Face Martinsville Challenge
Matt Kenseth comes into the weekend 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings while Travis Kvapil is looking to bounce back from consecutive accidents and David Ragan tries to rebound from a practice accident.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE? “It’s always been one of those tracks I seem to struggle at, so I don’t know, we haven’t been on the track yet. Yesterday was probably the best Friday we’ve ever had at Martinsville. We qualified 11th because of the rain, so I’m pretty excited about that. We’ll see what our car handles like today. There have been times where we ran OK here, and there have been times I’ve let the place get the best of me, so, hopefully, we’re gonna have a good run tomorrow.”
WILL NOT HAVING PRACTICE YESTERDAY BE A FACTOR AS FAR AS ESTABLISHING A RHYTHM AT THIS TRACK? “I don’t think yesterday’s practices being cancelled is really gonna affect anything. We’ll get almost a couple of hours of practice today and it doesn’t seem like it really takes that long. The trucks have put some rubber on the track this morning. I think that’s the main thing is to get the track conditions – with some rubber down – and get it where it will be somewhat like it will be tomorrow, so with that happening, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.”
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS TRACK MENTALLY? “It’s not really much different, if any. I try to approach every track the same and try to think about it, work on it, try to figure it out the same. Obviously, this track – for me anyway – takes more patience than any other track I’ve been at. I guess it’s not really the track, but it can aggravate you. There are so many cars around here and you’re always in traffic and it’s one of those tracks that it seems like you get run into a lot and you probably run into some people at times, too, which I don’t really like being run into and I don’t like running into other people, so it’s one of those tracks that’s hard to pass at, especially if your car is not exactly perfect as far as getting underneath people off the corner. It’s one of those that can definitely try your patience and you need to try to be calm as long as you can for me anyway.”
EARLIER YOU SAID ROUSH’S SHORT TRACK PROGRAM WAS BEHIND. HAVE YOU MADE GAINS? “Well, that right there shows you what I know. I said I thought their short and flat track stuff wasn’t very good and Greg won Loudon and I think Carl ran third, so I guess I had no idea what I was talking about. It was just us, I guess, so we didn’t run very good at New Hampshire. I don’t know how we’ll run here, that’s yet to be seen. But it seems like they must have got the stuff better because in New Hampshire the first time out, I don’t think any of us ran very good and, like I said, those two ran first and third.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE ON PIT ROAD HERE? “You’re going pretty slow on the track. I think this is the slowest track we have and it’s the slowest pit road we have as well, so it’s probably easy to speed on pit road because you’re going so slow, so if you’re not paying attention at all, you can speed real easy. The stalls are really small and since the lucky dog came around, and with all the cautions out there, there are still a lot of cars on the lead lap, whereas you used to have races here where you wouldn’t have a lot of cars on the lead lap. But with the lucky dog and the amount of cautions, and giving them back every caution, you could give back 15 or 20 laps during the day, so that usually keeps pit road fairly crowded. The main thing there is if you’re pitting around two people that you’re racing with all the time – in between them – it makes it very, very difficult.”
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, was involved in a single-car accident during Saturday’s first practice session and will be forced to a back-up for tomorrow’s race. He spoke about the accident between practices.
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion – “I just made one mistake and now we’ve got to go to a back-up car. I drove in a little bit too deep getting into turn one. I was just trying to drive as hard as I would in the race to try and give good feedback and just made a mistake and didn’t use good judgment on what we had. We had a real good car. Our AAA Ford will still be fine. It’s gonna be fast. Jimmy and the guys always prepare good race cars so, fortunately, we’ve got the second practice and we’ll shake this car down and there’s still no reason why we won’t be a contender on Sunday.”
TRACK POSITION OBVIOUSLY BECOMES THE BIG CHALLENGE TOMORROW? “Yeah, the biggest thing is just staying on the lead lap and between everyone beating and banging and some cautions, we should be able to make it to the front pretty quick. I just have to drive a super-smart race and just have to be perfect the rest of the weekend, but it can be done.”
Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 All Sport Ford Fusion, has been involved in back-to-back multi-car accidents at Talladega and Charlotte. He spoke about his physical condition and how he plans on staying out of trouble this weekend at Martinsville.
TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 28 All Sport Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER TAKING A COUPLE OF PRETTY GOOD HITS AT TALLADEGA AND CHARLOTTE? “I feel really good. I’m happy that neither one of those hurt at all – no bumps or bruises or even soreness – and it’s because we have good quality, safe race cars. I’m disappointed with the last two weeks because I felt we had cars that were gonna run in the top 10 or top 15 for sure and just didn’t quite make it to the end. I’m disappointed with that, but we’re coming to a great track for our team. We had a strong car here for the spring race and I’m just looking to get a good finish this weekend. I’m excited about being at Martinsville. It’s a place I really enjoy going to and I think we can have a good result this weekend.”
WHAT IS YOUR STRENGTH WHEN IT COMES TO THIS TRACK? “It’s tough because you’ve got to go, especially starting by points. We’re disappointed we didn’t get a chance to qualify. I think we could have qualified pretty decent, but we’ve got to start 25th. The early part of the race you have to be working on going forward. You can go a lap down here so fast when the leaders get out in clean air and there’s no traffic to fight, so it’s important to go but also to keep your nose clean. It’s like the first 200-300 laps, you’ve got to really take care of the front end of your car and make sure you keep the brake ducts on it and take care of your brakes. The last half of the race a lot of guys will fall off the lead lap or they fall out and that’s when you really have to make sure your car is competitive for the last 100-200 laps so you can go for the win or a good finish.”