Kenseth and Ragan Discuss Kentucky

Matt Kenseth and David Ragan took time to meet with media members Friday at Kentucky Speedway

Kenseth and Ragan Discuss Kentucky

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, comes to Kentucky’s debut Sprint Cup race in fifth place in the point standings. Like the Sprint Cup cars, Kenseth is making his Kentucky Speedway debut Saturday night and talked about racing in the Bluegrass state.

MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Crown Royal Ford –  IS THERE AN ADVANTAGE FOR THE GUYS RUNNING NATIONWIDE AND CUP HERE OVER THE GUYS JUST RUNNING CUP?
  “Probably a little bit, especially the guys that have been here before. I think it helps. I think track time always helps especially when you go to a new race track. I think running either the truck race or the Nationwide race or both should give you a little bit of an advantage about what will go on for Saturday.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU AND YOUR TEAM FACE WHEN YOU COME TO A NEW TRACK?  “For the driver it is getting used to a track, where the bumps are, where the preferred line is and where you need to go to make your car drive the best. Then you need to relay what you need in your car to your crew for them to give you what you need. When it is new for everybody, especially on a track that isn’t really brand new, a lot of these guys have raced or tested here before but when you come here and don’t have any time on a track it makes it a little more challenging.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO LOUDON, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL THERE?
  “Well, it is a lot like a big Martinsville. Your car needs to turn real good there, that is the biggest thing I always fight, getting your car to turn in the middle of the corner. It seems like if you can have a car that turns really good then it makes the rest of it a lot easier.”

IS THERE ANOTHER MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT TO LOUDON?
  “No because it is a pretty big challenge. If you can get that, you usually have a pretty good chance. Usually the guy that can roll through the middle of the corner fastest is the guy that will have a shot to win.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE LESS, THE SAME AMOUNT OR MORE ROAD COURSES ON THE SCHEDULE AND IF MORE, WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE THEM TO ADD? 
“I think zero road courses would be a great number, but that is just me. I will say that after the introduction of double-file restarts maybe all the drivers don’t really dig it as much because it is crazy but it is fun to watch. The restarts are just crazy running side-by-side at places where with the way road course etiquette was before five years ago, you would never dream of running side-by-side. It has made it an exciting race to watch for the fans.”

THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM FOR A YOUNG DRIVER. THEY USED TO BE ABLE TO COME IN AND DEVELOP BUT NOW IT SEEMS THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM IS IMMEDIATE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?  “I thought there always has been that. I don’t know that it has really changed that much really. I think when you get to this level with as even as all the teams are during this period and all the cars are pretty competitive and pretty close to the same I think that pressure is there to be good right away. You can really use the excuse about your equipment like maybe you could 15 or 20 years ago. I think that pressure has always been there. I think to be able to stay here in this garage you are expected to perform.”

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS NO DOMINANT CAR THIS YEAR?
  “Well, I think since they have introduced this car it has kept all the cars the closer to the same speed. Now you look at it and say, ‘Jimmie has won five straight,’ if you just look at it on paper then there is one guy that has dominated. We are only half way through the year and there have been some cars that have performed better than others but it has been a really competitive season with all the different winners we have had, but there is a lot of racing to do yet.”

WITH THE RAIN TODAY AND COOLER TEMPERATURES, WILL IT BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT OUT THERE TODAY?  “I don’t know. Never being here before I don’t really know. Whenever the rubber washes off it changes it for awhile until you get the rubber back on the track. I hope it dries up because the way we ran yesterday we could used all of our practice so I hope we get some more.”

DOES THE BUMPINESS BOTHER YOU AT ALL?
  “Yeah, I think it bothers everybody. It is almost ridiculously rough, even on the front straightaway it is so rough that is kind of knocks you all over the place. It is pretty rough. It could use a coat of pavement.”


David Ragan enters Saturday’s race at Kentucky Speedway in prime position for one of two Chase wild card spots thanks to his first career win last week at Daytona. Ragan talked about the pressure associated with that and recapped last weeks big win and more with media at Kentucky Friday afternoon.

DAVID RAGAN, No. 6 UPS Ford – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN CONTENTION FOR THE CHASE?
  “It certainly adds some extra pressure. We have to make that win count for something. I think that we have felt like we were close to being able to win some races this year and we knew we could do it. Until you finally get that win you never really think about how close you can be to making the Chase. Those wild card spots are going to be fought for extremely hard. I think this final seven or eight or nine race schedule – I was talking to Keselowski earlier and he is right behind us in points are we are another win or some more top-fives from being in the top 12 or 13 and a realistic chance of making the Chase. It puts some extra pressure on you and makes you really appreciate that win and look forward to these next races and make sure we are perfect and spot-on.”

