Post-race press conference with Daytona 500 winner Matth Kenseth and car owner Jack Roush.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THE 2012 DAYTONA 500?
Kenseth: “It feels great. We even went overtime a little bit since we didn’t quite go the whole distance the first time we won it. We had a really fast car all day and overcame a lot of adversity and problems with the car that we figured out. We had a great pit stop at the end that put us into position. It feels great. I wasn’t expecting to win when I woke up this morning so it feels good to be sitting here.”
Roush: “It feels great. It is very fitting that Matt won the 300th victory that we have had since we started in 1988 and Jimmy Fennig has been with us for most of the time and Matt has been here most of the time as well. It is great to celebrate our 300th win here with the 54th Daytona 500. This is Matt’s second 500 win and that makes it special as well.”
AT THE VERY END OF THE RACE IT SEEMED LIKE BIFFLE MIGHT TAKE A RUN AT YOU OR EARNHARDT, BUT IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CAR THAT WAS A LITTLE BETTER THAN THEIRS. IS THAT ACCURATE OR WAS IT JUST BETTER STRATEGY?
Kenseth: “I think the 16 had one of the strongest cars all week and ours was right there as well. Our car for some reason was a lot faster out front than it was in traffic. It took a long time to get to the front but like Thursday once we were in the front it was hard for anyone to get locked on to you. My car was one of the faster cars and it was hard for the other cars to stay locked on to me. I learned a little on Thursday at the last couple laps there of what to do and what not to do and what this car liked. We had enough speed and once we took the white I felt sort of okay about it. By the time I got to three and saw they couldn’t get enough speed mustered up to try to make it move. The car had a lot of speed and Doug Yates and those guys deserve a lot of credit. They did a great job on the engine and it really restarted good and that was the key for all those restarts at the end.”
PROFESSIONALLY YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT SINCE YOUR LAST DAYTONA 500 WIN. DOES THAT MAKE THIS MEAN MORE HAVING TO GO THROUGH THAT?
Kenseth: “Yeah, last year was a great year for us and I think we went almost two years without a win or something like that. Last year was a really special year and I really, still to this moment, feel like I let these guys down in the Chase. I feel we ran good enough in the Chase performance wise and as far as what the team gave me to use and what Jimmy did and the pit crew did to race for a championship. We were able to win a few races along the way and in position to win a few more that we didn’t win. Last year was a great year for us. I think it built a lot of confidence and it really made me feel good and be happy. I was hoping to come into this season strong. You never expect to come down here and win but I didn’t expect to be as strong as we were down here. I am real anxious to get to the next few tracks and see how we are.”
DID YOU EVER ANTICIPATE WITH ALL THE CHANGES IN THE OFFSEASON THAT YOU WOULD COME TO SPEED WEEKS AND HAVE THE SUCCESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING NOW?
Roush: “The testing results over the winter were very encouraging. We brought better Ford Fusions here than we have ever had before with more power in the engine relatively speaking than we have had. Doug and the guys in the engine shop did, like Matt said, a really super job. I was more nervous about the durability of all the components that were unknown in the fuel injection than I was about whether we would be competitive. We had a fuel pressure problem we have to address in three of our cars tonight. Happily it wasn’t catastrophic and didn’t cause them to drop out. I was more worried about the unknowns than what I knew about what we were able to bring. The reduction from four teams to three was sad and we lost a lot of good people but we have got a lot of great people that remain on our programs and I was sure our three programs would be as strong as the three would have been in the other circumstance but we will look forward to finding the sponsorship to get the 6 car going again and hopefully get it on track before the end of the year.”
WITH TWO DAYTONA 500 WINS AND A CHAMPIONSHIP, WHERE DOES THAT PUT MATT KENSETH IN YOUR TEAMS HISTORY AND IN NASCAR HISTORY?
Roush: “Matt and Greg Biffle, they kind of duke it out trying to figure out which one has been here the longest, who has the seniority and I don’t think they are in an argument over who is the oldest but for Matt to have the success or Greg to have had the success of bringing the 300th win would have been fitting but tonight Matt had the best car and Greg was unselfish and worked with him and they pulled it off together.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEATING GREG TO THE LINE AND HAVING HIS SUPPORT WHEN IT COUNTED HERE? ALSO HOW MUCH WAS YOUR PATIENCE TESTED OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK?
Kenseth: “My patience was tested a lot. It is almost two o’clock in the morning. We have been here almost two weeks like a lot of you guys have as well. Greg, if he could have passed me on the last lap or with two laps to go he certainly would have. We had a pretty good plan on restarts to work together to help both of us get to first and second and get in line. Our cars were strong on the bottom when we got in line like that. It was a combination of working together and helping each other and it was best for both of us to get the best position we could get.”
