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Q&A with Ford driver Matt Kenseth

NASCAR Chase contender
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, currently stands 10th in the Chase, 24 points behind leader Kevin Harvick heading into this weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He goes to a track that he has admittedly not run well at over the years, a place that he considers a wild card in his chances for his second Cup title. Kenseth talked about this weekend and looked at other issues over the last nine races of the year.

YOU HAVE SAID BEFORE THAT NEW HAMPSHIRE IS NOT ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS, BUT WHY NOT EXACTLY?  “Well, we just don’t do particularly well there usually. Everybody has tracks they like more than others. It isn’t like I really dislike it; it just isn’t one of our best ones.”

IF YOU LOOK AT THE CHASE IN TEN RACES, WEAKNESS & STRENGTHS, WHAT ARE YOURS?  “Man, 10 races is a lot. That is a third of a season pretty much. I think you can go back to the last two-thirds of the season and kind of pick those things out. If we have a weakness the biggest thing is tracks like New Hampshire, and I don’t know what will happen in Phoenix after they have re-done that, and maybe Martinsville. Some of the flatter tracks it seems like we struggle a little more. I feel like we do reasonable enough that if we do the right thing on pit road and the right restart and right strategy that we might still have a shot to be in the mix even at those tracks.”

YOU ARE SO CONSISTENT. IN A CHASE WHERE EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE A LEGITIMATE SHOT TO WIN IT, DO YOU FEEL YOUR CONSISTENCY FAVORS YOU A LITTLE BIT?  “It depends what the other 11 guys do. It really does. You don’t know. We are all going to talk about it a lot right now because we have to but 10 races is a lot of races. Like I said, it is almost a third of a season. There are so many things that can happen in 10 races. I don’t think one race is always make or break. I think you will have to be pretty good at all of them but you have to do good all season to be in the Chase and be toward the front. I don’t know. You just take it one race at a time I think.”

DOES YOUR COMMUNICATION WITH JIMMY CHANGE AT ALL DURING THE CHASE? DO YOU TRY TO PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS SO TO SPEAK? “I think we do that every week. You try as hard as you can every week to go win and do the best you can. If you did more because you are in the Chase it means you didn’t do enough before you got in the Chase and weren’t trying as hard as you can. If Jimmy ever came up to me and said, ‘Matt, I need you to study this more, or look at this more, or do this more to help the team.’ I would do that in a second. Whether it is the first week of the season or the last week of the season, first or 40th in points. you always try to do that, to try to be your best. I think if he saw something and saw something that we needed to work on or study harder or do something, he would certainly bring that to my attention and we would work on it.”

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP LIKE BETWEEN YOU AND CARL WHILE YOU ARE IN THE CHASE? DOES THE RELATIONSHIP CHANGE NOW THAT YOU ARE BATTLING EACH OTHER FOR THE TITLE?  “It doesn’t change really. All the information sharing is more of a thing with the whole organization and the engineering department and crew chiefs and everybody. It all stays the same. We can all see what  each other is doing and if we ask each other a question, we still answer them. It doesn’t really change. We are racing against each other when they drop the green flag, but during the week we all try to help each other to give Ford the best shot we can to win this thing.”

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