Labonte fastest finishing Ford

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (Finished 43rd) – “I think it had some kind of valvetrain issue. That’s basically what it sounded like, so I don’t know. Something busted in there. It’s disappointing we didn’t get to race today, but those guys do a great job on engines. Doug Yates and those guys, without their horsepower we couldn’t win races like last week, so I can’t really complain about those guys. It’s just something that happens every now and again and it’s just unfortunate it happened to us today.” HOW UNUSUAL IS THIS? “I think it’s the first failure we’ve had in over two years. These guys do a great job with engines. It’s just one of those things that happens now and again.”


“Yeah, first is better than last, that’s for sure. We just broke something in the engine. I don’t know, it broke right away. I can’t really speculate what happened, but something broke in the valvetrain or something like that.” WHAT WERE THE SYMPTOMS? “It quit making power and it started sounding funny. You know when something is wrong.”

IS IT NOT AS BAD AFTER WINNING TWO STRAIGHT OR DOES IT HURT MORE GOING FOR THREE IN A ROW? “I don’t know that I’ve ever dropped out on lap one before. It’s never really easy. We didn’t even really get to race today and we qualified bad, so it was a pretty long weekend for nothing. It’s disappointing no matter what. I’m glad we did great the last two weeks, but, really, you take it one week at a time and shift your focus to that race each and every week, so it’s always disappointing when something like that happens.”

WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THREE IN A ROW? “No. Winning the third race, seriously, was the farthest thing from my mind than anything. We approach it one race at a time and I’m very, very thankful for the first two weeks of the season that we had and for the opportunity to drive this car. You’re gonna break stuff once in a while. I think it’s the first engine we broke in two years. The guys at Roush Yates engines do a great job. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, it just didn’t happen at a good time. It happened at the beginning of the race, so it’s just one of those things that happen.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 42nd) – “On the restart is just started skipping and popping and we switched ignition boxes because I felt like it might just be something small, but it kept getting worse and worse and just wouldn’t go down the straightaway. I’m pretty proud of our UPS car so far today. It wasn’t great, but we picked it up some and seemed to be in decent shape to make some more adjustments, but it looks like something just let go in the engine.”

THE SAME THING AS MATT? “I would suspect so. All of the engines come from one source and they all do a great job, knock on wood. In four years at Roush Fenway this is the first time I’ve had an engine failure. Things like this happen when you are always trying to get the most out of things and I’m just disappointed it had to happen this early in the race. I wish we could have at least got to race some more.”PAUL MENARD – No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion (Finished 35th) –

ANY CONSOLATION THAT YOU HAD A GOOD CAR? “It makes you feel a little bit better, but that’s exactly what we did not need to happen. We were riding along and really just trying to be safe and the 47 was holding us up, so I kept trying to pass him and he was blocking. It’s too bad.”

IS THIS A CONFIDENCE BUILDER FOR A NEW TEAM? “Yeah. We’ll see how the points shake out here, but going into Atlanta I’ve got more confidence than I did coming here after last week. We ran pretty strong here today and we’ll work on it for Atlanta.”JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Irwin Ford Fusion (Finished 9th) – “I’m really happy with our finish. We had a better car than that and it got a little bit loose. We didn’t really make much of an adjustment and it got way too tight at the end. We tried to free it up a little bit and we just never really got the balance back as good as it was.”

WHEN YOU GOT THAT VIBRATION WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE ENGINE AFTER WHAT HAPPENED TO MATT AND DAVID? “Oh yeah. Honestly, as soon as Donnie started saying, ‘Try to save the motor,’ I would just kind of go wide open off the corner and then as soon as I’d get to about 9000 I would just about half-throttle all the way down the straightaway. It’s frustrating because cars would pass you, but you’ve got to finish. As a driver, you’re sitting there and I kept seeing guys blow up. Even if you were to finish 20th, it’s better than blowing up and finishing in the forties.”

YOU HAD THE SAVE OF THE RACE. WHAT HAPPENED THERE? “I don’t know. Someone got into my left rear and it just got me loose.”

WHAT DID YOU DO AS YOU WERE SLIDING? “I didn’t hold it wide open the whole time, but I just modulated the gas pedal and the steering wheel. I was really worried because I was a little groggy from having a cold and I didn’t feel like I was as alert as what I needed to be and when that was over I thought, ‘Pretty alert.’”

