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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Dickies 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Dickies 500

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Dickies 500

Matt Kenseth
Martin Truex, Jr.
November 4, 2007


FORT WORTH, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR: We are going to roll into our post-race availability here at Texas Motor Speedway, and we are pleased to be joined by our second and third place finishers of today's race. Both of them did an outstanding job. We've got our second place finisher, the driver of the No. 17 Today USG Ford, that's Matt Kenseth. And our third place finisher, he sat on the pole this weekend, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Chevrolet.
Let's start with Matt first, great effort out there today, you had a great race. Your thoughts.
MATT KENSETH: I'm happy and extremely disappointed. Whenever you're leading with three to go, you're always disappointed when you don't win. There's been a couple races here in a row that that happened to us on the last lap. I disappointed with that, but if I sat back, overall it was a great day for us
I don't think we necessarily had a second place car most of the day. It was a good car Friday when we unload, but during the day, we really weren't any good at all. That was a little bit of an advantage at the end if we had a top three or four car. Took two tires this week, and last week got two and beat us with it so hard to figure out. They had the best car and got through.
THE MODERATOR: You had a big weekend, got your Top-5 finish, your thoughts about your performance out there today.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, it was okay. We pretty much struggled with the car throughout the race, real proud of the work the guys did in the pit. Pretty much complained about the car all day long and just kept working on it getting it better and better, and it feels good to get a good finish finally. We've had a rough stretch here. We've had some great cars and a lot better than what we had tonight. So it feels good to finally get them something that they deserve.

Q. Matt, can you talk about how the track surface aging, what effect that has on the racing, and how you guys were able to go side-by-side even though you had two tires and Jimmie had four, can you talk about your thoughts on how the two-tire stop lasted as long as it did compared to Jimmie
MATT KENSETH: There's two reasons it lasted that long. First reason is I got a huge head start. Second reason was he was getting pretty carful. You know, those are probably the two reasons. As the track fades, it definitely got wider. It used to be a really bad one-groove, hard to pass. You're running so fast here and with the flat transitions and out of the corner, and with the aero, they have done a great job smoothing out some of the bumps and they have been able to run side-by-side. And you know, with these cars, I had to run the top, I was loose anyway and you know, if Jimmie got on the side of me, I was going to be looser and just tried to stay closer to him and as much aerodynamic as I could to hold him off. Thought if I gave him some breathing room, he would have went right by, but stayed in there as long as I could.

Q. Mr. Kenseth --
MATT KENSETH: Mister? Thanks Mister. ... (Laughter).

Q. Any time. There's a lot of talk these days about points racing and stuff like that, but I didn't see that out there today, with the points leader, you and him.
MATT KENSETH: That sucked, huh.

Q. Pretty terrible.
MATT KENSETH: If he finished second, that would have been a lot better for points.

Q. But seriously, you and Hamlin clawed each other pretty hard for the lead, and you and Jimmie clawed each other for the lead, and seemed to me maybe you guys were running hard and the story of the race, the talk about points, make it's malarkey.
MATT KENSETH: Not to be smart, that's what we do every week. The thing with Denny, since it happened, and it was, you know -- inaudible -- racing that hard for the lead with 80 to go, you're going to race that hard for the lead with 20 to go and you have to do everything you can do to hold them off and try to get that win when it's in front of you, and that's every week. Doesn't matter really where you are in the points.
I think the only time that would change is if he was at Homestead and had a 50-point lead or something like that. Maybe he would have backed out of it and pulled out behind me.
We've raced together for a long time and I think he was pretty confident that I wasn't going to wreck him. We raced each other really hard. I didn't give him extra room at all and I thought of the points thing and thought maybe he would back out of it; at one point he backed out of it with five to go, but he was just a lot faster.

Q. Does the points --
MATT KENSETH: I thought you were upstairs. That's why I wasn't looking at you.

Q. I'm everywhere.
MATT KENSETH: Must have missed you.

Q. That's hard to do. In the situation for you, do you think about the points? I know you joked and sat down and said, it's a good thing you were racing Jimmie, because otherwise you wouldn't have been on television. Do you think this is a guy that's leading, running for the championship; is that really in your mind having been there to before?
MATT KENSETH: It did enter my mind, but it entered it kind of backwards. I wasn't like, oh, I'm going to give him a bunch of room or whatever. I'm like, "Man, I'm going to race the heck out of him and crowd him and hope he backs out of it and thinks better it. Man, he's aggressive going for the win and man I'd better back out of it and get to a better spot."
I thought about it in a way of trying to take advantage of him in a way or the situation. He had a lot faster car. He knew I wasn't going to give him a lot of extra room with five to go, and he knew I wasn't going to wreck him, either. So we raced as hard as we could race for that position.
It wasn't that different in the spring when me and Jeff Burton raced, we are good friends and we raced as hard as we could race for 10 or 15 laps, and we couldn't have raced any harder for the lead without wrecking.

Q. Talk a little about the disappointment of losing the spring race on the last lap and then almost have the same exact thing happen again tonight.
MATT KENSETH: You know, there's a couple things. It is disappointing when you're leading with two or three to go and you get passed. It's disappointing.
But, you know, we've had three top fives in a row now and I'm happy about that, and we seem to be getting back rolling again. And I'm also a firm believer that if you get yourself in position to win enough, you're going to win races. You know, it's easy to say after you lose one, but you hate losing any of them. And I think there's times that you go through and get yourself in position to win and maybe another guy has a little trouble or whatever happens, and hopefully you'll win a couple that maybe you shouldn't have and maybe it all kind of balances out.

