Ford Kansas Friday Advance (Matt Kenseth)


TP 400 (Friday Advance)

June 3, 2011
American Muscle

Kansas Speedway


•    There are 11 Fords participating in the Inaugural STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.

•    Patrick Carpentier will drive the No. 32 U.S. Chrome Ford.

•    The Fords of Andy Lally (No. 71 TRG Motorsports), Tony Raines (No. 37 Ford) and Travis Kvapil (No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford) must qualify on time for Sunday’s race.

•    Fords have fared well at Kansas Speedway since the first race in 2001, claiming victory three times. •    Greg Biffle is the most recent Ford winner, taking the checkered flag last year.

•    Biffle also set the race record at Kansas last season running at 138.077 mph (2:54:02).

•    Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth holds the qualifying record at the track with a lap of 180.856 mph (29.858 sec) in 2005.

•    Biffle, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon are the only two time winners at Kansas.

•    Ford owner Jack Roush is tied with Rick Hendrick with three wins each at Kansas.

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Affliction Clothing Ford Fusion, met with media members outside his hauler prior to the first Cup practice session Friday at Kansas Speedway.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COMING HERE THIS TIME OF YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME AND WHAT IMPACT IT WILL HAVE?  “We haven’t talked about it a whole bunch. You can’t really control the weather. Nobody has been here this time of year really. We will start off with the things we have learned this year and apply that to last year’s setup when Greg won last fall. That should give us a good starting point and we will adjust around that.”

WHEN JIMMY FENNIG COMES OVER THE RADIO AND TELLS YOU TO SAVE FUEL, WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS AND WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND?  “We really haven’t been close enough this year to have to save fuel and make it last. We were so far in the back and had to run hard and trying to get track position this last time. To save fuel there are some obvious things like slowing down and the use of the breaks and some other obvious things.”

YOU WERE IN THE BACK WHEN ALL THE MESS BROKE OUT AT THE START OF THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED LAST WEEKEND. DID YOU EXPECT A CAUTION TO COME OUT?  “I am not in the business of calling races, so I don’t know if there should have been one of not. I expected a caution just because from where I was there was a lot of smoke. I actually slowed down. I probably could have made up five spots but I thought there was going to be a caution. I had just gotten the lucky dog and I didn’t want to run into something trying to get up there and hurt somebody. I slowed up and by the time I realized there wasn’t going to be a caution I was all the way down through one and two and probably could have made some spots up. I will have to be more aware of that next time.”

DO YOU FEEL IT WAS AN UNSAFE SITUATION?  “From where I was, everybody was just stopping and there was a lot of smoke and stuff. I never actually saw any cars spun out or anything like that so I don’t know. I know there was a lot of smoke and stuff flying and people hitting their breaks. The spotters were saying that people were wrecking and I was looking for the caution but I probably should have worked harder to get through there as fast as I could.”

DO YOU THINK CAUTIONS SHOULD BE CALLED DIFFERENTLY WITH 200 THAN WITH TWO TO GO?  “Not necessarily. I think they should just be consistent and I think they have been pretty consistent when it comes to that. It is not easy to call a race. You want the fans to see a green flagged finish but you also have to have the safety of the fans and competitors and people on pit road on your mind at the same time. I know when they came back around there was nobody on the track and all the cars had cleared off there, so I don’t know. Part of the reason to have three green-while-checkered finish attempts is so that if you do have a mess like that on a restart then the fans can still see a green flag finish. There was two of those left, but like I said I didn’t really see it. I was on the tail end of the lead lap and I probably could have gotten a top-10 finish. Everybody is in a different situation and us as drivers are always going to look at it as what helps us the best in that particular race.”

DO YOU LIKE THIS PLACE? IS THERE ANYTHING THAT MAKES IT STAND OUT FROM THE OTHER MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS YOU GO TO?  “Yeah, everybody asks about the cookie cutter tracks but all of them are really unique. This one is closest to Chicago but it has a little less banking. It reminds me the most of Chicago when you get here and get out on the track. Other than that it is really not similar to any of the other tracks we go to.”