CAN YOU COMPARE THIS DAYTONA 500 VICTORY WITH THE LAST ONE? WAS THERE MORE VINDICATION TO WIN THIS WAY AND PUT A STAMP ON IT?
Kenseth: “Well, yes and no. The last one, a lot was written about it and it was rain shortened and all that but we all knew it was going to rain. We did a lot that day. We charged to the front and had one of the better cars and was able to make the pass right before it rained which was good timing but I felt like we had a fast car and didn’t luck into that. I thought we worked hard for that. It is nice to go the whole distance and survive a green-white-checkered because you don’t know what is going to happen on speedway races.”
IT SOUNDED LIKE GREG AND DALE WERE SHOCKED THEY COULDN’T GET TO YOU AT THE END. WHAT WAS THE SECRET?
Kenseth: “If there was something do you think I would tell you? You know, our car was fast, even on the restarts when Junior tried to push me I tried to give him air and stay with him but he just couldn’t quite keep up and stay attached to us. We had to make other moves to keep my momentum up. I think when you come to plate racing a huge percentage of it is the car and how fast the car is. I think Thursday was really good for us because we learned something the last few laps that helped a little bit tonight.”
DO YOU FEEL CHEATED ABOUT DOING LESS MEDIA THIS WEEK? DO YOU CARE ABOUT THAT?
Kenseth: “I don’t mind doing it, but, yeah, that doesn’t bother me too much (laughing). It’s a busy few days. I’m sure they’ve got a lot of things planned. The last time I had a great time, Katie and I had a great time, and got to do a lot of neat things and see a lot of cool places, so I don’t really have any idea what they have in store for me this week.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRE ON THE BACKSTRETCH?
Kenseth: “I honestly didn’t see what happened. I heard second-hand accounts of it, but I didn’t see what happened so these guys will have to answer that or what they were working on the track early.”
Roush: “It was pretty amazing that Juan Pablo’s car broke just at the right time to create a trajectory that took him into the jet dryer. I still don’t know what happened to his engine. I saw the engine was missing when they loaded the car on the rollback. I thought it would roll out on the ground or it would be leaving after they moved the dryer, but I don’t know where it went. It was amazing that NASCAR was able to have enough Tide and to have enough oil dry and they had people trained and were really able to save the race track. I thought surely that the race track would be damaged and impacted to the point that it wouldn’t be suitable for continuing the race, but the NASCAR crew and the management did a great job of saving the race track and having a race for the fans. I was actually thinking that if they didn’t go back that rather than get involved in a wreck that I felt surely was gonna happen at the front that having Matt finish fifth wouldn’t have been too bad, but I’m glad they got it going.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAVE OF EMOTIONS YOU’VE GONE THROUGH THIS LAST MONTH AND HAVING IT CULMINATE IN THIS WIN?
Kenseth: “It’s been kind of a tough winter, so it feels good to get back to the race track and be able to just get down here and race really and see the guys and get to run, but to be able to win the 150 and to win the 500 as well is certainly a lot more than I would have expected or really thought we were gonna do, so it’s always special to win races. It’s really hard to win these races and the older you get and the more you race you realize how hard it is and you really try to enjoy all those moments.”
IF THE TRACK HAD BEEN DAMAGED WOULD YOU HAVE FELT CHEATED BECAUSE YOU LED SO MANY LAPS?
Kenseth: “Yeah. I mean, sitting there you for sure want to go back racing because we just came off pit road first after all those other guys were gonna have to pit and you want to go back racing, but yet Blaney was leading and we were gonna finish fifth. It could have been worse than that and, like Jack was saying, you go back to green and feel like you almost have as good a chance at getting in a wreck as you do having a shot at the win, so in hindsight, of course, I’m glad we went racing and did all that, but it could have been worse where we were. We were still in a pretty nice position.”
WAS THERE ANY TREPIDATION THE FIRST TIME YOU WENT OVER THE PATCHED AREA?
Kenseth: “It was far enough back in the corner where it wasn’t too bad. The bottom was totally fine. The middle and I didn’t get up much higher than the middle, but when you drove through the middle you could hear gravel, so I was not wanting to be pushed real hard through that spot. But I was able to run the bottom almost the whole time and there was really no issue at all on the bottom, and it was a very narrow patch as well.”
DALE EARNHARDT HAD A BOAT CALLED ‘SUNDAY MONEY’. WILL YOU BUY A BOAT AND CALL IT ‘MONDAY MONEY?’
Kenseth: “I’m not a boat guy, so no, but that’s a good name.”