NASCAR Media Conference
September 18, 2007
Q. Matt, has the Chase become for you -- has it become something of a frustrating exercise for you, always making it but never getting that big splash of a couple of wins, that sort of thing? And do you have hope that your team could come up, given any week, you could put together one of those runs, like two wins in four races, something like that?
MATT KENSETH: Well, of course you're always hoping for a good run, hope for wins, putting that together. But it's not frustrating at all making the Chase four years in a row.
Obviously it's a difficult thing to do, to put together a good 26 races, to be in that top 10. So I'm real proud of my team for being able to accomplish that.
Of course, we want to take that a step farther and win the Chase, as does everybody in the top 12 who makes it. We're doing everything we can. Hopefully we can keep being consistent and get running a little bit better.
Q. Matt, how much of a bond do you have with No. 17? You have some ardent fans in Wisconsin. How attached do you think they are to that number?
MATT KENSETH: I don't know. I mean, it's just a number. Obviously, you know, the longer you can keep together a team and a number, a sponsor, all those things, kind of the better it is for your identity or the fans, the souvenirs they bought, stuff that they wear, all that kind of stuff that you wouldn't really think about.
Other than that, it doesn't really -- it really doesn't matter that much to me. My number was always No. 8. That's the number I came up with to race short track cars. My dad was 88, I was No. 8. That was always kind of my favorite number. Robby's numbers was actually 71.
When he ran down to run the Busch car it wasn't available. The number of his Busch car was 17, and that's really where it came from. When he started driving his Busch car it just happened to be what number it was.
That's kind of how it is with most drivers. Whoever you start driving for has a number, and that's what you usually end up being.
Q. What have you seen since the merger of Roush and February way seen a difference in the team?
MATT KENSETH: No, I really haven't. The only real difference is, you know, is just changing some of the branding, the names, the signs out front, that kind of stuff. I mean, I have been able to go to Fenway Park a couple times, which was cool. The part I pay the most attention to, the performance side of it, the competition side of it, all that, hasn't changed at all. It's the same as it's always been.
Q. How would you handicap the Chase contenders? Who looks like a favorite and, who likes like a sleepers, who's not running good right now?
MATT KENSETH: To be honest with you, I don't think it's possible to handicap it today. I think you have to wait a few weeks. You know, I don't think anybody really expected Clint to come in and win the race, lead all the laps, do all that stuff this weekend, move up to where he's at.
He was real consistent and solid all year, but wasn't able to win a race. You know, always ran okay, but was a threat to win a couple races. But I don't think any of you guys probably thought of him as one of the guys who was really going to have a shot at it. Here he just kicked everybody's butt this weekend. Just never know.
I think really all 12 teams today, you know, got a legitimate shot. You look at Kurt. He had problems. I think he's 11th or 12th right now. Kurt put that run together right before the Chase, won a couple races, was real fast, worked his way up in there. I think anybody right now could get open a roll and be a real contender.
Q. Veering off topic here. What do you think about Juan Pablo Montoya racing in the Cup Series and the influx of open-wheel drivers coming in next season, Jacques Villeneuve, Dario Franchitti will be making his announcement this week? What are your thoughts on that?
MATT KENSETH: It doesn't really matter to me. I mean, you know, there's always positives and negatives to pretty much everything that happens in the sport.
I think the good thing is that it probably attracts a broader fan base. Have more people maybe watching the sport that didn't watch before that were maybe fans of them drivers or fans of the series that those drivers used to race in, that type of thing.
I think it's always good for the garage area and for the drivers, for everybody to be diverse. I think it's pretty cool that drivers who have done that stuff before want to come and race the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. I think that's a good thing for the series. Everybody at NASCAR is pretty proud of that, that them people want to come over from the top division of their type of racing and race with us.
Q. Having won the last Cup under the old format, having been in all four of the new deals, which do you prefer and which do you feel is more representative of a champion's effort?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I think they both are. I don't think you can take one away from the other and say, Well, this is more of a, you know, good representation of it or this isn't whatever. I think whatever they make the rules, you've got to make them work and go from there.
