Ford New Hampshire Fast Facts:
• Carl Edwards (3rd) and Matt Kenseth (10th) are Ford’s two drivers competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
• The only active Ford driver with a NSCS win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is Greg Biffle, when he won this event to kick off the Chase in 2008.
• Ford has 11 NSCS wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Jack Roush ranks second among car owners with seven series victories at the track.
• The last time a driver led every lap of a NSCS race was here at New Hampshire when then-Ford driver Jeff Burton did it on Sept. 17, 2000.
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Affliction Clothing Ford Fusion, comes into this weekend 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after finishing 21st last weekend at Chicagoland. Kenseth, who trails points leader Kevin Harvick by 24 points, held his weekly Q&A session at the team hauler before Friday’s practice.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Affliction Clothing Ford Fusion – HOW DOES IT FEEL KNOWING YOU RAN SO WELL LAST WEEK BUT DIDN’T GET THE FINISH YOU PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE? “It’s hard, but I guess you just have to forget about it because there’s nothing we can do about it now. The most disappointing part of me is that I felt like, as a team, we executed and did everything just right – from qualifying to practice to the race. We made the best adjustments at the end. We got off pit road first at the end. We took the lead at the end. We did all that stuff, but we just didn’t have good enough fuel mileage to be able to pull it off. It’s disappointing when you go to one of your better places and you feel like, as a team, you did everything right and when it’s all said and done you finished 21st. That’s disappointing.
DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHANCES AS WELL AS YOU RAN THERE? “Well, you feel good about the whole team’s performance for the weekend, but you feel bad about being parked 10th in the garage being 10th in points with having an opportunity to come out of there in good shape.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL THE FUEL MILEAGE RACES WE’VE HAD THIS YEAR? “This year there has been more of that than ever. It honestly could come into play every week. It probably won’t, but it could. It seems like we’ve had more of those races than we’ve ever had. With this tire and the Ethanol fuel, we use more quantity of fuel – we use less gasoline, but we’re using more fuel and our mileage isn’t as good, so therefore we run less laps between fuel stops. As hard as it is to pass, I mean, all of those things come into play. When the last caution falls is the biggest thing. If the caution would have fell four laps later, we would have run three more pace laps and we all would have made it and been able to race hard to the finish, but with the way the caution fell and a piece of metal being on the track, there’s not a lot anybody can do about that.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN THE CAR THAN WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW? “Yes and no. Obviously the slower you go the more fuel you’re gonna save, but, in our case last week, we were almost five laps short. We saved three-and-a-half laps, which is a lot under a 50-lap run, and the only way I could have saved it all is to go so slow we would have finished where we finished anyway, so our hands were kind of tied. We hoped we would make it or hoped to get a caution with 30 to go and still have decent track position, but I don’t really feel like there’s anything more any of us could have done in that spot to get a better finish.”
HOW DID THE WHOLE PUSH HAPPEN? “At the end of the day we might have finished a little better if I could have coasted back to the start-finish line. If we couldn’t have made it back to the start-finish line that’s where we would have finished anyway. As soon as you run out, I mean, the first thing I said on the radio was, ‘Get somebody to push me. Get somebody to push me.’ And Jimmy’s like, ‘You can’t be pushed on the last lap.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah, make sure nobody pushes me.’ So I don’t think anybody even got to J.J. (Yeley) to ask him. He was just trying to do me a favor, which is really nice of him. A lot of people wouldn’t do that. It’s easy to forget about that. At Charlotte, for instance, there was a teammate pushing a car around the track for four laps under yellow to save gas without his engine running, so there’s just so much of that that goes on that it slips your mind.”
WERE YOU THAT UPSET WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOU WERE PENALIZED? “Not really. After I got pushed and I realized it was the last lap and you can’t do that, I knew that was gonna happen. I didn’t know what the penalty was, for sure, but I knew we were in the wrong for what the rule book says, but it probably is something that needs to be looked at because what’s to stop you at the last race of the year and the guy leading the points runs out of gas, you get one of your teammates to go push him quick. That, and the under yellow stuff if a teammate is wrecked or you hire somebody that pushes you around so you can make it on fuel – even at a place like this when nobody else can. There are a lot of things with this style of racing that could happen. I know we don’t need more rules now. I don’t like more regulations or more rules either, but that’s probably something they should think about because it does change the outcome of the race somewhat unfairly. If you’re Penske, for instance. You’re a two-car team and you’re both in the Chase you don’t have somebody, or if you’re a four-car team and you’ve got somebody that’s wrecked and can push you under yellow if you can make it on gas and they can’t. I think it might not hurt to look at that.”
WHAT’S THE LONGEST CONVERSATION YOU’VE HAD WITH JIMMY FENNIG AS THE CREW CHIEF? HE’S NOT KNOWN AS MUCH OF A TALKER. “I’ve never timed it (laughing). We talk a lot. We’ve flown together a lot and sat beside each other for three hours, so we talk a lot.”
HE’S BEEN AROUND A LONG TIME. HOW HAS HE BEEN ABLE TO ADAPT FROM BEING AN OLD-SCHOOL RACER TO A LOT OF THE NEW TECHNOLOGY THAT’S COME INTO THE SPORT? “I think the biggest thing for Jimmy is that racing has always been number one. Even when he was successful before and made some money, he didn’t care about having a big boat or going on a big vacation or being on a TV show talking about how he did. He didn’t care about any of that, he still cared about racing all the time and that’s where he still is and I think that’s his biggest asset. That’s all he cares about is trying to win on Sunday and that’s all he’s ever done is raced. Besides hot rods, that’s about all he’s really super-interested in and focused on and I think if you’re talented like Jimmy and smart and a hard worker and you put all of your effort into it all the time, you’re gonna be successful and you’re gonna be able to roll with the changes.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED — HAVE YOU LOOKED AT HOW YOUR TEAM CAN RECOVER FROM LAST WEEK? “It’s still one week at a time. You’re one race in. It’s not that there is a Hail Mary you can throw, but it’s not time to throw it anyway. If the same thing happens and you’re short on fuel at a place like this, I mean, we couldn’t have done anything different last weekend so there’s no reason to fret over it any longer because it’s already passed. As a team, I don’t think we did anything as far as making a mistake or a wrong call. I don’t think we could have done anything different to get a better result. We did the best we could and it was pretty darn good. We should have been in the top three for sure by the end of the day and probably even had a shot to win, so, as a team, we can’t ask for anymore than that, so we’ll just go on this week and do the best we can again and hopefully get a better result.”
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE FUEL MILEAGE? “For us, the motor shop might be able to help you with some stuff, but there’s not a lot you can do and there’s also a cross there between horsepower and fuel mileage – which one do you want and how much do you want to give up to get more of the other. That’s something they’ve all got to weigh out, so we take what we’ve got and do the best we can with it. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about fuel mileage and we’d all race as hard as we can to the finish, but, like I said, the way the caution fell last week everybody was kind of in the same box.”
IS THIS A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU TO COME TO AFTER SOMETHING LIKE THAT? “I don’t mind coming up here. I don’t mind the track, it just hasn’t been a good one for me. I’ve struggled here, especially since they brought the COT car, but this place has always been a struggle for me and I don’t know why. That was one thing about Chicago. We were hoping to get off to a good start and feel good about it and even if you leave here, then we go to Dover which has been one of our best tracks in the past, so we felt good about that. Hopefully, we can rebound a little bit here and get a good finish. We have run well here before, but it’s been a while.”