Ford Dover Fast Facts:
• Greg Biffle leads active Ford drivers in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Dover with two.
• Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth have one NSCS win each at the Monster Mile.
• Jack Roush ranks second among car owners with eight series wins at Dover.
• Ford Racing has 25 all-time NSCS wins at Dover.
• Did you know that Richard Petty won the first NSCS race held at Dover in 1969 driving a Ford?
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after a sixth-place finish last weekend in New Hampshire. Kenseth visited the infield media center at Dover this morning to talk about this weekend’s race and how wife Katie is doing after her midweek practice accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway while preparing for a charity event.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COMING TO DOVER AND MAKING A STATEMENT HERE? “I always love coming to Dover. It’s always been my favorite track. It’s been a track that I really enjoy the challenge of it and I made my first Cup start here a long time ago now, so it’s one I always look forward to. Lately, we’ve been able to do pretty well here. I guess that doesn’t mean a lot for this weekend necessarily, but it has been a good track for us and one I always look forward to.”
HOW IS KATIE DOING? YOU SAID YOU BLAMED YOURSELF THE OTHER DAY. ARE YOU OVER THAT NOW? “Well, I just blame myself for putting her in the car to start with, but, yeah, she’s doing pretty well. She’s about the same. She’s really sore, but getting a little bit better. I’m trying to help as much as I can, but I think it’s hard for her to heal up with two kids and one arm and keep moving, so I think it will be a while but I think she was feeling pretty good yesterday. She’s probably a little bit more sore today.”
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF JIMMIE JOHNSON’S SITUATION RIGHT NOW BEING 10TH IN POINTS? SOME SAY HE’S OUT OF IT AND SOME SAY YOU CAN’T COUNT HIM OUT. WHERE DO YOU STAND? “I haven’t really thought about it. I didn’t know he was in a situation. He’s not much worse than me (in the standings). I think he’s been back there before. There are eight races to go, which is a ton of races. We’ll just have to see how he does the rest of the time. I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve had my own problems to think about how we’re gonna do and climb back up there after Chicago. I’ve just really been thinking about our race team and haven’t really looked at the standings and the numbers to see where everybody is because I don’t really care. I’m just working on trying to get us running good and finishing the best we can every week.”
WITH WHAT THEY’VE ACCOMPLISHED WOULD YOU EVER COUNT THEM OUT? “No. I’ve said it for about six or seven years straight now that I think they’re the favorites and they’re the guys until somebody can knock them off and prove otherwise.”
JIMMIE IS 29 BACK AND YOU ARE 26. HOW FAR BACK CAN YOU BE AND STILL CLIMB BACK INTO IT? IS THAT A HUGE HOLE OR IS EVERYBODY STILL IN THIS THING? “I don’t know about everybody, but him being only three points behind me, I hope he’s still in it because if you’re saying he’s out that means we probably are too, but there are still eight races to go. That’s a ton of races. The only way you know whether you can come out of that hole or not depends on how you do and also how everybody else does as well. Even if you win every race and the other guy who is leading finishes second every race, you can’t come out of it, so it depends on how everybody else does, it depends on how you do, obviously, and eight races is a lot of races. I know we have to talk about it every week, but it’s a lot of races. I suspect after this weekend you’ll probably be able to pick a few people that might be out and every week along the line you’ll probably be able to do that, but until you’re mathematically out, I still think you’re basically in it. I don’t spend a lot of time studying the points because the system has always been pretty easy to figure out. The higher you finish, the more points you get and you just go out and race hard and finish as high as you can every week. You can’t control what anybody else does. All you can do is control what you and your race team does and you just put forth the best effort you can every week, get the best finishes you can and hope at the end of the day that you’re up in there and have more points than the rest of them.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Blackwell Angus/Cargill Ford Mustang, is leading the NASCAR Nationwide standings by 14 points going into this weekend’s OneMain Financial 200. He spoke to members of the media on Friday morning about his hopes for maintaining that advantage.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 6 Blackwell Angus/Cargill Ford Mustang – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS STRETCH RUN? “For us, every time I’ve come to Dover we’ve had a better finish. We finished fourth the last race here and had a really fast Mustang, but we just needed a little bit more so if we can make that a little bit better, I think, obviously, we’ll have a good race here but I’m really looking at the last six race tracks. They’re really good race tracks for us. We’ve run really well at the rest of them. Jamie Allison from Ford came in this week and we’ve got a lot of things going. We’re obviously going for the driver’s championship. We’ve got to get Carl the owner’s championship (in Nationwide) and then we’ve got to get Ford the manufacturer’s championship (in Nationwide), so there are a lot of things going. Ford is putting a lot of effort into it and we’ve got a lot of things to accomplish this year and I think we can do it as a race team.”
