Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (ninth) and Carl Edwards (14th) were the top two Ford finishers at Pocono during the rain-shortened race in June. Edwards, in 2005, became just the second driver (now three) to win a Cup race at the uniquely shaped 2.5-mile track in his first visit there. Edwards will also compete in the Busch Series race at Montreal during the weekend.

 _17-matt-kenseth-optimized.jpg

Image by: Jeff Kluss/ SIT

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – AFTER THE FIRST POCONO RACE OF THE YEAR WAS SHORTENED BY RAIN, ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO A 500-MILE RACE THERE? “Not really; I kind of liked the 250. Pocono is cool, 500 miles is a long, long time there, though. It’s a big ol’ track with long straightaways, and I don’t think the race would’ve been any better last time if it would have been longer, so I was happy with the 250 or 300 miles or whatever it was. I guess I’m ready to go there. We haven’t really run that well there the last bunch of years, actually. We did okay in the spring, and hopefully we can it going a little bit better.”

_mg_6833.jpg

Carl Edwards #99 Office Depot

Photo by Jeff Kluss/SIT

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – YOU WILL BE RUNNING TWO RACES THIS WEEKEND – AT POCONO IN THE CUP SERIES AND AT MONTREAL IN THE BUSCH SERIES. YOUR THOUGHTS ON GETTING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE TWO VENUES. “I’m pretty excited about next week. I get to go Wednesday to Montreal with P.K., (Pierre Kuettel) my crew chief, and we’re going to do some advance media. We’re going to go see some musicians up there and I’m going to see their studio and stuff. And we’re going to walk around, and hopefully get to learn a little bit about the city. And then we’re going to go off to Pocono and do all the practicing and qualifying. And, I’m not sure how it’s going to work, if we’re going to make qualifying or not at Montreal, but no matter how that goes – to me, those kinds of things, like going to Mexico City, going to Montreal – they’re awesome experiences. As race-car drivers, growing up I remember when I’d go all the way to St. Louis to race, and thought, ‘Man, I’m traveling. I’m doing something here.’ But to go to another and race is awesome. So, I’m very excited about next weekend, yes, because we run well at Pocono, and number two, Montreal is going to be such a novel experience. I love going racing in new places. The Mexico City race was one of the most fun things of the year as far as venues. I’ve never been to Canada. Everybody says Montreal is great. P.K. is Canadian, so it’s kind of a homecoming for him. Anytime we go somewhere new, I don’t know what to expect. I have no clue. I’ve seen one track map, and we looked at that, but I have no clue what it’s going to be like.”

YOU’LL BE VISITING LOCAL MUSICIANS IN MONTREAL? “We’re just going to hang out up there, going to see some folks, and we get to hang out all day on Wednesday. We’re going to do some media around there. I can’t remember who exactly is doing it, but somebody’s giving us a little tour of the city, and it should be a blast. I don’t know much about the history of that city – I’ve never been to Canada, so I’m pretty excited. There’s a band called Simple Plan, and we’re to go to their studio up there. So, it’s going to be cool. That’s the plan right now. You never know how the day is going to go.”

WILL YOU HAVE TO START FROM THE BACK BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING IN BETWEEN MONTREAL AND POCONO? “We might not start from the back. I think we might be able to make it for drivers meeting and qualifying. We might miss the second practice before qualifying. It’s the second Pocono race, so we just raced there a month and a half ago, or whatever it was. I think we might miss the second Cup practice trying to make it to Montreal. Right now it’s really tough. We’re working with customs, and Jack (Roush) is going to fly us up, I guess. We’ll try to make it so everything is speedy and especially coming back Saturday. There are a lot of people working real hard to make this work out.”

HAVE YOU TESTED? “Yes, we did some testing, I don’t think we are going to test again before that race. We tested a month and a half ago for it. It’s hard to test for a place that you’ve never been. You really don’t know what to expect.”

JUST BEFORE SONOMA, YOU RATED YOURSELF ABOUT A SIX OUT OF 10, WITH 10 BEING BEST, IN YOUR SKILLS AS A ROAD RACER. SINCE THEN HAS THAT CHANGED? “Sonoma went real well. Jamie (McMurray) was fast and we were catching him near the end of the race before we ran out of gas. I don’t know, I feel pretty good about the road races. I feel like I’m getting better every time and we had another great run at Sonoma. I’d give myself about a seven or eight right now. But I’m getting better.”

WHAT’S THE OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? “I’m really excited about this weekend to say the least. I’m excited about every weekend, but to go to Canada and be part of such a historic event in such a historic city as Montreal is gonna be really exciting. I’m leaving this afternoon to go to Montreal for our media day all day Wednesday and I believe Patrick Carpentier and myself are gonna go run around town and see some things. He’s going to show me around.  P.K. (Pierre Kuettel), my crew chief on the No. 60 Scotts Fusion, is from Canada and he’s going with me, so I’m just really excited about that race. Then I’m obviously excited about Pocono. We’ve run really well there. We got a win there in 2005. I love racing there, so it should be a fun weekend. I believe we have all of the customs stuff in order, so we can go back and forth pretty easily, and we’re just about ready to go racing.”

