Matt Kenseth Wins First Ever Gatorade Duel for Roush Fenway Racing


Matt Kenseth Wins First Ever Gatorade Duel for Roush Fenway Racing

KENSETH GIVES ROUSH FENWAY FIRST DUEL VICTORY This marks the third time a Ford driver has won a Gatorade Duel qualifying race that has been a 150-mile event. Elliott Sadler (2006) and Kasey Kahne (2010) are the others. Ford has now won 22 all-time Daytona qualifying races. Bill Elliott holds the Ford Racing record for […]


  • This marks the third time a Ford driver has won a Gatorade Duel qualifying race that has been a 150-mile event. Elliott Sadler (2006) and Kasey Kahne (2010) are the others.
  • Ford has now won 22 all-time Daytona qualifying races.
  • Bill Elliott holds the Ford Racing record for most Daytona qualifying race wins with four (1985, ’86, ’92, 2000)
  • This marks the first Daytona qualifying race victory for car owner Jack Roush.

Ford Daytona Best Buy

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – GIVE US A RUNDOWN ON THE MOVE YOU PUT ON YOUR TEAMMATE FOR THE WIN. “We just had a big run there. Jimmie Johnson gave me a huge push there and that really worked nice for me the whole race there. Without that push it would have never gotten done. Greg (Biffle) lost his drafting partner. We were able to separate him and the 78 and we had such a huge run that Greg was kind of a sitting duck. I was going so fast with Jimmie’s push that we were able to make it past.”

IT WAS A LITTLE MORE TAME IN THIS SECOND DUEL. HOW WAS IT OUT THERE? WERE YOU ABLE TO WORK THE DRAFT AND FIGURE OUT WHERE THE CAR WAS BEST? “Thankfully our Best Buy Ford Fusion was really fast. Doug Yates and those guys have given the Fords really good engines this weekend. Once we got up to the front if I could stay toward the bottom and keep somebody sort of close to my back bumper we had a lot of speed which makes it a lot easier.”

Matt Kenseth

THIS IS THE FIRST WIN FOR ROUSH FENWAY IN A GATORADE DUEL AT DAYTONA. THAT HAS TO BE SPECIAL FOR YOU. “Yeah, that is great. Gatorade has been a great sponsor of myself and our sport and has done a lot for athletes everywhere. I am glad to finally have won one of these races.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – “It was a pretty good race. I learned a lot about the car. It was a little bit tight on those two tires that we did, but the car drove really good overall. It got a little dicey there at the end. I could have probably blocked a little bit more than I did, but that’s not the time to block right there for that win.”

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU SAW THEM COMING ON THE OUTSIDE? “I was thinking they might get stalled out. I wasn’t sure I was gonna stay committed to the bottom, but at the last minute I decided to jump up there and try it, but Matt is pretty smart. He was pretty far up. He wasn’t coming down close to us to where if I would have moved I could get in front of him. I had to move three lanes to get in front of him, so he did the right thing.”

IF THAT’S THE 500 ARE YOU STICKING YOUR NOSE UP THERE AND STAYING THERE? “Oh yeah. If that’s the 500, I’m either gonna get pushed or wrecked, one of the two.”

CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “Unfortunately, we’d love to go out there and go after it, but the reality of it is we would much rather race this car than the one we have as a backup. We played it really conservative today and just made sure we had a clean race car for the 500. I’m still excited about everything. You want to go out there and race, but, at the same time, you want to bring your best piece to the 500. I think we did what we needed to do today. We got through the 150 and we should be ready to go for the 500.”

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING TODAY? “It was good being up toward the front and being inside the top five for the first few opening laps. It gave us a good indication of how the car was gonna handle and what the temperature was gonna do, so it was definitely valuable being in the 150 to kind of get that information. We would have liked to have been better, but, obviously, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

TONY RAINES – No. 26 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion – PRESS CONFERENCE – “You can imagine it’s huge for me and it’s a big accomplishment for the team. Having qualified fast enough we didn’t have to put ourselves at risk today in the 150s, so it was a huge load off. Unfortunately, the other two cars – one got destroyed in the Shootout and one in the first Duel – so we’re getting a little low on cars, so that’s why we were a little bit careful, but I’m pretty excited about looking forward to running all day Sunday and getting the best finish we can.”

