunity to help the people from Mississippi, especially since I am from there. It is an honor to be able to help them out.”

WHEN YOU SAY THE DAMAGE, WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING THAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND?  “I was just thankful that my parents were okay. We are far enough away from the river that we don’t have any problems but some people aren’t so fortunate. You have the casino under water and all those people are out of work now. Farmers have crops that are destroyed and their equipment and houses are ruined. People can’t live in their homes. The first thing I thought was that I was fortunate that nobody in my family was affected by it, but the whole state of Mississippi and all the way down the river is affected.  It isn’t just Mississippi either, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and a bunch of other areas are affected by this. Being that I am from Mississippi I felt like I needed to help them out.”

HOW DOES THAT CONVERSATION GO TO GET THIS SPECIAL HOOD SCHEME? DID YOU HAVE TO CONVINCE JACK?  “No, I don’t go to Jack and ask that. The sales team and marketing team do a good job with putting stuff like that together and of course I have no idea how to do that stuff. They have done a good job with it and it shows that Roush is supporting it and NASCAR is supporting it and so am I. I didn’t need to call Jack, but if I had, I know for sure he would have been in full support right away because he is in full support of what we are doing this weekend.”

HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP FROM HOME THAT SEE THIS HOOD DRIVING AROUND DOVER THIS WEEKEND?  “They can go to www.nascar.com/unites and there is a page there that you can go on. There is a certain page where you can go and give for the Mississippi relief efforts directly. That is one way to do it. I also know the American Red Cross is doing a lot with this too. I am going to sign the hood and auction it off after the race and I am going to give my portion of the winnings this weekend to the cause as well.”

OTHER THAN BRINGING AWARENESS TO THE CAUSE THIS WEEKEND, WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THIS RACE THIS WEEKEND?  “I have only ran here twice and I feel like we have gotten better each and every time. The concrete tracks have been a struggle for me but we ran well at Nashville and Bristol this year. If you take those two tracks and look at them we finished fifth and we were running second at Bristol so we have good hopes for this weekend. We have worked really hard on the setup this weekend and all the engineers are doing simulations and throwing everything at it. Hopefully we have a good package to start with. We don’t get much practice here which is tough. We have to keep clicking off top-10’s and when we have a top-five car like at Darlington and Richmond where we made mistakes, including me getting in the wall at Darlington which cost us a top-five finish. When we have a top-five car we have to make sure that is where we finish.”

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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