WHAT DO THINGS LOOK LIKE FOR 2012? WHAT DOES JACK SAY? “We haven’t really talked about it. Right now, my biggest focus is this Nationwide championship. I think I’ve always said after running a couple years in Nationwide I would like to run maybe a partial schedule or something just to kind of get my feet wet. I don’t want to jump into things too quick, but, like I said, I haven’t talked to Jack about it. Right now, our first order of business is getting this Nationwide Series championship wrapped up and once we get that done, maybe we’ll sit down and have some talks about it, but, right now, we haven’t had any talks about it. It was really cool to get our first start at Charlotte in the Wood Brothers car and had a lot of fun and learned a lot. We finished 11th and qualified ninth, but we didn’t run as strong as I felt like we needed to to really feel ready for it, so there’s just a lot to learn if we do run it, but we’ll have to see where that goes.”
WILL YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE THIS YEAR? “No, nothing this year.” WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP? “It would mean a lot, it would definitely be my biggest accomplishment ever in my racing career. After the way last year went, struggling so bad the first part of the year and turning it around at the end of the year, it really makes you appreciate where we are right now as a race team. The same guys are on my car as we had last year and it would just mean a lot to everybody at Ford, my family and everybody on this race team to get that championship. We came into the year thinking that we were gonna be able to run for it and now that we’ve got six races left and have a shot at it, it’s exactly where we need to be.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MENTALITY HEADING INTO THESE FINAL FEW RACES OF THE SEASON? “I think you’ve got to do what got you here. We go out each and every week and we feel like we have an opportunity to win. We feel like we bring great race cars to the track and that’s what we do. We go out there, we practice, we work on our car, we don’t worry about what anybody else is doing, we just make our car better and better and we go out and race and try to get the best result that we can. I think you have to be on your game, you have to go out and feel like you can win and try to win because Elliott Sadler is not gonna finish outside of the top 10, so you have to do something better to beat him in this championship. We’ve got to go out and do the same thing we’ve done all year and that’s go out and consistently run in the top five and challenge for some wins.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. CONTINUED — ARE YOU READY TO RUN CUP? “Am I ready? I think you have to have the confidence when you go do it that you’re ready. I don’t lack any confidence. It’s something that I really want to do. I feel like the time that I got to run the Cup car I got to test it at Kentucky in the fuel injection test, so I really feel like the power kind of suits my driving style a little bit being able to play with the throttle and things like that coming from dirt cars and sprint cars, so I feel like the cars maybe suit my style a little bit better than the Nationwide cars, where you have to almost be wide open and on the edge at some of these mile-and-a-halves the whole time, I feel like you can really drive the Cup car. I feel like that part of it I’m ready to do.”
KANSAS IS UP NEXT WEEKEND. WHAT’S YOUR ATTITUDE FOR NEXT WEEK? “I’m really looking forward to Kansas. We got to do the Goodyear tire test there earlier this year, which will hopefully benefit us. Last year, that was one of the good races we really had heading down the homestretch. We ran in the top five and I think we got a penalty and had to go to the back and drove our way back up to the front. We restarted third, I think, on the last restart and got trapped on the bottom and finished sixth, but had a really fast race car and ran really well, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.”