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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sprint All-Star Race

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Sprint All-Star Race

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sprint All-Star Race

Matt Kenseth
May 16, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We'll roll right into our post-race press conference for the 25th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. We're pleased to be joined by our runner-up tonight, Matt Kenseth. Drives the No. 17 Dewalt Ford. And, Matt, certainly a lot of back and forth there in that 10-lap shootout. Tell us how things unfolded, particularly there the last final laps.
MATT KENSETH: The last couple of laps, I'm obviously disappointed we lost. But I feel stupid. Looks like I rolled up and Tony went flying right by me, which he did. We were too loose all night and really slow on restarts. For a long run we were really good, if it had been the 600, we had 30 and 40-lap runs, I thought our car was pretty spectacular. It was pretty good on the long run.
Anyway, on that break we knew we had to tighten up the car a lot, which we did. Put more air in the tires and did all the things for a short run. It was actually pretty good for five or six laps. But with all the short runs, cautions, getting the body banged, it just hurt it. With three to four to go we got tight and wouldn't turn at all that last lap and Tony just rolled right on by.

Q. Matt, at one point Kyle went around you on a restart and it looked like you guys kind of banged each other under caution. What was up with that?
MATT KENSETH: Well, the rules tonight are a little different than most nights. All restarts tonight were double file and all restarts were started by the flagman and there was no restart zone.
And you couldn't pass until you got the start/finish line. So we took that restart, the first restart with 10 to go, and I took off and my car wasn't very fast in restarts for some reason. And he rolled way outside of me way before we ever got to the start/finish line, which you can't do. Kind of right reared me. We both dropped way back and got a little bit of damage out of that. And luckily there was a caution and they reracked them.
So after that I was so slow when he hit me in the right rear, he rolled outside and we were three wide going down into the 3 and we were still racing for position until we knew the caution was out for sure.

Q. Matt, looked like you had a lot of straightaway speed tonight. Did you feel like that was where your car was strongest was down in the straights?
MATT KENSETH: No, not really. It seemed like our car was the strongest in turn 3 and 4, turned pretty good down there most of the night. And most of the night we were too loose in 1 and 2. And we were able to get off turn 4 really fast all night, seemed to be our strongest point.

Q. When Tony went and did his own deal, did you think he would get a win even though it's not a points race, did you think he could get a win this early, did you think they could be that good?
MATT KENSETH: Considering the circumstances, yes. If he went and did his own deal and built his own cars and if he went up to Bill Davis's shop and did his own deal I don't think he would have won a race there. But when you go over there, get Hendricks information and engines and chassis and everything with this car, this car is almost a production car how you put it together and when you have all that information to draw from. As talented and Tony and Ryan are, I did not think they wouldn't be competitive. I thought they would be as competitive as the Hendrick cars every week. They have a lot of their personnel over there, and it's kind of a spinoff of that team, like the Gates teams over at Roush, I guess.

Q. Matt, what are the emotions when you realize you can't keep the car down low enough and Stewart's got the run on you coming into 2?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I felt stupid because all night the very bottom for me was the slowest down there in the middle had by far the most grip, and once I took the lead I ran around the middle there, and Tony almost passed me.
He was so much faster than me. He almost went around me. I chose the bottom. The next lap because I saw he was choosing to get in front of you. Because if you get one in front of you, you can't pass them. I got in front of him and had a little room back off of 4. I was going to run back to the middle down there where I've run the best all night.
That's where my car was all night. Had about a three-car length lead on them. Went down there, the splitter hit the ground and didn't turn and got in the gas real early and hard and plowed and it wouldn't turn at all and he rolled right by me like I was tied to a tree. The car, tires up, all that stuff, we went a little too far in our adjustments for that short run and got way tight at the end.

Q. Matt, the first 80 laps of this race had no passes for the lead in speed. Jeff Gordon made a pass on the 81st lap. The final segment passes everywhere. Is this car so difficult to drive it that you just can't chance it until it's all on the line?
MATT KENSETH: No, I think we're all chancing it. When you get into the -- when you got to the final 10 laps, if we would have got a decent start in that last 10 laps and ran 10 green, I don't think it would have been much different.
But when you rack them up side by side and put a million-dollar carrot out there in everybody side-by-side restart, nobody's really worried about wrecking anything. You take off, you're going to have some excitement.
But I thought once we got five or six laps on our tires, if our car would have been at all close, I don't think Tony would have got by us once we had it in front. We've seen it since we started racing this car, we've seen it with all cars, but especially this car, when you're in front, it's big advantage when you're going that fast to have all the air.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Matt.

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