Ford Saturday Advance (Matt Kenseth)

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

Saturday Advance (July 28, 2012)
American Muscle

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Fifth Third Ford Fusion, heads into Sunday as the points leader and spoke to media Saturday afternoon at the Brickyard.

MATT KENSETH, NO. 17 Fifth Third Ford Fusion — TALK ABOUT HAVING A WEEK OFF AND COMING HERE TO A HISTORIC TRACK LIKE THIS. “Yeah, it was nice to have an off week and we didn’t really do a lot. I spent some time with the girls and Ross which was fun. It was strange not coming in until Saturday and packing everything in this morning. We haven’t had a lot of time to think about what we need to fix or what we are missing. It happens pretty fast. The Brickyard is a historic place and I feel like it is a privilege to race at this race track. It is one I look forward to and in my mind is the second biggest race of the year. You always look forward to this one.”

WHEN YOU LEFT HERE LAST YEAR YOU WERE PRETTY FRUSTRATED THAT IT CAME DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU HAVE WORKED ON AT ALL TO GET BETTER AT? CAN YOU DO ANYTHING TO GET BETTER AT THAT? “There are some funny stories about that in my mind. Our fuel mileage has been pretty good this year. I get the same fuel mileage as my teammates now that we have EFI. I think that has changed the game there a little bit. I think everybody is way closer to the same than what they were before, or at least it feels like that. We haven’t had any real fuel mileage races and we have been pretty good on mileage. I haven’t been as concerned about that as I have been in years past.”

DID YOU DO ANY SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN THAT FIRST PRACTICE? “I think I made it faster. I was just telling Katie a few minutes ago that I have been really clumsy today. I don’t know what my problem is. I kicked over my coffee coming out of the motor home and then I hit the wall on the first lap on the straightaway and I don’t know how I managed that. Then I walked back to the hauler and tripped and almost fell face first in the hauler. It has been an eventful day. I am hoping to make it through qualifying safely and get back to the motor home without anything bad happening and hopefully be better tomorrow. It just scraped the paint up a little bit though to answer your question.”

WONDERING WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR YOU TO WIN TOMORROW AND HOW REALISTIC IT IS FOR YOU TO PULL THAT OFF? “The Brickyard is a huge race and everybody wants to win at Indianapolis. I feel like there have been a lot of times here we have had one of the best cars and ran really competitively and felt like we had chances to win but haven’t for whaever reason. One year two tires beat us, we got beat on fuel once, we had a piece of lead come out of someone’s car and wipe our car out when we were running second once. We just always have issues, we have blown tires, it seems like we always have something keep us back. I feel like this has been one of our better tracks in terms of performance. Hopefully we figure things out because we haven’t been good today at all. If we don’t’ get it a lot better than we did today we won’t have a chance tomorrow. My guys have been doing a super job. When they drop the rag on Sunday we should be good and hopefully we have some stuff to look at tonight and get a decent lap this afternoon and are in the mix at the end.”

POCONO NEXT WEEK, WHAT DID YOU LEARN WITH THE REPAVE? “It was way better. I thought they did a great job paving it. Usually everyone is against new pavement, including myself, because you think it hurts the racing but I thought it was better. I don’t think it could have gotten any worse though. I never did good there and never really liked it before. I feel like we ran competitive. I don’t remember what happened or what we did to get to 7th or 8th or whatever it was. I am looking forward to going back and trying to improve on that a little bit.”

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN THE PRESSURE OF BEING THE LEADER COMPARED TO THE CHASER HEADING INTO THE CHASE? “I think that depending on what your cushion is ahead of 10th or 11th, however you want to look at it, that is where you pressure is. Even if you aren’t the leader, if you get to a couple races to go and know you are going to be in the Chase I don’t think the pressure is any different being the leader or being fifth. After the 26th race they put the top-10 in order of wins and right now we only have one compared to a couple guys that have three. We know we need to pick it up a little bit and get another win or two hopefully before we get to the Chase assuming that we make it.”

HOW FAMILIAR ARE YOU WITH THE ROUSH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. ANYTIME SOMEONE NEEDS A CREW CHIEF THAT IS WHERE JACK LOOKS AND MORE TIMES THAN NOT IT SEEMS TO WORK OUT. “The R&D department has probably changed a bit through the years. Jimmy (Fennig) ended up over there running R&D when they took him off the crew chief job of the 6 car and that is where we got him out of. Chad has been over there I think because he was the crew chief on a Nationwide car and they downsized the program. Instead of moving him out they put him there to work on projects. Same with Matt Puccia, he was a crew chief and always thought he would be one of the best in the business. We went from three Nationwide cars to one or whatever it was. They had to do something with those people and didn’t want to let go of all those people. They put them back there working on projects and keep trying to move the programs forward. There is a lot of depth there.”

I BELIEVE I HAVE HEARD YOU SAY ONCE BEFORE THAT WINNING AT INDIANAPOLIS WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO, AS FAR AS A SINGLE RACE, IS THAT THE CASE? “Yeah, you want to win everywhere and if you can pick any race and just one I think it is the Daytona 500. After that probably the 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 and the Brickyard, those are the four biggest races of the year. If you could pick four races, if you were lucky enough to pick four races to win, those would be it. I think this would be the second one on most people’s lists.”

WHEN YOU GET BACK IN THE CAR AFTER A WEEK OFF OR OFF-SEASON OR WHATEVER, IS IT AS SIMPLE AS RIDING A BIKE? “I have been clumsy out of the car too. I think for the guys that have ran here a lot and are comfortable with their cars and team it doesn’t take too long. Our first lap of the day was in qualifying trim and you go out there and try to cut a fast lap. You have to be ready for that. It is the way it has always been, especially since they eliminated testing at these tracks. It is kind of different, even for the Nationwide guys. They got here Thursday, sit around for a day, then go qualify. You don’t get time to get up to speed. That is just what we have always done. If we were sitting around for a couple months that might be different but after a week I think you are alright.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE “I don’t know, that is a tough one to explain. The edge I guess is something that you just feel. I have never been a big guy to pick points out. I don’t know how I figure it out. I just drive it and feel it and drive it until I feel like I can’t go any farther. I don’t know how I do that. That is a good question and a hard one to answer. I wish I had a good technical answer.”

GOING BACK TO EFI AND THE MILEAGE, IS WHAT YOU ARE IMPLYING IS THAT GUYS USED TO HAVE TRICKS AND THOSE ARE LIMITED NOW? “Well, I know for us that when we ran carburetors that guys would have carburetors that would maybe detune their engine a little to get better fuel mileage. Carl always had the best mileage of anybody somehow that carburetor got lost and all of a sudden it is the same as all of us and usually mine is actually a little better than his. It isn’t so much a driving style thing as it is how your car is tuned. Now they do it all on the computer so you know where everybody is mapped with the fuel injection stuff. There is something to shutting the car off and doing all that but now with all the data it makes it real easy to look at all that. If you come up short or are better than your team cars you can analyze all that and see what they were doing different to get better mileage.”

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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