Ford Dover Cup Post Race Quotes (Kenseth Presser)

MATT KENSETH 1st Place Press Conference

MATT KENSETH, NO. 17 WILEY X FORD FUSION (FINISHED 3RD) “Obviously it was a great day for us and exciting for me to win here at Dover, especially the way we did it. It seems like we have lost more that way than we have won. It really turned out good and I was happy we were able to pull it off. The race was really a struggle for us. When the clouds were out and before the rubber built up I thought we had one of the best cars on the track. We were pretty fast and it seems like we drove to third or fourth from 24th where we started. I felt good about things. Then the sun came out and the rubber started building and our handling got way off. Jimmy made some great adjustments today, short pitting a little bit and getting us ahead of our competition. He got us five or six spots and that got us in position to get the two tires at the end of the race.”

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO GET TO MARK (MARTIN) AND HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO PASS HIM ONCE YOU GOT TO HIM? “Well, it was difficult. The hardest thing today for me besides the rubber building up under green was they really didn’t get the rubber off the track before a restart. What would happen if you were stuck on the bottom and the leader took off you would get all that stuff on your tires and you had to run through it for two laps and it was so much slower. One time I restarted third and we were back to eighth by the second lap. Marcos had a bad restart too. I was really concerned about that because Mark took the top and I was hoping he would take the bottom, because he likes to take the bottom. I would have felt a little better about that. I got behind him and was able to run up on him. With the new tires and being able to get the gas down that early we were able to get a good run on him.”

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DID YOU HAVE SAFETY IN NUMBERS THERE AT THE END WITH OTHERS TAKING TWO TIRES? “Yeah, that definitely helps and I think that was part of our thinking with four. We were going to come out most likely behind the three or four guys we were running behind. A few guys were going to sprinkle in there on two and that would have been tough to do in that many laps. That always helps. It is nice to have a little buffer. The other guys that got two were all running behind us and I felt like we had a better car than most of the guys that got two if I could just get a clean restart. That helped.”

WAS THE KEY TO THE RACE YOUR STARTING POSITION? SHOULD YOU HAVE BY RIGHTS BEEN UP THERE WITH THE GUYS AT THE FRONT OF THE RACE? “There were times in the race where I felt like we had one of the best cars and times when we were probably 14th or 15th place car. It seemed like for awhile we really fell back. There were times we ran good and times we didn’t. At the end we made good adjustments to get it better again. The Goodyear tires are great and we didn’t have any failures today but the last couple of years the rubber builds up and makes it hard to pass. I knew one of the front three cars on the restart was going to win the race because the rubber builds up and makes it almost impossible to pass, at least for me compared to early in the race. The last few races here you have seen that track position was really important at the end of the race.”

HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO TAKING FOUR TIRES? “Jimmy could probably answer that better because we came in and I know we were both thinking about it and in the back of my head I was thinking I should almost drive by pit road and restart in front and see what happens. I looked to my mirror and saw everybody on the apron and I thought it wouldn’t be good for me if I did that and restarted and finished about 15th. We came down pit road and as I slid into the stall I keyed the mic and said, ‘Jimmy, are you sure you don’t want to try two?’ and he didn’t hesitate and said, ‘two tires, two tires’ and it was in plenty of time. It was no problem and it went smooth almost like we planned it.”

WHAT KIND OF CONFIDENCE DO YOU HAVE NOW WITH TWO VICTORIES WITH THE WILD CAR POSITIONS FOR THE CHASE? “It is going to be important and you want the wins if you have to fall back on that. I think Jimmy’s goal and Jack’s and mine is to not have to worry about that. On my mind is to be up there and try to lead those points going into the Chase and try to make the Chase and be in championship form and be able to put together more wins and race for a championship. We don’t want to have to slide in off of wins if we are 18th in points or something. We want to go up there and race like this every week.”

JIMMY, DOES THIS WIN ALLOW YOU TO TAKE MORE CHANCES NOW THAT YOU HAVE TWO WINS AND GOOD CHANCE AT THE WILD CARD AND MATT, WOULD IT BE IRONIC IF YOU GOT IN ON WINS AFTER IT SEEMED THE WHOLE CHASE WAS SET UP AFTER YOUR 2003 CHAMPIONSHIP? JIMMY FENNIG: “Well, I look at things different. I am the type of person that is here to win and that is what it is about. If you aren’t winning and you go into the Chase and you aren’t able to win races or your equipment isn’t good enough to win races then you don’t belong there. It is all about winning in my book. MATT KENSETH: “I was thinking about the win thing a little bit, not necessarily because of the Chase or anything like that but more because until a few weeks ago it had been two years since we won. When I saw that, honestly because we hadn’t won in awhile, you think that it isn’t a top-12 thing anymore and we have to make sure we are in the top-10. It is nice to be able to do both. Hopefully we can be solidly in the top-10 and have some wins at the same time.”