You know, I guess I got a couple answers there. I mean, my personal favorite, just because I'm kind of a traditionalist, enjoy the history of the sport, what went on before, I like the traditional format. I like, you know, having to race 36 weeks and, you know, not make any mistakes, run hard and be good at all the tracks, the road courses, all them kind of tracks. You know, I enjoy that part of it.
But yet honestly my favorite, favorite way is whatever the fans like the most, whatever's the most exciting. I think the Chase format has certainly made it more exciting for the fans. Kind of I think reenergizes everybody. Once football starts we've already been racing for 28 weeks. It kind of gets everybody jacked up about racing, gives them something to watch and follow and kind of see who the champion is.
Whereas if it was the old format, Jeff would pretty much have things wrapped up.
Q. Five of the ten Chase races are the COT. You picked up a top 10 getting one of those out of the way. What do you see in the next four for the 17 car?
MATT KENSETH: I don't know. You just never know. I mean, you kind of say, Well, COT races don't really matter. But you could go to one of the best tracks with one of your old cars and run really bad, too. You just never know. I used to have places I felt better about than others. You still do, but you still don't know what the results are going to be.
Last year I couldn't wait to get to Kansas, the mile-and-a-half's, because we ran so good at them earlier in the year, won some races at them. Went to Kansas and ran dead last all day. You just never really know. I think the biggest wildcard for the COT stuff is going to be Talladega because we've never done that before. Talladega's always kind of a crazy race.
Q. What is your sense of how Talladega might unfold? Do you think it will be as crazy as usual, or is there a possibility it might be a bit more tame because of the Car of Tomorrow?
MATT KENSETH: Talladega?
MATT KENSETH: I don't really know. I mean, I've heard several drivers say several different things. Some people think that we'll all be in a single-file line because the cars, when you could get out of line, fall to the back extremely fast. You know, with the old cars you can kind of sort of a little bit hold your own and hang in there.
These cars do drop back really fast if you don't have anybody with you and you do get out of line. From what I saw from the draft, and all the stuff that we did, the cars are very stable. They suck up really fast.
I think it's going to be a crazy race. I think you're going to be three-wide most of the time, and I would be surprised if nobody runs into anybody else.
It's a little more difficult to see out of than our other cars. They suck up a little faster in the draft and they're really easy to drive. When all that stuff happens, it usually makes everybody pretty brave, maybe do some moves or put their cars in places they wouldn't put the other cars if they didn't drive as good.
Q. Back in June you ran the COT at Dover. Coming Sunday, is there much change to the setups of the car, or is it going to be mostly the same as back in June?
MATT KENSETH: I hope it will be different because we didn't run that good to leave it the same (laughter).
It depends. I mean, you know, I think there are some teams that had a pretty good jump on it. Maybe they'll run pretty close to the stuff they ran last time. I'm sure the one car who dominated the race will run with the same stuff, at least start with it. I feel like hopefully with we've made our stuff a lot better.
I know from the first Richmond to the second Richmond we ran a drastically different setup. From the first New Hampshire to the second New Hampshire we ran a drastically different setup and ran a fair amount better. So I expect our stuff to be quite a bit different than what we ran there last time. Hopefully that means we'll be a little bit better.
Q. What in your past do you think has prepared you or helped you the most for doing so well as a guest on CNN's Glenn Beck show recently?
MATT KENSETH: I'm glad you thought it was good. I didn't know that it was. I haven't seen it. A lot of times I feel like I stammer and stutter through the stuff.
The biggest thing is he was a really cool guy. He was real easy to talk to. They did their research ahead of time and asked questions that were, you know, good questions that you could talk about and maybe have some different opinions on.
And also I was on there with Jeff Burton. That made it a lot easier. Jeff is a very, very well-spoken guy. He has pretty strong opinions about a lot of stuff and he talks a lot, so that made it easier for me.
DENISE MALOOF: Thank you, Matt. We appreciate you taking time out to join us today. Good luck this weekend.
MATT KENSETH: All right. Thanks a lot.
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