WHAT WILL YOUR APPROACH BE FOR SUNDAY? “Tentatively, that’s our plan to be on defense for most of the race, but I’m a typical driver. I suppose I’ll get bored at some point and want to see how fast I can go and I’ll probably get yelled and have to go back, but our number one goal – for sure – is to finish because watching the Shootout and the first Duel you just assume there are gonna be a few wrecks and our goal is to finish in one piece as high as we can and to help this kind of team to get off to a good start. Finishing 43rd or 42nd is not what they’re looking for, so, like I said, we tore up a few cars already, but once you get out there and get going, it’s hard to ride back there the whole race. But the second race it didn’t seem like those guys could close up as easy as what they had last year, so you have to be a little careful, but you’ve got 500 miles to work on it.”

Ford Daytona

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TAKE HOME A CHECK LIKE $250,000? “I went from negative to positive too, but this team has always run the third car off-and-on to help supplement the other two cars, so this is the one race where you can run on the purse, so to speak. It’s a good shot in the arm to get started because I believe if we had to race our way in today, and done that, I don’t know that we would have had enough money to race all day Sunday. To me, the best opportunity was to be fast enough out of the box where we can concentrate on running the race and hopefully pick up some sponsorship and put out a real good effort on Sunday.”

TREVOR BAYNE PRESS CONFERENCE – WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO HAVE A CHANCE TO REPEAT ON SUNDAY? “Man, I’m really excited about Sunday. It really can’t get here fast enough. It’s just a build-up all week long and we’re getting pumped up about it, but we’ll see what happens once the race starts and we get going there. It was really good to get on the track and actually move around and race today. I learned a lot being at the front early in the race with Carl Edwards and Michael McDowell. We got up to the front there a couple times and being in the middle and the back of the pack I just wanted to move around and try to get a feel for the whole pack because a majority of the time you don’t get the luxury of being in the lead, so I just wanted to learn and that’s what we did today. I was really proud of our team. They’ve built a great race car. I hit a spring off of Danica’s car or something, right in the center of the grille, so they’ll get that all patched up and we’ll be ready to roll again for the 500.”

HOW IS YOUR HEALTH AND ARE YOU APPROACHING THIS YEAR ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN LAST? “No. On that question, I come into every season just fired up and ready to go racing and make the best of our opportunity. Unfortunately, I’m not running Nationwide full-time this year, so the races that we do run, we just go to win them, I guess. That’s the thing that changes our perspective more so than winning the Daytona 500 or anything like that. The 500 perspective is a little bit different this year because I think we get a little bit more greedy when we know we have the chance to win. You’re not complacent with a top-15 finish, so you want to be at the front as quick as possible and make it all work, but my health is great. I feel good to go. I flew in an F-16 the other day. That one put me under the weather for about a half-a-day, but that wasn’t due to anything wrong with me, that was just a lot of g-forces, but I feel good to go again.”

WHAT DID YOU DO FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY AND IS THERE PRESSURE TO PERFORM WELL TO ATTRACT A SPONSOR? “I don’t really feel pressure in that. I’m 20 years old and wanted to make it as quick as I can. Wow, I’m 21. He just told me how old I was. I’m 21 years old, so I’m even older, but, for me, I want to make the most out of my career as early as I can. I would love to be full-time Cup this year, so the sponsorship, as soon as it gets here, I’m ready to go racing, but I don’t feel anymore pressure in that. I want to perform whether we have a full-time sponsor or whether we have no sponsorship I want to perform the same and that’s to win races and to win championships and just give it everything that we’ve got.

That’s what my team knows. They know that if we’re giving it everything we’ve got, then there’s nothing more we can do. That’s what I told them before the race today and that’s what I’ll tell them before the 500 and you can still sleep at night when you know you’re giving it all that, but I feel good about this season and I think we’re gonna have some really strong runs. I think we’re gonna have a strong run here and, as far as the first part of that question, my posse just got here today, so they weren’t here for my birthday, but I didn’t really do much. I just went to dinner, so that’s about it.”

HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO BE IN THIS SITUATION WHERE YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD BE DOING AT THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER? “A little bit. It’s always frustrating when you feel like you can and should be doing more as far as races go. I’d love to be running Nationwide full-time and it’s almost a little bit of a step sideways for me this year because I’m not running full-time in Nationwide, but we can always add on to that. I’m hoping that we’ll be leading the points after the first three races and we’ll have sponsorship and go racing some more, but it’s like I said, I just have to make the most of all the opportunities that I have and show everybody that I’m not gonna sit around and complain about it. I’m fortunate to be the age that I am and have the opportunity that I have. I’ve raced against thousands of kids along the way that don’t even get this chance, but I want to be around for a long time and stay around, so that requires having sponsorship, that requires running for championships, and running for race wins and that’s what we want to do.”