Q. Did you feel anything in your car mechanically in the last three laps there?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I mean, he ran me down from a long ways back. I don't know how much faster he was, but I was steadily losing grip which is normally -- I drove it real hard to try to get as big a lead as I could, and I was a little too loose putting two tires on. And I just kept losing more and more grip as I was running; and four tires, he just had more grip

Q. Martin, don't want to you sit there -- were you watching that step up front and thinking, man, I hope these guys get a little rambunctious and think I might slide in one here?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely. I didn't want to wreck, but I was hoping I would get the guys to slow down enough so I could catch them and maybe make it a three-man race. That's all you can do. We didn't have a good enough car to win, obviously, and we were happy to be where we were. We definitely had a shot and never gave up until it was over with.

Q. Someplace around 10 laps to go, you got sideways. Can you take us through that and what was going through your mind, how close was it to hold on to the car?
MATT KENSETH: Felt like I was sideways the whole time. Really, I can't remember. The one time that sticks out is when we were side-by-side off of four, and I just about spun out, and that would have been bad because I was looking at his right rear quarter panel, and probably would have been really bad for him and really bad for me. So I'm really glad I was able to get that up and keep rolling where were we were loose and ran two tires; and I was just driving over my head to get back as far up as I could.

Q. Not trying to be a smart, you know what about this, but a real strategy question in my mind. Jimmie knows you will race him cleanly, and another driver may not race him cleanly; does that give him an edge in a battle with you that he can race side-by-side with you and you're not going to get into him?
MATT KENSETH: I don't know. I mean, I think you try to race people, you know, the same all the time. And he was a lot faster and I made it -- I don't think anybody could have made it any harder on him to tell you the truth, I didn't give him a lot of extra room. I wasn't going to run into him or do anything crazy. But I certainly didn't give him a lot of room and we were battling for the lead, and I had a couple battles for him and I guess he's won them all. So he's probably feeling pretty good about it as fast as he reeled us in.

Q. What are you going to do different --
MATT KENSETH: Wreck, nobody wants to wreck. There's not a lot I can really do different.

Q. Was there much discussion between and you Robby about two or four tires on that stop?
MATT KENSETH: Not really. I guess this is how dumb I am from the seat. So last week when we got four, I thought for sure we should have got two because there were only three or four left. And this week I was like, man, if we're going to pit, just put two tires on or stay on the track. Four never even crossed my mind.
I just didn't think that many people would do it with 30 to go. But obviously I was way wrong and there was only three of us that tried it, and that was kind of the kiss of death for us. I think if five of us had tried it and it went green, it would have taken Jimmie long enough to navigate by the extra two or three cars and we would go gotten a big enough lead and it worked out.
We didn't really run that much faster on four for some reason, but no, I never even really thought of four that last stop.

Q. You've talked about you've had some battles with Jimmie in later races and being able to pull them out at times. Do you see anything different, is it just a case that they just get their car at that point, obviously you're trying as hard, he's trying as hard, is there a determination, can you kind of, I guess, modify or explain if there's anything there that you see that's kind of a trend?
MATT KENSETH: Well, yeah, I mean, I see a trend -- how do I word this the right way?
That group has got together, in my opinion from watching the outside and racing and everything, that is the strongest team, driver, crew chief, group, everything, all together, unit, that is the strongest unit in the garage area and in my opinion it's been that way for four years. He's only won one championship, and he's on his way to a second in them four years.
But they have been the team pretty much every week. I can't think of a track that I go to that you don't think of the 48 being up there challenging for a win, and, you know, making strategy calls or, you know, pushing rules to the limit or whatever it may be. I think he's won at every kind of track except for maybe road course and they are just unbelievable. I think they are just the best and on top of their game right now.

Q. Million dollar question for both of you. Is Jimmie in the driver's seat now? Is it his championship to win now or not?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think yes. My personal opinion, I don't have any reasons.
MATT KENSETH: You know, anything can happen with the points structure the way it is. I don't even know how far he is ahead. But just on performance, and Jeff has had an awesome year, an awesome consistent year and would have been a normal before the Chase type thing, that would be the championship team.
But just off pure performance, the 48 in my opinion more times than not has everybody covered including the 24. But Jeff has been there several times, and he's drove smart and smooth and one little slip-up from the 48 and he'll be right there. Jeff doesn't make any mistakes.

Q. Earlier in the week, you touched on the fact how proud you were of the guys that they were able to get the guys rebuilt after it got torn up in Atlanta. Coming back to finish third today, what's your opinion on how everything went?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I'm still proud of them. We had a great weekend and sat on the pole for the first time and just real proud of their efforts throughout the season. We've had a real up-and-down sort of year. We made the Chase which was a huge deal for us, and, you know, we won our first race and we thought we had a shot.
We've really run well in all the Chase races and we haven't had much to show for it, so it's been frustrating. So for them to keep their heads up and working as hard as they have and keep bringing race cars for me as good as they have, I'm real proud of them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.



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