· Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag for the 23rd time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and first time at Talladega Superspeedway with today’s win.
· Today’s win is the fifth of the season for Ford Racing.
· The win is Ford’s 611th all-time series victory and the 129th for Roush Fenway.
MATT KENSETH PRESS CONFERENCE
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 EcoBoost Ford Fusion – “Plate racing is really a testament to everybody at Roush Fenway Racing and the guys that build these cars and put bodies on them, and Jimmy and the guys that set them up and work on them, and the pit crew, and certainly everybody at the engine shop – Doug Yates and all those guys. Plate racing, especially Talladega, has always been about a fast race car and not necessarily a good handling one. I never felt like the driver was a huge factor, so certainly this win is really about those guys a lot more than me, but I’m glad to get them the win. The plate stuff has just been unbelievable this year. All four plate races they put me in a position to win. I really felt like I let them down here last time on the move I made or didn’t make, and at Daytona again we had a shot to win that thing and messed it up at the end and got beat by Tony, so I’m really proud to be in Victory Lane with these guys. They worked on it hard today. We had an up-and-down day. We had a couple near misses on the track and had to work our way back through the pack two or three times. We had the car pretty loose and it was pretty tough to drive at times, so I’m glad it all worked out for us at the end.”
JIMMY FENNIG, Crew Chief – “All weekend we were struggling with a little bit of speed and today we ended up with the car a little bit on the free side and we tried adjusting it out, but we really couldn’t get it out. Matt did an awesome job as you all saw with him going down on the apron to save that thing. It was a good race. I feel bad for Matt having to have to drive it that free, but at the end we ended up with the trophy.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – “We’ve got great sponsors and great technical support behind our race cars. We’ve not won as many races as we should this year. Certainly in my 25 years this has been the best year we’ve had at restricted plate racing. Unless I’m misinformed, Matt was leading going into the final lap of every restricted plate race we’ve had this year and he’s won two and come up a little bit short on the other two. It’s great to be here with the Breast Cancer Foundation, the EcoBoost Ford Fusion, Best Buy and Fifth Third and Zest. Jimmy Fennig is really good at his trade. When he rolls his car into the tech line I’ve got every confidence that he’s gotten every bit of consideration that the tech people will allow and he gets the speed out of the car where a lot of people couldn’t. Matt did a nice job today. As I said, he had a couple of occasions where he could have wound up on his roof or his side and he managed to have the presence and skill not to let that happen and he wound up in Victory Circle.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STRATEGY FOR THIS RACE? “I don’t really have a strategy when I go in, except for the same as every other race. Years ago when they went to those strips on the roof and everything it drastically changed restrictor plate racing. It used to be when they started it was very difficult to pass. You could stay leading and stay on the bottom and it was hard for people to pass because there wasn’t the pushing and tandems. Since the evolution of changing these cars and making them to where we can pass better and run in a bigger pack and all that stuff, the first couple years we always tried to make a strategy. ‘Let’s all hang back. Let’s pull forward and if it looks scary, let’s go to the back.’ Honestly, I stopped doing that. I think Jimmy and I talked about it last July before Daytona and we just decided the fans pay a lot of money to watch us race. These guys pay me to drive the race car fast, so we just go out and race hard every lap. We go try to qualify the best we can, go out and try to lead the most laps if we can, and put ourselves in a position to win the race and not really worry about all that. As you saw today, and we’ve seen a lot of times, there isn’t a safe place. Tony had just passed me or may have been second when he got wiped out, so you’ve got to go race sooner or later. The last lap is the last lap and everybody is trying to get to the front, so I’d rather already be there if we can be.”