JIMMY FENNIG: “Yeah, it was a good move by Matt and Jimmie Johnson to set Greg up. He was a little bit of a sitting duck there but when those guys got hooked up it was good and he took it to victory lane from there. It was a good move, a very good move.”

JACK, YOU ARE SITTING ON THE POLE. ALL YOUR CARS ARE GOING TO BE RIGHT UP AT THE FRONT FOR THE DAYTONA 500. JACK ROUSH: “Thanks Kerry. Painfully it has been brought to my attention that this is the first duel twin 150’s we have won in my 25 years. I am certainly embarrassed about that. We had really strong Fords today. Doug and the guys in the engine shop did a great job with the engine. The engines qualified well and of course they draft well and they do at least average in keeping water in the cooling system. Matt did a super job and Matt likes to hang around the front of these fields.

Not everybody agrees with that but Matt likes to hang around the front of the field and it paid a dividend today. He did a great job. He wouldn’t have won the race unless somebody would have helped him. Jimmie Johnson I guess decided he would rather be close to Matt than get shuffled back. Whatever the reason was, the win was primarily attributable to the fact he had somebody help him. The difference in the speed of the cars is not as great as the difference in the cars being hooked up and not being hooked up. Matt did a great job; he always does a great job. Jimmy and the guys did a terrific job all winder and Matt is the man.”

JACK, CAN YOU SPEAK TO THE ENGINE TEMPERATURES YOU SAW IN YOUR CARS TODAY AND ANY SUGGESTIONS YOU WOULD GIVE TO NASCAR FOR THAT? JACK ROUSH: “I hoped to have the engines that had the most tolerance for temperature in the field and then it doesn’t matter what the temperatures are. The FR9 engine has proven to be at least average. I have heard reports of 270 degrees. I don’t know if that is real or if it was sustained. I haven’t looked at the data yet. When we get back to the engineering center we will be able to look our data over now that we have our data acquisition up with the fuel injection. I think that 270 degrees was probably a real number and that some people are able to hold their water at 270 and some aren’t.”

AFTER GOING THROUGH THE SHOOTOUT AND THE DUELS, HAS NASCAR’S DECISION TO ELIMINATE IN CAR COMMUNICATION HAD ANY PRACTICAL AFFECT ON THE RACING? JACK ROUSH: “If you are not in pairs for most of the race then I think it doesn’t matter. If you are able to set up a partnership as a driver with another driver then I think there is a great benefit because once you have that done you can have one spotter coordinating things and the drivers are able to communicate with one another if they need to. I think that you will see in the 500 that I don’t think there will be as much two-car drafting as we saw in the previous race or two but there will be some when it comes time to join seal the deal over the last 10 laps or so.”

MATT KENSETH — THAT WAS QUITE THE MOVE YOU PUT ON THERE AT THE END OF THE RACE. TALK ABOUT THAT PERFORMANCE AND YOUR MINDSET AS YOU LOOK TO GET YOUR SECOND DAYTONA 500 VICTORY. “Thanks, I feel a lot better today than we did after Saturday night. We had a lot of speed in our car. When we got out front early I could tell we had a really fast car. I just had to figure out where to put it and who to be with. Early on, Jimmie (Johnson), I seen him on the outside and I went up in front of him and he was able to push us to the front and we were able to stay up there quite awhile.

When I saw him on the outside at the end I decided that was my best shot at the win instead of trying to get under one of the guys in front of me and still have one in front of me. I just kind of backed up to his bumper and he stayed with me and shoved me all the way through there.”

JACK, DID YOU FIGURE YOU WOULD BE IN HERE WITH BIFFLE? JACK ROUSH: “To be leading the race as much as Greg did it kind of sets you up to be a sitting duck. I had a sense of foreboding that he probably wouldn’t be there. I hoped he would and the fact that it strung out a little bit gave me help. It would have been unusual for there not to be a challenge from two cars and I am just happy that Matt was in front of Jimmie instead of Jimmie in front of Matt.”