WHEN THAT WAS OVER DID YOU SAY TO YOURSELF, ‘THAT WAS PRETTY COOL?’ “Oh yeah. It took me three or four laps to get gathered up. When everyone passed me then I was just kind of like, ‘I need to get going here.”BOBBY LABONTE – No. 96 Ford Fusion (Finished 5th) – “We had a really good car in clean air. On two restarts before the end I thought I had a tire go down. It just went straight getting into one and I just got all jacked up a little bit and had to race a couple of guys. Then that last restart with three or four to go, Carl had problem down there low and I got around the 24. I got by the 26 on the inside, which is hard because it takes all the air off your wing, and then I had the 00 in my sights there and almost had a fourth-place but still, all in all, it was a really good day. I’m really excited about it. These guys have done a great job. We’ve got so many great people there working for us and I just feel like we’ve got all this confidence on our side right now. I’m excited we got us a top five and we’re looking forward to each and every weekend. It’s going to be a builder for me.” HOW BIG IS THIS? “It’s really huge. I can’t say enough for this Ford Fusion. We just had a great race car all day and all weekend for that matter. We were in really good shape there before that one caution came out. I thought we could make it all the way, but we were following Kyle there. The car was handling great and just hopefully taking care of the tires. We got caught up a little bit there on a pit stop. Jimmie came in a little bit late and I probably lost a couple of spots leaving, but that’s just the way it is. We rebounded to fifth. I lost a few on the one restart. I thought I had a tire go down and just went straight for the wall. I might have just bumped the splitter a little bit, but, all in all, I can’t thank Todd Parrott and all the folks at Hall of Fame Racing enough for giving me this opportunity. It’s a good top five, a good race car, a solid day.”THIS RACE TOOK A LOT OF TWISTS AND TURNS. “It really did. We were back there a little bit on some cycles of tires and stuff like that and it was hard to get a good grip on things. My car was fast and all that stuff, but I couldn’t make a lot of headway. I’d make up a few positions and then get kind of stale, but, all in all, Todd did a great job on pit calls and we just stayed out and did the right things, I guess. We were really in great shape there before that one caution came out when we were behind Kyle. We had some good fortune, obviously, we didn’t pit that one time and the caution came out and got some guys a lap down. We just dodged all the trouble and it was a tough race because a lot of things happened today. The track is just right on the edge. You’re always right on the edge of it, but we’re really confident that we really have a lot of great things going for us right now.” YOU SEEM ODDLY UNSATISFIED? I THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE MORE EXCITED. “I am down deep, but, dang it, just a little bit more. We had one more position we probably could have got in one more lap on the 00, but my car was really good. I just feel like I did all I could do, but I know there’s more for me to prove in these race cars and I can’t wait to do it.”HOW GOOD DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK UP THERE AGAIN? “I think I said the work ‘freaking’ in a press conference in late January and it’s pretty freaking awesome. I can’t wait to get back in it and go. We’re taking it one race at a time, so I’m excited.” HOW BIG OF A BOOST IS THIS FOR YOUR TEAM? “I think it’s a lot. The confidence it gives me and the confidence it gives all the guys. It’s just great. It’s awesome. We dug all day and really concentrated great and I think everything went good. We did all we could do and it was a good top five run for us. Through a cycle of stops there one time we could have been better than that. Obviously, we were worse than that for a while, so it’s just kind of one of those deals where you say, ‘Doggone it.’ We had one opportunity there for us that we really could have been in great shape, and then we passed two cars at the end. We came back and passed them on the inside off the corners, which is hard to do here because they take so much air off your wing and you get loose. We were able to clear them, flat on the gas and fast, so that was good.”JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – Roush Fenway Ford Fusions – “I think we misjudged how fast this tire was gonna be and the engine turned more. It’s the same spec on the engine that we had all of last year. It wasn’t something new or experimental, I had great confidence in it. We had it the last third of last year, but we saw more RPM with it in qualifying than we ever had and we saw more RPM in the race than we ever had. The tire didn’t fall off as much as we expected it to, so the tire did a real nice job but we just over-revved the engine. We had a choice of which rear axle ratio to use and we used the higher of the ratios and it was 200 RPM more than the other ratio would have been. We just made the wrong choice from a crew chief and from an engineer point of view on that. If we can go back looking at it I’d say I need to have more margin in the engine and it needs to be not that close to its limit, but if you go through and win the races we won last year late in the year in the chase and we had the success that we had in Fontana, there’s no reason to be nervous about it. The fact that it crept up a little bit didn’t raise the alarm that it should have. We’ll be wiser going to Atlanta.” WERE YOU NERVOUS AFTER THE FIRST TWO? “By all appearances we broke a valve in one, in the 17 engine, and by all appearances we broke a valve spring for sure in the other one. That looks like valvetrain trouble. Very quickly we thought that we were probably turning the engines harder than reason would dictate, so we passed that information around that said the RPM was a problem we were facing. But when it comes down to the final laps like with Carl, you’ve got to go for it. You’ve got to try to win the race and do the very best you can in the closing laps. Everybody had been going slower than they might have based on limiting the RPM at the end of the straightaway. Of course, they loosened the demon after the last caution there and the result was the 99 wouldn’t go either.”WERE THE DRIVERS TOLD TO GO SLOWER? “They told them that they needed to try to hold the RPM down if they could, so for that they didn’t turn it as hard as it wanted to go in the corner, so you give up the end of the straightaway, which is unfortunate. But you run as close to the limit as you do and as hard as the guys try, you have to squeeze every ounce out of every component in the car. We just went over the edge with the RPM on the engine today. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what we did.”

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