WAS HAVING TO DRIVE THE CAR THAT FREE WHAT FORCED YOU INTO THAT LANE AND HELPED YOU ESCAPE ALL THAT MESS? “It kind of did. The second-to-last run I was on the bottom there and I think we were leading and Jamie was behind me and he was trying to push me down the back a little bit and he bumped me a little bit into three and I about wiped out and had to move up the track. I lost a lot of momentum and a lot spots, so I knew at the end I couldn’t be on the bottom with cars outside of me and cars pushing me, especially through the tri-oval. I knew that we’d get wrecked because the last lap people are gonna try to push all the way around the track because it’s the last lap.
When we got way out in the lead coming to the white I kind of sized up the lanes behind me and I didn’t want a lane to go real fast by me on the bottom, but I decided to not to go to the bottom and I was gonna try grab the middle guy and that was Kevin. Tony was out front a little farther than him but he was lower, so I just kind of moved out in front of Kevin and it all worked out.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DO YOU CRINGE KNOWING THE INVESTEMENT YOU’VE MADE IN THESE CARS MAY END UP WITH THEM GETTING WRECKED? “I’m real conflicted about restrictor-plate racing. It’s NASCAR’s marquee, the high-banks of Daytona and Talladega have built a foundation under a lot of their promotions and a lot of fans relate particularly to these race tracks. But to driver and the crew and the strategies you can organize yourself for have got less to do with keeping you out of harm’s way than they do at a short track or an intermediate-sized track. So I really just figure those cars as a write-off whenever I load it up in the truck to bring it to one of these restricted plate races. If we’ve got the speed that we’ve had this year, then you miss most of the wrecks. But if you’re caught back in the middle, you’re certainly in jeopardy and have little to protect yourself with as Carl was not able to protect himself today.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU REGROUP WHEN YOU HAVE SOME OF THE ISSUES YOU HAD TODAY? “A faster car certainly makes you make better decisions, but I think I’ve probably gained maybe just a little bit of patience over the years. There were a couple times where you get hung out and it’s so easy to just say, ‘OK, I’m gonna drive out there three-wide,’ because I had a huge run catching the pack and you’re going 10 miles an hour faster, and you drive out and pass about five rows and then you stall out and they all pass you back, so just for me to be really patient two different times. We got ourselves back to the lead, I just had to use the middle. That worked pretty good for me most of the day. There was one time it seemed like it took a half or three-quarters of a fuel run to get back up there, but my car was really fast and if I was patient enough with it and waited for the holes and had the right people around me, I could kind of make it happen and get in a decent position.”
DID YOU THINK YOU FORCED CLINT BELOW THE YELLOW LINE? “I didn’t even think of that until you just said it. Honestly, I thought I was clear. We had a pretty good run on the outside. I knew it was gonna be close. I thought we were clear. I looked and I started moving and I kept moving and didn’t feel anything and we were all the way to the yellow line before we even touched and as soon as we touched I moved back up, but he was already slowed down just enough. So I don’t really know what happened. I don’t know if I was clear and I was a little bit indecisive and moved too slow to make sure I got in front of him, or he was there the whole time. I’m not really sure. I’d have to obviously watch it because everything happened so fast there at the end.”