HOW IS THE HAND AND DO YOU EXPECT ANY ISSUES TURNING RIGHT AND LEFT IN THE BUSCH RACE? “I’ve got a great group of folks here with an orthopedic group and rehab center that has been helping me a lot.  It’s really not that big of a deal. My thumb feels great. It’s a really minor injury and it was really no problem at Indy in the Busch race or the Cup race. We’ve got a whole test day and practice day schedule for Thursday and John Andretti will be there to help out. He’s gonna be the one that practices the car on Friday for us, so I feel like we’re prepared the best we can be. I feel good. It would have to take some spectacular problem to keep me out of the car and as it stands right now, I think I’ll be 100 percent. We’ll just have to make sure the shifting is no issue, but I don’t believe it will be. It wasn’t this past weekend.”

THE BUSCH FIELD LOOKS STACKED WITH VETERAN ROAD RACERS. DOES THAT MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU, OR DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE ON THEM? “I feel like road racing is just like oval racing, it’s the specialty of auto racing. It’s a niche. There are guys who are really good at it and I think that in road racing it seems to me that the people who have the most experience on a given race track are the ones that have an advantage. So the guys I would be concerned about going in would be guys that have a lot of experience on this circuit, combined with a little bit of experience in stock cars. So if there are any of those guys entered in this race, those would be the guys I’d watch, but I love it. It’s fun to get to race against different people. That’s one of the beauties about gonna Mexico City in the Busch Series because you get to race against so many different guys. You have local guys from Mexico and Mexico City and I hope to meet a lot of new guys this weekend. It’ll be fun.”

TONY STEWART SLIPPED IN VICTORY LANE AND UTTERED A PROFANITY.  HOW HARD IS IT TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS IN THAT SITUATION? “I think for anyone, we all slip up and say things we shouldn’t say. I know I perfectly understand that situation. It’s an amazing moment when you win a race or if you’re involved in a big wreck or you’re having a fight with someone or whatever, and then someone sticks a camera or a microphone in your face, it’s really hard to sometimes choose your words. The answer is that it is difficult sometimes. It’s pretty hard to snap in an out of pure racer mode and then go right to saying the right thing in front of the media and sometimes you just slip up.”

WHEN AN INJURY LIKE YOURS OCCURS IT CREATES THE QUESTION OR CONTROVERSY ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU GUYS SHOULD COMPETE IN OTHER FORMS OF RACING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “I don’t think there’s any controversy there other than people just like to speculate about things. The bottom line is I’m a racecar driver. I started racing cars because I love to do it. I never imagined that I’d have so much responsibility attached to it as far as people’s jobs and marketing for sponsors and things like that. It’s just like I said about trying to snap out of racer mode into media mode, it’s really hard to go from being someone that really just loves to race and would race at the drop of a hat – any chance I could get – it’s pretty hard to go from the guy that I was four or five years ago to the guy that I am now. The difference is now I do have that responsibility in Cup, so I guess for me personally, just having that slight injury there and seeing how much it could effect my Nextel Cup season and my Busch season made me take just a little step back. I know that in the future I’ll be just a little more cautious when I go do things like that, but it’s part of who we are. We like to race cars. I can go run a dirt race with my dad and little brother at a beautiful dirt track somewhere and get to try to win a race, it’s gonna be really hard not to do that. I just have to be a little more careful I guess.”

HOW MUCH ADRENALINE DOES IT TAKE TO RUN BOTH SERIES AND DOES IT TAKE A TOLL AS THE YEAR WINDS DOWN? “Personally, I don’t really get tired. I have a great trainer. His name is Dean Golich. He’s from Carmichael Training Systems and they’re based out of Colorado Springs. I partnered up with them and that’s been a big help to me to have a trainer – someone who looks at my schedule, plans out my workouts, my travel days and point out bottlenecks in the season where it’s gonna be really tough and to train accordingly. I think the hardest part is for the people who do all the stuff for the drivers. The guys who do all of my PR and my travel and planning and appearing, it’s really long for them. The crew guys essentially work seven days a week, 18 hours a day. This is a grueling season, but as a driver we’ve got every perk there is. We get to fly our airplanes and go home and visit our friends and family almost every week, so it’s really pretty simple for us, but I think on the whole for the industry it’s an extremely tough season.”

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF WINNING BOTH TITLES THIS YEAR? “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. I think about it every day. That would be the ultimate achievement, I think, for me personally. That would be an amazing achievement, so what I have to do personally to make that a reality is apply everything I’ve learned the last couple of years since I’ve been driving in NASCAR. I have to make sure that Bob Osborne, my crew chief in the Cup Series, we have to make sure we do everything we can to gather the most amount of points that we can. We practiced a little bit last year at the end of the season with 10 races to go. We said we were gonna go points racing and at the end of the year I believe we accumulated more points than anyone else in the series in the last 10 races, so I feel like we can do it, we just have to do everything right and rely on luck to be on our side. This sport requires a lot of luck, so I’ve been trying to get all the good karma I can.”

WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO CONSISTENT THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST? “I was thinking about that a little bit because obviously I want to learn as much as I can. I try to compare this season to last season and the season before and I don’t feel like we’ve run any better on average this season. I feel like we’ve had the cars that in 2006 we had some great cars but we just had some crazy luck and I got caught up in some wrecks and had some wild stuff happen that was both my fault and pure chance. I feel like that’s the difference between last season and this season, plus there’s always just a little bit more experience with anything helps. Sunday was a perfect example. We ran 18th and we had about an 18th-place car. A couple of years ago I might have wrecked that thing trying to run 15th, so just kind of knowing when to go and knowing when to get the most out of the day and move on, I think, has been a big key for me in points racing.”

IF YOUR HAND HURT WOULD YOU TELL US? “I’ve been to Walter Reed Hospital a couple times and I look around and I see a lot of people going through a lot of physical pain having great spirits and not letting it slow them down at all. So, to me, those folks inspire me. Meeting those soldiers and the people who have come back from war missing arms and legs and things like that, and seeing them just hop in their pick-up truck. I saw a guy hop in his pick-up truck at Walter Reed and he had two prosthetic arms and he got in his pick-up truck, waved to everybody, and took off. That’s a tough individual. For me just to have a dislocated thumb, really doesn’t amount to anything. I guess to answer your question, if it did hurt real bad, I wouldn’t say anything about it, and it would have to hurt extremely bad to keep me off the race track.”

CAN YOU RUN DOWN WHAT YOUR TRAVEL ITINERARY IS LIKE THIS WEEKEND? “Yes, I have an itinerary. LeAnne Howell, Randy Fuller and Angela Tucker are the three people who help with these weekends.  I know Angela, my assistant, called me this morning and she’s at her wit’s end. She can’t wait for this weekend to be over because it’s been really tough to plan with crossing the border back and forth, but, essentially, I’m gonna take my airplane and fly with David Ragan and Max Jones, our general manager, from Montreal to Pocono on Thursday night. Friday, I’ll do track activities in the Cup car all day at Pocono and then Saturday morning we’ll run the first Cup practice at Pocono and then fly in Jack Roush’s new premier airplane that’s pretty fast, so we’re gonna use his to fly over to Montreal and qualify, go to the driver’s meeting, run the race and then fly back to Pocono on Saturday night to go race on Sunday. That’s the current plan. The customs folks have been awesome. That’s been the biggest thing to try to work it out with customs so we could fly straight to the airports that are closest to the tracks, and they’ve been awesome. They’ve really accommodated all of us, so it’s been a lot of planning but other folks have done it for me. It’s been a lot of work.”

HOW DO YOU RATE YOURSELF AS A ROAD RACER? “I feel like I’m getting better and better at road racing. Last year we averaged about a fifth-place finish on the Cup road courses and this year I think we were one of the fastest cars at Sonoma and ran out of fuel like Jamie and some of those guys so I’ve been pretty good about it. I don’t know, I think a lot of that has to do with going back to the same courses over and over. I can’t wait to go to Watkins Glen. We ran fourth there last year and I really enjoyed it, so it’s something that I don’t think I’m the best that I can be at it yet, but I really look forward to them now, whereas the first year I didn’t know what to think.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK NASCAR WILL WATCH WHAT HAPPENS OFF THE TRACK AND DO YOU THINK MONTREAL WOULD BE A GOOD VENUE FOR NEXTEL CUP? “Having never been there it’s hard for me to say, but from all of my initial impressions dealing with people – this morning I talked to some folks with customs to file a flight plan and stuff, and all of the people that have been working on this have said that everyone is great to deal with up there. To me, not just racing but life is an adventure and it’s really fun to go do stuff like that. I feel like I’m very fortunate to get to go do this and race this Busch Series race in Montreal. Personally, if it’s logistically possible and feasible economically, I’d love to go race all over the world in these stock cars. I think it’s awesome racing, so hopefully that’s what NASCAR is doing and hopefully I get to be a part of it.”

DAVE BLANEY IS HOSTING AN EVENT AT SHARON SPEEDWAY.  ARE YOU GOING TO BE THERE? “I don’t know what I’m doing that week. There are so many dirt tracks around the country and it’s so much fun to go race with guys at the local tracks. I don’t know if I’ll be gonna that one or not. There’s no telling. I go to as many of them as I can, I tell you that, but running the Busch Series and the Cup Series full-time keeps me pretty busy. They’re kind of few and far between, but someday when I retire I’m gonna be at all of them.” 

Advertisements