WHAT WAS THIS WEEK LIKE FOR YOU? WHAT WAS THE COOLEST PART? YOU WENT TO ESPN, WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU WILL REMEMBER FROM THIS WEEK?
  “Well, I remember eating airport food a lot. I had a schedule appearance July 4th in Atlanta for Ford already so we went down and did that which kind of worked out cool. It was at Stone Mountain before their Fourth of July deal talking about the new 2012 Ford Focus. That was fun to hang out with local hometown people and some friends stopped by and saw us. Going up to ESPN was a lot of fun. It is something where we always watch NASCAR Now and SportsCenter but to be able to go up there and talk about something fun that happened and exciting, it was neat. That was a cool trip because you don’t realize what goes into the production of all the ESPN stuff around the world and to see that first hand and taking a tour talking about our win was fun for me. Talking to some of the local media on Wednesday when we did Race Hub and some of the stations in the Charlotte area was fun. Then we got back to work. I stopped by the shop for 30-minutes on Wednesday and usually I am there every day for a little bit of time so it was weird not being at the shop to kind of enjoy it with my team. I haven’t even seen some of our pit crew members and stuff since then because we have had different schedules. It was a busy week but it felt good to get back to the race track.”

YOU WOULD THINK THAT WINNING WOULD RELIEVE THE PRESSURE, BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE PUTTING MORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF NOW TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. 
“Yeah, sometimes I perform and the teams performs better under pressure. We have had pressure my entire career here. We will enjoy the win more in December and January when we can really enjoy it and say, ‘Hey, we are a Sprint Cup winner at Daytona,’ and this that and the other. We have a lot of fight left. It would be one thing if we were 25th in points and hadn’t been running well and we could just say, ‘Hey, we won a race and there is no pressure and that is cool.’’ Now we have to do something with that win. We’ve been close and we’ve had some top-10 runs consistently this year and now we have to make the best of it. I think we are as close to making the Chase as we were in ’08 and I have learned from that and hopefully we can close the deal on that this year too.”

YOU ARE THE THIRD DIFFERENT FIRST TIME WINNER THIS YEAR AFTER NONE LAST YEAR. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?  “That is a great question and I don’t know that there is an answer for it. I think in a situation like Regan Smith, I think the teams like that having an alliance with a litter bigger team like RCR or the Wood Brothers with Roush Fenway Racing closes that gap amongst the guys in the top-15 or 20 to guys that are 30th in points because you have cars like Regan’s example where he has been fast a lot this year and they have better cars than they have ever had and he is able to win races. I think by the smaller teams merging and having a technical alliance with other teams it makes the competition tighter than it ever has been. I think it may just also be one of those years where you have some first time winners and I am certainly glad to be on the list.”

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE SURFACE HERE AND ARE YOU AFRAID THAT WITH HOW BUMPY IT IS THAT IT COULD HURT THE SHOW TOMORROW NIGHT?
  “I am a little concerned because my car doesn’t drive that well over the bumps but there are some that do drive okay. I think that is character at a race track and I like it. It would be boring if we came here and the track was perfectly smooth and brand new asphalt. That wouldn’t be any fun. I like a track that has some bumps and grooves you can move around. I was kind of surprised at how the outside groove came in a little more yesterday than I thought. There were guys running a lane off the bottom to kind of maneuver around the bumps. The track here is perfect. It is different and unique and not really like any track we go to. I hope they don’t change it.”

IN THE WAKE OF YOUR WIN UPS PUT OUT A STATEMENT OF SUPPORT WHICH IS KIND OF UNUSUAL. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE STILL RACING TO KEEP THEM AND IF YOU CONTINUE TO DO WELL THEY WILL STAY?  “I think that the summer months are certainly the time when all the decisions are made. I don’t know for sure but my guess would be in the next four to six weeks is when a decision would be made. Certainly winning helps and running well helps and getting TV time and sitting on poles all helps. That is what I can control. The management at Roush Fenway and UPS will go to work figuring out the details. What I think about is what I can control. I have had a great time with UPS and I feel like we have a good relationship and a good thing going and I look for it to continue but that is something that the management at Roush and UPS will work on and hopefully I can uphold my end of the deal and keep that Ford up front.”

 

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