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT THERE WAS A WRECK HAPPENING BEHIND YOU AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD WON? “I saw Tony’s back bumper. I saw him getting spun out. I don’t know how that happened or how he got in that position, but I saw him spinning out and then when we were clear of him I didn’t know if Kevin was still back there. You check your mirror at a lot of these places, I looked in the mirror and, honestly, there was nobody back there, so I thought it was our race then. I just kind of slowed down and got it back to the finish.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – HOW MUCH DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU KNOWING MATT WON’T BE BACK NEXT YEAR? “I hope it’s not the last race we win together, but it wasn’t my choice that we would end our relationship this year, but it is what it is and I’ll take what I can get between now and then and I’ll remember it with great pride and satisfaction.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 EcoBoost Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW: WHAT ABOUT THE LAST LAP? “Clint and I got together a little bit on the backstretch. I don’t know if that was my bad and we weren’t exactly all the way clear or what happened there, but that really slowed the group and we got a big lead, which typically isn’t good here. I just looked in my mirror and saw them coming at me three-wide. I kind of let Tony have his spot there. It didn’t look like he had a big push behind him and lined up with Kevin and we pretty much stayed locked together there until we got to turn three and I thought it was gonna be a drag race to the finish. I didn’t know what was gonna happen and I’m still not sure what happened. Somehow I think Tony got turned and caused a big wreck.” WHAT ABOUT THE SAVE YOU HAD WHEN BIFFLE PUSHED YOU AND YOU WENT TO THE APRON? “I was trying to go to the bottom, but not that far (laughing). That’s one of those I’d love to take the credit for but it’s pretty much lucky. I just kind of held the wheel and the car sort of caught itself and thankfully we were able to straighten it out with no damage. I’m just proud of Doug Yates and all the guys at Roush Fenway for giving me such a rocket ship.” WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU? “We had a lot of speed today, more than I thought we had. There were just certain spots on the track I couldn’t run and make it work. We were really loose and we were on the bottom and I had people pushing me and people outside of me it was just really hard to control. The track kept getting looser for me as the day went on and we never could get it tightened up. On the last lap that’s why I chose the middle groove. I knew I couldn’t be on the bottom or I’d get spun out, so I had to run the middle or the top to try to make a move.” TWO FIRSTS AND TWO THIRDS IN THE PLATE RACES THIS YEAR. “It feels great this year. I’m not sure it balances out. I feel like I’m pretty clumsy at plate racing my whole career and never had a lot of great finishes, but I’m glad the plan came together. These are the guys that deserve it. They do all the work and make these cars go fast. I was just holding the wheel.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – WHAT DID YOU SEE COMING TO THE CHECKERED FLAG? “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. Unbelievable. I was probably 20th and five-wide up against the wall and then cars started wrecking. A car flew over the top of my car as I turned to the bottom and missed guys by three inches. It was like Days of Thunder coming through the smoke and the grass and just kept it going straight. That’s all I did and once I was clear of all the stuff I kept going to the start-finish line, but it was the craziest thing I’ve ever been involved in in my life.” DID THE INCIDENT WITH MEARS ON PIT ROAD PROVE TO BE A BLESSING? “Maybe because we weren’t in the middle of all that, but I saw him (Mears) starting to go and I let off the brakes. I didn’t know what else to do. I have to get there so he can see me. I felt if I kept slowing down that he would have just turned me into the wall when I was turning in. I don’t know if I did the right thing or not. I don’t know what else I could have done than to just wait for him and go behind him. That probably would have cost more time than what we did, so I don’t know. What I do know is we had another really, really good car.”
MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “We were there at the end. We had a strong day. We decided we were gonna run aggressive all day and try to stay up at the front all day and we did that. We had ourselves in position to get a top-five and just got tagged there at the end. I thought I missed the wreck, but looking back at these kind of races at least I didn’t cause it. It is what it is. I have no idea where I finished, but we’ll just go on to the next one and forget about this.”
CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “It’s kind of how these races are in that you either have a really good day or a really bad day. The real fortunate thing was we ran really good all day. I was really proud of everybody on our Geico Ford. Roush built us a great car and our guys did a great job refining it. Bootie and the guys made good calls and kind of kept us in the game all day long and it was fun. I had a blast all day long. At the end we had the run to really win or be top three. That middle lane took off and went. I had the 55 and was shoving him pretty good. The 14, you could tell for a second that it’s almost like he thought, ‘should I go down or not,’ and then when he decided it was already too late. This stuff happens. Everybody is trying to win and make something happen. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the finish we deserved today, but it was fun to be competitive and run well.” THE CRAZIEST THING YOU’VE SEEN? “It was about the biggest wreck we’ve had in a long time at the end of a race. I saw Tony went upside-down and I’m glad to see he’s OK. It’s unbelievable we can go out and run around here 200 miles an hour and have a pile-up like that and everybody walk out feeling pretty good.”