NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
Topics: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
July 5, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post-race press conference. We have with us our third-place finisher in tonight's race, Matt Kenseth, driver of the 17 R&L Carrier's Ford. Your thoughts about tonight's race, certainly an exciting finish and probably could have gone either way. Your thoughts.
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, it was crazy. You know you never know what's going to happen with the green-and-white checkered pretty sure you had a place and there's going to be a wreck and you hope you're not in it basically. The.
Restart was really odd, kind of about 20 car lengths late and everybody was running into each other like crazy. Just I've never been hit so hard and hit people so hard before through a green. So that kind of got it sort of started and I guess Carl must have had a little run on Jeff and Jeff got spun out.
Down the back I was trying to push Carl because we had such a good restart, and Kurt was behind me pushing me like crazy, but he was trying to look different directions on Kyle and Kyle was blocking like crazy. He was so all over the straightaway I was fearing hitting him and spinning out. And Kyle went up to block him and I got sideways and I was going to wreck and had to get off the gas.
If Kyle could have got straight and we could have got a farther back run on Kyle, I think we both could have went by him and maybe raced for the win, but we just couldn't quite get that figured out exactly right.
Anyway, happy I finished third, best I ever finished at Daytona the guys made great adjustments and we were pretty competitive, so it feels good.
KERRY THARP: We have Carl Edwards, driver of the 99 Affleck Ford, a second-place showing, certainly an exciting finish, could have gone either way. Your thoughts.
CARL EDWARDS: Boy, I don't know exactly what the caution was for, was it a wreck in turn one? Man, I'd have given anything to be able to run at least down to the end of the back straightaway but that's the way it went and Kyle did a great job. They were real fast. It was a little nerve-wracking there before they announced the winner, but I don't know what to tell you, second place is second place. Really wanted to win. Matt did a great job helping me. That was very cool.
Q. Elliot Sadler blew a tire during part of the race and said he criticized the tires by saying that good year didn't bring the same tires you guys tested here with. Did you find any kind of problems with the tires, any controversy around that?
MATT KENSETH: I didn't have any problem with tires coming part and I haven't tested here in five months, so I don't know if that means they brought back a different front tire test, I'm not really sure what that means or who did the tire test. I don't really have any idea.
Q. Kyle has won six times this year; your impressions of him as a driver, why is he so good?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I mean, I think he's the same driver he's been the last couple years. First of all I know you can only run as fast as your equipment will carry you. So he's got good he equipment. A lot of times you'll get together with somebody with good chemistry and figure it out better than maybe you can with somebody else, and obviously he's been able to hit it off with his team really good over there and obviously got good stuff. And he's just been pretty much on fire, so he's been having an exceptional year, that's for sure.
Q. When did you know for sure that you had finished second? There was a lot of confusion for a while.
CARL EDWARDS: I wasn't sure until we were going down the back straightaway. Jason told me and said: "The 18 to victory lane." I was pretty sure when we were running, though, because I saw the yellow light come on right as I was going by it and I was just getting a run-up on his door. So I thought that I was probably second.
Q. Kyle has obviously had everything that could go right for him, has gone right, and the right place at the right time and he's on a good team and solid car, but are you guys encouraged that when you get to the Chase, you're competitive with him and you guys are in the mix to contend for a championship?
MATT KENSETH: I think that's a good one for Carl because I'm just barely on the edge. I don't know if I'm going to make it or not. We're pretty sure Carl is going to make it.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I feel great about how competitive we are. If we had not blown up at Atlanta; and if pit strategy worked different at Sonoma; and if we had gone another 200 yards here tonight, we might have a lot more wins, and that's just how racing goes.
You know, Kyle's got the trophies and I've got all the respect in the world for him, but once the Chase starts, everybody kind of gets to almost start over again. He's getting a little bit of a head start with all of these wins on the bonus points, but I feel very good about our team, all of them, we have the potential to be very good in the Chase.
Q. You have not fared as well in the 500; what's different about this race and why are you having more success in this one?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I don't know, it's hard for me to remember back every race. We were running I think third or fourth, had a great car in the 500, way better car than what we had tonight, and got wrecked. Couldn't do anything about it beside somebody ran me in the wall, couldn't really do anything about that. I guess there's the last one I can remember.
So I don't know that it really matters what time of year it is or what race. I think it's just more circumstances than anything.
Q. First part of the race you were hanging in the back doing a Dale Jarrett impersonation towards the back of the field; was that intentional or something because of the car in?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question, at first I was thinking it was intentional and then I just couldn't go any faster. We really had some things that weren't right on our car. It was really hard to drive.
So I just kind of hung back there a little bit until we got it fixed and Bob did really a great job and we actually did some stuff with the front end and worked on some things. So it worked out. But I just didn't -- I couldn't drive like that for 400 miles the way the car was so I just figured I would hang around instead of wrecking everyone.
Q. You stayed out and came in after everybody else had pitted about 45 laps to go, was that part of that same, trying to work on the car or was there a fuel mileage gambit?
CARL EDWARDS: It was a fuel mileage thing. Bob thought we could make it to the caution or maybe without a caution. We stayed for one lap and thought we could gamble on fuel. That was cool of Bob to do. We are getting close to the Chase and we are comfortable with our position, so it was good to see Bob do some gambling. We usually play it very safe, and that's what we were doing there.
Q. What hurt most, not getting the win or the 20-point difference?
CARL EDWARDS: That's what hurt the most -- that's what hurt the most at Atlanta and that's what hurt the most tonight. You're so close, and then it gives -- especially with one guy like Kyle who is winning all those races, he's really setting himself up for a great start to the Chase.
You know, if he wins one or two more, he's almost got a freebie there if he blows an engine or has a bad race or something. They are doing it right, and that's going to be hard for the rest of us to -- those points, we are going to have to make up. That's just the way it is.
On the Jeff Gordon thing, he was coming down and he was doing the best he could I think to try to get in front of me and he was up against my fender. I thought that he would turn right at any moment, but that's all that happened there ask I don't think he knew I was inside of him. That's all. Just in case it comes up.
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