MATT THAT WAS A GREAT MOVE ON THE SWING TO THE INSIDE. WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT BIFFLE WENT HIGH LIKE HE DID? “We were going so much faster that we were going to go by him regardless and I think that was his only hope, to try to get up the track and try to line my bumper up so I had to push him. I was going too fast and even if I wanted to slow down, which I didn’t on the last lap, I couldn’t have. Jimmie was pushing me so hard and we were locked together and I know Jimmie can’t see what is going on so I had no other choice. Wherever he went I was going to go the opposite way. I was just thankful that when he did do that block that Jimmie was able to be clear because when I turned down to the bottom if Jimmie couldn’t squeeze up there in the middle I would have lost the seal and we would have been history. Luckily we were able to stay together and get clear of those guys.”

IT WAS A RELATIVELY CALM RACE, DO YOU EXPECT THAT FOR SUNDAY OR MORE LIKE WE SAW SATURDAY NIGHT? “I think you will see a mixture of everything. Hopefully more like we saw in this second race. It was warm out there. There was a little handling that came into play and it was a lot harder to get from the back to the front than what I expected. When I was able to get Greg to the lead he worked the bottom and I worked the top and we dropped back quite a ways. I think that was before a pit stop and we had to come in and Jimmy made a great call of no tires to get back in front of those guys. I don’t think we would have got back to the front without that call. It was tough once you got shuffled back to work your way all the way back to the front. The cars were hot enough that you couldn’t lock together very long especially if you were in the back and it was tough to get there. There are going to be more cars out there in the 500 so there will be a bigger whole in the air and the rear cars will be able to go faster and that will create more passing but I think you will see a mixture. Hopefully it is more of what we saw today.”

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN TWO RACES THIS WEEK? “I think the biggest difference from Saturday to today, there are a couple of things, the track conditions are fairly different. It was real cool out Saturday and obviously it was dark, so there was more grip, the engines ran cooler, you could push longer, and it was the first race of the season and it was the first race with these rules. I think a lot of people were feeling different things out and I think even the guys that weren’t in that race, that got to watch it on TV, learned a lot. When you get on somebody’s left-rear, you’re gonna spin them out. I just think you learned a lot about how big the run was, where you can help push people, where you can’t, what information you want from your spotter. I think a lot of people watching that race and the people that were in it that wrecked probably learned a lot from it as well and I think that probably played a little bit into today.”

WHAT ENGINE TEMPS DID YOU SEE? “210, I’m just kidding. I thought Jack was gonna punch me if I said how hot it was. I didn’t really watch the gauge a lot, honestly. I more watched if water was coming out and where our water pressure was, so you really watch that more than anything. Like at the end, I’m sure Jimmie’s car was hot pushing me, but after you take the white you know the race isn’t gonna be restarted it doesn’t really matter from a driver’s perspective. You’re gonna get all the speed you can out of it, so it was probably a little warmer and lost a little more water than what I would have liked, but I think it’s gonna be a little cooler Sunday. The only other little bit of a concern from my standpoint, especially being in the back, is if you get a little trash on the grille or something there’s not a lot of room for error there, but it was OK.”

WHERE DOES THIS WIN RANK AND CAN YOU EXPOUND ON WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU PUSHED GREG TO THE FRONT AND THEN FELL TO 13TH? “It’s always really fun to win no matter what kind of race it is. Obviously, it’s half the field and it’s not a points race, so it’s not like winning the Daytona 500 or going and winning Phoenix, but it’s still a big win for us. We’ve never been able to win one of these races down here – Shootout or 150 or any of that stuff and we’ve been trying for a long time – so it feels good to have everything go right there at the end and have everything line up and to be able to win that race. It feels good and you feel a lot more confident than what you do after having a bad race like Saturday where you get wrecked.

With Greg, he got back there and I started pushing him and we got locked together real good and I was gonna push him all the way to the lead. I could push just a little bit longer or I was gonna be too hot, and the guy who was leading kind of pulled me off of Greg just a little bit and Greg had the momentum and he just pulled to the bottom because I think he thinks that we were probably gonna go to the back, so we needed to stay sealed up pushing each other for another 15 feet so we could have both cleared that car and got down, but as soon as he got cleared, we separated and I think he just pulled in line there and kind of left me by myself and I had a slow journey from second to 13th, so it took kind of the day to get back in there, but even if we would have stayed out there I don’t know that we would have got him, so that’s your job as a driver.

