Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion, made his series debut at Dover in 1998, finishing sixth is a relief effort for Bill Elliott. Kenseth has gone on to win twice at the Monster Mile, including this event last year and talked about what it takes to tame the beast.
MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion –
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DOVER AND THE SEASON TO DATE.
“I like coming to Dover. It has always been one of my favorite race tracks. This is part of the season that is fun being in Charlotte a couple weeks and then getting to Dover. I look forward to getting on the track and racing here and seeing what we’ve got.”
IS THIS A TRACK THAT DESPITE YOUR SUCCESS HERE IS STILL INTIMIDATING OR THERE ARE ASPECTS YOU HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR?
“I don’t know about intimidated but there are certainly a lot of things you have to watch out for. It is one of those tracks that is not only challenging to race other cars and figure out how to pass them but it always challenges you every single lap, even when you are by yourself. It is one of those tracks you can’t let your guard down. You really have to focus and concentrate and pay attention to be able to get fast laps around here all the time. It is one of the more challenging tracks I feel like and that is what makes it so fun.”
HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH A LOCK TO MAKE THE CHASE. DOES THAT CHANGE THE WAY YOU RACE? DO YOU TAKE MORE CHANCES?
“No, for me it’s not. For me it is always the same. I am as aggressive as I can possibly be without putting the car over the edge and hopefully not wrecking it. I think we show up at the track every week with an idea of trying to win and figure out how to win. Certainly we don’t do that often enough and you can’t win every week, but when you can’t you try to get the best finish you can for each and every race. I don’t think that strategy really changes. We go for wins each and when you can’t get them you finish as high as you can and if you run good enough the points thing takes care of itself.”
WITH THIS BEING ONE OF ONLY A COUPLE CONCRETE TRACKS ON THE SURFACE, IS IT A BIGGER CHALLENGE FOR YOU DEALING WITH CONCRETE?
“Each track is different and unique and I have never raced this track except when it has been concrete. It has always been like this for me and I don’t know any different. Obviously I know it is concrete but I don’t think about us being at as asphalt track last week and a concrete track this week. It is just Dover and it is a very different race track. I don’t think it really changes anything we do or preparation or anything because of the surface. It is the only way we know this track.”
DOES THE BANKING PLAY INTO THINGS?
“Certainly the track is very high banked and very fast and obviously that plays into your setup and how you attack the track.”
WITH HENDRICK WINNING THE LAST THREE RACES, IS THERE A CONCERN THAT THEY ARE A LITTLE FASTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE?
“It was just Darlington that you guys were asking me if we felt bad for them and were concerned that hadn’t won in however long it was. Those guys have a really strong team over there and really great drivers, crew chiefs, equipment and all that stuff. Every time you go to the race track you feel like if you are going to have a shot to win in the race you feel like you have to beat one or all of the Hendrick cars. I don’t feel like that has ever changed.”
HOW ABOUT NEXT WEEK AT POCONO? WHAT KIND OF UNKNOWN IS THAT NOW WITH THE NEW PAVING AND 400 MILES VERSUS 500?
“That is the thing, I don’t know a lot about Pocono since they repaved it so I was trying not to think about it yet until we got through here since we have to be there for like six days or whatever it is with all the testing. I think by the time you do the Wednesday test and Thursday test you will have a good idea of what you need and a good plan going into Friday and getting ready for the weekend. It is a bit of an unknown right now but I think we are going to have a lot of track time, everybody will, and hopefully we will have a better answer to your question after we get on track Wednesday and probably more so on Thursday once we get a bunch of cars on track and see what we are up against. Until we get on the track, having not been on that surface yet with a tire on that surface yet it is hard to predict how much tires are going to make a difference and track position and all that kind of stuff. I would assume being a new paved track that it will have a fairly hard tire and be more track position and fuel mileage than it will be tires. Again, we haven’t been on the track yet so it is hard to predict that.”
A COUPLE WEEKS AGO NASCAR RAISED THE SIDE PANELS A LITTLE TO HAVE A LITTLE LESS DOWN FORCE. WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF ADDITIONAL CHANGES THAT MADE THE CARS MORE DIFFICULT TO DRIVE AND DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD PLAY INTO YOUR DRIVING SKILLS IF THEY DID THAT?
“Yeah, right now the cars are difficult to drive but they are more forgiving than the older cars to catch. When you do step over the edge and get it sideways there is a lot of side force that helps you catch the cars. It is a good thing because it helps you not wreck as much but I think that lends a little into having less accidents and less yellow’s and stuff. I think the racing is pretty good how it is right now but I would be in favor of less side force and less rear down force, not less front, but less rear and less aero dependent and work a little more on mechanical grip. I have always liked that better when we could get our cars like that than having them squashed to the race track so hard. I wouldn’t mind trying that but everyone is going to have a different idea on that. I’ve always liked some of the older rules with smaller spoilers and less down force.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE WITH THE EXTRA DAYS AT POCONO AND SHUTTLING FROM DOVER TO EL DORA TO THERE?
“I am not doing El Dora this year, it is the first year I have missed it which I am bummed out about. The way the Pocono schedule turned out though I am glad that I will be there because I am sure Wednesday there will be a lot of things to talk about with Jimmy and look through for the next day.”
WHAT MAKES YOU SO DOMINANT AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO NEED TO DO TO WIN HERE THIS WEEKEND?
“I don’t feel like I am but thanks for saying that. I think we need to pick it up a little bit. It has been a track I really enjoyed and we’ve had some success and some bad runs too, usually from accidents. I think it is a track we come into and have a lot of confidence and our cars have been really good here and I feel like in the past I have known what I wanted it to feel like and we have been able to achieve that more times than not. I think the 48 has been the strongest car here the last few years, even last spring when we got the win he really dominated the race and we got him on pit road getting two tires. I think we have some work to do to make it better and be dominant but we have been pretty respectable here.”