Kenseth on Michigan podium

KENSETH FINISHES THIRD; LEADS FOUR ROUSH FENWAY RACERS IN TOP 10 AT MICHIGAN

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, continued his run toward the Chase with a third-place finish at Michigan on Sunday to pull to within 14 points of the top 12 in the standings. It was Kenseth’s fifth consecutive top-10. Three of his teammates – Carl Edwards (seventh), David Ragan (eighth) and Jamie McMurray (ninth) – also finished in the top-10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., won for his first victory since 2006.

MATT KENSETH press conference

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – “It was good. Our car was pretty decent all day. It felt like we were a little off, but our speed was really good all day. I thought it was a real fun race. I thought it was exciting, three- and four-wide racing, and track was real challenging today, so I thought that was a good time. But I thought we just kind of got beat on the pit deal again. We had an official in front of our car when we did two and that cost us two spots leaving the pits, and that really hurt us. Then, we had a little miscue on our two-tire stop and that hurt us a little bit, too. Just didn’t quite work out. There was a lot of different strategies, and some guys could make it to the end and some couldn’t, and we were just not exactly in the right place to capitalize on it.” ON PIT ROAD, DID YOU THINK THAT NASCAR COULD’VE PUT YOU BACK IN THE LEAD, AND DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THEY DIDN’T? “Well, I kind of knew they wouldn’t. I’ve seen them before when officials made a mistake and they corrected it – I can’t remember if it was Carl somewhere in a Nationwide Series race where the official called something wrong and put him back, so you hope for that possibility, but the official just walked out and stood right in front of my car when it was time to go and it was either run him over and hurt him or wait for him to get out of the way, so I had to wait. And it wasn’t really the lead, because that’s when Jimmie and the 77 stayed out, but it would’ve put us two cars farther foeard and the first car on fresh tires. At the end of the race, the way the caution fell, it might not have made a difference, but it might’ve. It would’ve had us probably in front of the 83.” AND, AT THE END, YOU AND SOME OTHER DRIVERS SEEMED TO EXPRESS DISPLEASURE THAT NASCAR ALLOWED THE FIRST FOUR CARS TO KIND OF GET ON THE APRON AND PASS THE PACE CAR. DID YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE? “There’s nothing wrong with going down on the apron, that’s what everybody’s got to do to save fuel. The problem was that – and I didn’t think you could pass the pace car, but the leader, staying in the gas and go 10 car lengths in front of the pace car and shut the motor off and then coast back and not maintain a cautious pace and then take off again, and took off off the apron, so it was just real confusing. I thought you kind of had to stay closed up, but if I was in their position, obviously, I’d be doing the same thing, trying to make it to the end on fuel. But, I remember when Greg wasn’t going fast enough across the line at Kansas, everybody complained that he wasn’t maintaining pace and he wasn’t the winner and blah, blah, blah, when here you had somebody passing the pace car by 10 car lengths and then 10 car lengths behind him and then back and forth, so I was just trying to figure out what it is. I mean, if it’s okay to do that, that’s good to know. I just didn’t know that you could ever pass the pace car. I mean, I’d try to do it, too, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about what they did.” ON THE TELEVISION BROADCAST, IT WAS SAID THAT NEXT TIME YOU’D THROW THE OFFICIAL UP ON YOUR HOOD AND GO. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT WHOLE INCIDENT? “You’re not going to run somebody over and hurt ’em. But he walked out there and saw all my guys were coming back, and usually when they walk out there they go all the way to the right side and look at the lug nuts, and that would’ve been fine – if he would’ve just kept walking I could’ve eased on out there and he would’ve been on the wrong side of the car but I could’ve gotten out of there and he would’ve seen that I was on my way. But the problem was the guys were crossing this way and he was going this way and he stopped right in front of my right-front headlight. I don’t know, it’s hard to fix every call, there all kinds of balls-and-strikes calls. So it’s just part of it. I wish he would’ve been paying a little more attention there, because track position is still important.” THIS IS WHERE YOU SORT OF STARTED YOUR CHARGE IN 2005 TO MAKE THE CHASE. YOU’VE RATTLED OFF FIVE TOP-10S IN A ROW. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE AHEAD OF WHERE YOU WERE IN ’05 AND CAN PUT YOURSELF IN POSITION TO MAKE THE CHASE AGAIN THIS YEAR? “I don’t know. I definitely feel like we’re getting better. I mean we had a string of miserable finishes there – a couple months ago, I think we had three or fourth that were 38th or worse or something, so things have definitely been in the upswing. We’ve been pretty good. Last week’s the best, I think, I’ve ever ran at Pocono, as far as speed and competitiveness, just that whole strategy thing again. And here I really think we had the car to beat – the 83 did at times, but overall I think we had the car to beat. We just couldn’t quite get it done at the end, but if you bring fast cars to the track every week and they’re competitive and they’re fast and they can run in the top five and run in the top-10, you know you’ll hopefully gather your points and win some races sooner or later.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (finished 7th) – “We played it safe, and I think that’s our sixth top-10 in a row, or something like that. It’s an all right job. We’ve been working hard at a lot of things, but I thought Matt [Kenseth] was going to get it – I thought we’d put a Ford in victory lane there. But, congrats to Dale Jr.. It’s been a long time since he’s won a race so it’s good to see somebody succeed. But, heck, we just weren’t good enough at the end.”