He got up to the lead and had a chance to get down in there and stay in position to try to win the race and that’s what you’re supposed to do is take that spot.”

DO YOU AGREE THAT DOING WELL IN THIS RACE SHOWS STRENGTH AND WILL THE RESULT TODAY MAKE PEOPLE WANT TO WORK WITH YOU SUNDAY? “I agree with him that it is important. I also think you always want to do your best, but you really want to try to do your best in this race to try to be loyal to a guy that’s helping you – not make anybody mad or be erratic and hang somebody out too bad or do something that not only the person is gonna think about for Sunday, but the people watching are saying, ‘I don’t want to do that. I’m gonna push him to that spot and he’s gonna leave me sitting,’ so I think you always want to do that. Obviously, having a fast car makes my job a lot easier, so I thought from working with Jimmie early in the race and helping him get up there and him helping me get up there probably helped us a little bit there at the end hopefully.”

ROUSH FENWAY HAS THREE OF THE TOP FOUR STARTING SPOTS. DOES THAT LOYALTY EXTEND TO YOUR TEAMMATES AND WILL YOU TRY TO LINK TOGETHER AND PULL AWAY EARLY? “I don’t know that you’re gonna be able to do that. I think you’re not gonna want to do a lot of pushing, especially early in that race and push water out of your car or get hot or stress the engine or any of that stuff, so I don’t think there’s gonna be that much pushing, except for maybe a half-a-lap after a restart or something like that in the beginning of the race, at least there probably won’t be for me, so, certainly, I think you race all day – you just race to try to have yourself in the best position.

Like always, you’re gonna try the best you can to take care of your teammates as good as you can. Obviously, if it’s multiple choice at the end and you’re gonna get the same answer for yourself, obviously, you’re gonna go with a teammate instead of going somewhere else when it comes down to the end of the race. But I think, really, the first 480 miles is gonna be about trying to get in the best position you can, try to hold the best track position you can, try to hopefully find a safe spot where you can keep your car cool and you can hopefully be away from any trouble.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR GREG? “Greg did it right today. He was just in a situation where he couldn’t stop a run that was coming at him. By being out front he kept himself out of harm’s way all day. That was certainly good strategy and you see what happens at the end. If things had broken a little bit differently, it could have been more of a foot race than it was between Greg and Matt, but you’re gonna lead this thing if you can, you’re not gonna fall back to fifth and sixth and take a chance on getting caught in the middle or getting shuffled and take what you get.”

WAS JIMMIE GOING WITH YOU JUST A COINCIDENCE? “It’s not like we made a deal before the race or anything like that. It’s not like that kind of deal, but, first, you’re gonna try to do whatever you can to get the best finish for yourself. Early in the race when we pushed each other and got me to the front and he ended up passing me and got good position and stayed there the whole time, and then, really, he moved to the outside to make a move and really didn’t have a run, so I was just guessing that’s what he wanted.

If you’re the first one in that row, you’re gonna be the first one to pass the leader if you’re in front of him, so I just backed up in front of him. I really thought that we’d stay attached and he’d push me to the front and probably pass me off of four like Kyle did Saturday, but, somehow, I think when Greg went up to block and we went underneath him, I think, somewhere just shortly after that, I believe we came unattached.

I’m not really sure without watching it what happened with everybody, but I looked up and it looked like they were at least three-wide behind me and I was way out there and, thankfully, they didn’t get to team back up and run me back down. I don’t know, but somehow we came unattached there, but that’s kind of what I expected to happen after watching Saturday’s race.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WILL YOU SUGGEST ANYTHING IF NASCAR ASKS YOU ABOUT THE WATER TEMPS? “The reason that they went to the lower pressure cap and they went to a smaller opening is they said they didn’t want the cars to stay together and as anxious as I am to be on NASCAR’s good side, I don’t want to be the guy to raise my hand and say, ‘We’re gonna stick these cars back together by increasing the pressure cap or opening the radiator up or shortening the tail,’ or one of those other things that they made changes to. But whatever they do is fine. It’ll be the same for everybody.

I hope it’s not a lot different than what we had today because today was a good dry run for the race on Sunday and I’d like for the things we learned today – that Matt, Greg, Ricky and Carl learned today – I would hope that those things would come into play on Sunday and we don’t have a huge change in rules.”

Gerald Ferreira

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Published : Friday February 24, 2012

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