LOOKING AT THE LAST THREE RACES, WHAT KIND OF MOMENTUM WERE YOU LOOKING FOR HERE TO TRY TO REGAIN THAT MOMENTUM AND WAS THERE A POINT EARLY IN THE RACE WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD GET UP THERE? “The last three weeks have been really frustrating for me. I don’t think I have done a very good job. Talladega I don’t think we could do anything about that, it was just dumb luck. Richmond being involved in that wreck, if I had been more aware of my surrounding I could have avoided that. Last week too, even though the car outside me was low I didn’t do a good job and ran into the 9 car and got a slow leak in the tire and a half hour into the Southern 500 we were three laps down. The last three weeks have been really frustrating. Our cars have been really fast. At Richmond that was the best car I have had there since they introduced the COT car which was really encouraging. Once in awhile if you have a bad finish but are running good then you feel better about it and it gives you hope that you can have days like today.”

DO YOU THINK ANYBODY HAD ANYTHING FOR THE 99 OR 48 IF THAT LAST CAUTION HADN’T COME OUT AND BROUGHT PIT STRATEGY INTO PLAY? “I don’t know. I don’t know if anybody was catching them because I couldn’t see them so I don’t know what was going on up there. But I will add to that, nobody had anything for the 99 last week at the caution either.”

JACK, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WIN? JACK ROUSH: “I actually wanted to comment on that last question and I will start with that. If anybody was watching the lap trackers, Matt drove from 23rd to top-five. As hard as it is to pass and as hard as it is to deal with the COT in turbulent air, when I saw that I figured the 17 was the equal of the cars running up front based on my look at it. They didn’t back into this thing. They deserve to be up there and Jimmy, actually Matt initiated but between the two of them they made the gutsy call for two tires. As many times as they have been burned by it I was surprised they did that. It is my pleasure to be with this team. Every year, this is my 24th year in Cup and I didn’t start until I was 46 years old when I started with my Cup program. Of course that was with Mark Martin and when I was watching Matt and Mark race out there today. The reason Matt came to my attention years ago was because Mark told me that Matt was the guy that asked the right questions and had a good attitude about his racing and was a really good person that I needed to have a conversation with and see if we could get involved with our program. Matt and Mark have that connection past the race teams and a mutual respect. I was sure that was going to be okay for them. In fact the thing that had me concerned was I was afraid we were going to find ourselves saying ‘You go first, no you go first’, I thought either one of them might be slow to race as hard as they need to with the other one to let the issue be resolved.”

JIMMY AND MATT, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP IN THAT MATT MADE THAT CALL THERE. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU GUYS TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH EACH OTHER? MATT KENSETH: “Jimmy made the call. I just suggested it. He made the call and told the crew to do two. I have known him for a long time and he might tell you when he grabs the mic here that he isn’t comfortable with me yet, I don’t know. It didn’t take long for me. You go through a little bit to understand somebody about how loose is he and how urgent does he sound or whatever. It does take a little bit to learn that but I have always respected Jimmy and really enjoy working for him. He has a no-nonsense racing approach which is how I grew up racing. We have a lot of fun racing together.”

JIMMY FENNIG: “I enjoy working with Matt. This ain’t the first time I have worked with him. We worked on the Busch cars and I enjoyed it back then. It takes a little while to know how you can read a guy and to know exactly what he is looking for in a race car and give it to him. I think everything is going good right now and we will keep going from there.”

WHERE WOULD YOU RANK YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON AS FAR AS WHAT IT MIGHT HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR? DO YOU SEEM AS STRONG IN YEARS PAST WHEN YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP OR TOO EARLY TO JUDGE? “Well, I think for sure this is the most competitive we’ve been since this car was introduced, however long that’s been. The whole organization has been building better, faster race cars. Doug and those guys have done a wonderful job having the off season to work on the FR9 to get us some more power and the durability along with it. That’s made a big difference, as well. It’s the full season that Jimmy and I are doing the Cup thing together, had the wintertime to get things how he wanted it at the shop, build the cars the way he wanted it. I feel good today obviously because we’re sitting here. Who knows what next week is going to bring. I feel pretty good about it now because even some of the bad finishes we had, we still perform much better than we have in the past. We perform better at more places than we have. It really feels for sure like we’re on the right track.

MATT, YOU MADE YOUR DEBUT HERE, WON TWO RACES HERE NOW, WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK BRINGS OUT THE SUCCESS IN YOUR RACING? “Well, I don’t really know. Like any track, you have to have a fast race car first. It’s always been a track I really enjoy. Every week somebody asks me what my favorite track is when you go to hospitality. I tell them this one every time. I really enjoyed this track. It’s one of those tracks that’s a challenge to get around fast, whether you’re racing someone or not. I look forward to the challenge. It’s fast. You have to attack it. It’s just one I’ve always really liked.”

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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