HOW ABOUT NEXT WEEK? DO YOU LIKE GOING TO POCONO?  IT SEEMS LIKE WE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO POCONO. “That is because it takes like a day to get the race done. I don’t mind Pocono. I am glad they are making some safety improvements because I always felt like it was one of the more dangerous places we go to, so I am glad for that. There have been a couple races we have ran okay there. I don’t think it is one of my personal best places and when you go somewhere you don’t excel at you don’t look forward to it as much as a place you feel like you are better at.”

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT POCONO?  “Man, you better find somebody that has been successful there.  It is really like any other track. You have to get through the corners faster than everybody else. They are three really unique corners there and you have to be able to get through turn one really good and turn three really good because those are the two keys. As long as you get through the other two turns then it feel like you can break even on the tunnel turn. It is really unique and you have to be able to carry a lot of momentum.”

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF POCONO? IS IT THE 500 MILES? “There are a lot of things about Pocono. Fuel mileage is a big deal because it is such a big track and you can’t run very many raps on fuel. All three corners are very unique. Turn one is really rough and bumpy and it is hard to find a good groove and get through there fast. Three and four are a challenge to get through fast as well. It is just kind of everything. The straightaway is really long and you spend that time thinking about the corners. It is the corners I guess that is the biggest thing because it is a challenge to get all three of them right and it will be even more of a challenge now with shifting again.”

ELDORA IS COMING UP. HOW SPECIAL IS THAT?  “It is a fun event and it is really neat that Tony can keep getting this thing put together and get the drivers to commit to getting up there. He has given a ton of money away over the years to some really great causes. It is fun to go up there and see how relaxed Tony is out there and how much fun he has out there on the tractor and four-wheeler. That is fun for me. I have never raced dirt expect for there so I always look forward to getting up there and having a good time.”

DO YOU HAVE FAVORITE CARS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO RUN EVERY WEEKEND? “With the old car you used to have favorite cars and knew how they would react but with these cars I haven’t found any of that really because they are a lot closer. The old cars you could change things around on the chassis or have a body that was on a little different even though you thought it was the same it was enough difference that the car would just run for whatever reason. With these things there are some little subtle differences but they are so close to the same that it is hard to pick out a big difference.”

A NUMBER OF THE ROUSH CARS HAVE USED TWO CHASSIS, PROBABLY A LOT MORE THAN LAST YEAR. I KNOW YOU FOUND SOME THINGS LAST SEASON, HOW DOES IT HELP HAVING THE NEW CHASSIS AS OPPOSED TO SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN RUN EVERY YEAR?  “There are several reasons for having new cars this year. One reason is going to full time COT in the Nationwide cars. All last year’s cars we basically gave to the Nationwide shop because you feel like you should be able to build better cars. Hopefully you are a year smarter and able to make your cars nicer. Basically we passed most of the cars down there and try to do a little better job.”

AT THE END OF THESE RACES, SO MUCH IS MADE ON PIT CALLS. IS IT CHALLENGING TO KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THAT? WHAT IS IT LIKE AT THE END OF THE RACES FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW?  “It depends on the day. I have always tried to keep up with it the best I can. There are probably a lot of times I can’t help the guys in the box but then there are days that I can or have helped them. I try to pay attention to how my car is handling so I can give them some indications of how things are.  If I hate my car and it is running bad then they know I will probably need four tires. You try to keep a handle of things that are going on but weeks like last week when we had that long run at the end and they said we were short on fuel and not close enough where we can save, there wasn’t much to keep track of. You just run as hard as you can and hope it turns out. We ended up getting that caution and it didn’t turn out. There isn’t much that could have been done there.”

SOME TEAMS ARE MAKING MORE AGGRESSIVE CALLS REGARDING TWO OR FOUR TIRES. IF I AM YOUR CREW CHIEF AND I MAKE AN AGGRESSIVE CALL, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT YOU IF IT WORKS AND IF IT DOESN’T?  “I think every call you make is a gamble these days even if it is the quote unquote safe call. Getting four tires sometimes is a gamble. They know more than you know and they are up there and see what all is going on and you just give them feedback about the car. Every track is different. There are certain tracks where you will want four tires no matter what unless it is a real short run at the end. A lot of that depends on the tire they give you too and how much it is dropping off. A lot of times you don’t know that until you get into the race.”

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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