YOUR DAD WAS ON THE PIT BOX THIS FATHER’S DAY. “Yeah, that was cool. I was trying to get Dad a trophy, but it’s really neat to have him here at the races. You know, my mom comes a lot, and dad doesn’t come that often, so it’s really special for me to have him here and I’m glad he came.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion (finished 8th) – “A good run, a solid run. We just kind of hung out all day. Didn’t want to see that last caution come out, because I think we were going to finish – well, I don’t know, some guys were playing the fuel-mileage game. I think we had a top-10 car. Track position also meant a lot, playing the fuel-mileage game, the two-tire, four-tire, but we made good decisions on pit road and had good pit stops. I was back in the 20s at times and to get a top-10, that was a good run.” THE TEAM CONTINUES TO GET BETTER. ARE YOU IMPRESSED WITH THE WAY THEY ARE PERFORMING? “Yeah, definitely. Our AAA Ford Fusion was pretty fast today. Jimmy [Fennig, crew chief] made the right calls in the pits, and it just worked out the way it did. I think if we would’ve finished that green-white-checkered finish, who knows who would’ve run out, would’ve never had that last caution. But, a solid top-10 run. We’ll learn and we’ll come back for a second Michigan race and try to win it.”

JIMMY FENNIG – crew chief, No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion – “David is doing an excellent job. He fought back all day, he did an excellent job on re-starts and everything else. He’s doing an excellent job.”

JAMIE McMURRAY – No. 26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Ford Fusion (finished 10th) – “We had a great day. We should’ve just challenged for the win there with the way the fuel strategy worked out – the 88 car and I would’ve had a great race. But, I guess Hornish spun out and brought the yellow out, and then we didn’t know how long it was going to be under caution, so we came in, put tires on and finished 10th. It’s still a solid day.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion (finished 20th) – “The tire changer got his air hose hung up, I think, and left it out on pit road, and we ran it over. Hindsight, we did the same thing at Pocono, but we gained a bunch of positions by staying out on the track. We had enough fuel; we should’ve stayed on the track. We would’ve been fourth or fifth.”

EVEN WITH THE EXTRA LAPS, YOU HAD ENOUGH FUEL? “Oh, yeah. We stopped for fuel. So, we really made a double mistake, I think. We’re learning. It’s kind of tough to think about. I’m more upset about staying. I should’ve stayed out; I saw those guys pitting. It’s kind of a no-brainer for me – four tires and see what you can get. I forgot everybody’s pitting.”


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