home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


August 16, 2015

Joe Gibbs

Matt Kenseth

Jason Ratcliff


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post‑race press conference here at Michigan. We welcome Matt Kenseth, driver of the No.20 Dollar General Toyota, winner of today's Pure Michigan 400. Congratulations on your win here today. You now have three wins this season. Tell us about the final restart and the final laps of today's race.
MATT KENSETH: Thanks. Yeah, we had, obviously, a dominant car since we got here. It showed up in qualifying and Jason had it tuned up today where the handling was great as we had enough speed to stay up there. You never like to see late‑race restarts, especially at Daytona and Talladega, and this was almost a cross between that from the restart zone until the middle of 1 and 2, a lot of the guys would draft pretty good, and I had a hard time getting that to happen. The Chevys could lock up pretty good, so I was pretty worried about that last one and Denny gave me a nice push there, and our TRD engine ran really good and was able to stay alongside Kevin at least and clear him off of Turn 2, so that was obviously a big key for us.
THE MODERATOR: Also joining us at the head table this afternoon is crew chief Jason Ratcliff. Jason, top‑10 finishes for the team including recent wins at Pocono and now here. Tell us about the team's consistency.
JASON RATCLIFF: Well, these are days that everyone in this sport dreams about days like this, obviously. They don't happen very often, so we'll definitely cherish this one forever. Just perfect execution all weekend. I think it starts at the shop, obviously, great race cars and trying to attack this new aero package and everyone at JGR has done that. They've attacked it really hard and it shows. But just execution from the time we unloaded. I would say Friday was a huge part of our weekend, getting that No.1 pit stall and starting on the front row and keeping that track position all day obviously was key. A few aggressive and fun to watch restarts by Matt and the pit crew did a fantastic job, as usual.
Just perfect execution across the board. To show up with a fast car and lead the most laps and bring it to victory lane here at the end of the day.
THE MODERATOR: Team owner Joe Gibbs is also with us celebrating this victory today, five wins in the last six races. Tell us where the organization is at this point in the season and your thoughts on the win here today.
JOE GIBBS: Well, the first thing is it's a team sport all the way. We've got great partners, thanks to Toyota, all the hard work they've done over the last year and a half. I think we were behind, as I've said, and our whole team, everybody back at the shop, I hate it that those guys can't enjoy winner's circle and all those different departments back there that work so hard, and then of course in this sport you've got to have a great sponsor, and we've got one. Dollar General, want to say a big thanks to Todd Vasos and Rick Dreiling, everybody there at Dollar General. But it is a total team effort. Like Jason said, you really need to enjoy it because about 10 races back, we were struggling trying to get there, and you just hope now that we'll be able to hold some momentum here and head into the Chase, but it's very hard to do, and in pro sports it can come and go in a week. I think it keeps you‑‑ at least I think for all of us, it keeps us excited and after it and working hard.
I know we've got great people. That's what I'm really proud of. We've got great people. We've got‑‑ the Lord has blessed us with a great group of people that work extremely hard and really care about what they're doing.

Q. Matt, obviously you dominated most of the day. The 3 car was the only one to really give you a challenge. Were you surprised how well he hung with you there for a while?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I was a little bit. He had a really good restart. He was really aggressive. We touched a little bit even off of 4, and I was a little frustrated, not at him, he didn't do anything wrong, but I was a little frustrated, because I was like, man, I've got to get away. We've got such a good car, I don't want to be in any kind of situation to ruin our day and everybody's‑‑ I was there trying to get that lead, and hopefully trying to get away.
Anyway, then I finally cleared him and I'm like, I'm going to get away and we came off of 4 and I thought I had a good 3 and 4 the next lap and he got a pretty good draft down inside and drove back to the bottom again getting in 3 or into 1, I'm sorry, and it was hard to get back around him. So it took five or six laps and then we could really go. They gave me such a good car this weekend. We didn't really have a weak point, but if we had one that wasn't quite as strong it was just the first five or six corners, it would just be‑‑ wouldn't quite take off, and it was a challenge to get away from him, and you needed to get that five or six car lengths to kind of get him in worse air. It would take about four or five laps and then that thing would come in, and then it was unbelievable fast.

Q. Matt, it appeared passing was extremely difficult, so on those restarts was there more pressure on you, more stress, like man, if I lose the lead, I lose this race?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, it's hard to say what would happen. I felt like I never had to restart‑‑ third was the worst when we came off of 2 with the lead the way that restart went, so I was kind of in the front or was always in the front on restarts, but got in a lot of different traffic situations throughout the strategy even though they all ended up going through green‑flag cycles. I raced around a lot of cars and I felt like we had a really strong car, but it's hard to say how far you could have fell back or at all and still won. It's hard to say. I definitely felt like we had the fastest car by a fair margin for today's day and age. I was glad I didn't mess that up. But the restart is what made it the hardest. From the restart zone to the middle of 1 and 2 it was almost like a superspeedway restart, so you could lock together and push, and the inside guys would be real aggressive and start locking together and going, and if you got a big run and the guy behind you wasn't on you and pushing you and drafting you all the way through the gears, they could get by us. I almost had two of them clear me one time and thankfully we had such a good car, I was able to drive into 3 real fast around the top and get back around them. You felt a little helpless on those restarts. It was tough to get away for a little bit.

Q. Matt, just a review of the package, it sounds like there was some increased drafting at times, but not what they were looking for or what you were looking for?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I've got to be honest, I didn't see much of the race, which was totally fine with me. We were up front the whole time, and that's what you want, right? You want everybody in your mirror, so I haven't got to see much of the race to be 100 percent honest with you. Obviously I had to pass some lapped cars, I passed some cars for position off of pit strategy, things like that, so certainly was able to kind of mix it up and see what it was like a little bit, but I really didn't get to see much of the racing except what I saw in my windshield.

Q. Could I get an answer from Jason or Coach Gibbs on that?
JASON RATCLIFF: Yeah, the drafting, there was some racing going on for sure. It was fun to watch at times. You know, cars could really‑‑ at the end of the straightaway gain on others, two or three car lengths. But they just couldn't do much once they got there and they got down in the corner, they were kind of helpless. But on the restarts, it got exciting. I'm sure y'all saw it back there about I'd say eighth place back, it got‑‑ it was fun to watch. I'm glad we were‑‑ like Matt said, I'm glad he was watching out of the rear view mirror.

Q. Question for Jason: Jason, what kind of effort, can you describe, did your team put into this high drag package just overall, and do you have any concern that so much emphasis, if that's a problem in the two races for the high drag package will hurt you guys down the stretch at all?
JASON RATCLIFF: No, it definitely won't hurt us. Our guys put emphasis on every race. You know, they‑‑ for us, this race was different than it might have been for someone else, but for us it's another win going into that first three‑race segment in the Chase, so it's a bonus point, or points. So you put as much effort as you can each and every week. So they put as much effort into this week as they do any other week. I felt like we've had enough races with what I'm going to call the 2015 aero package, the one we started the season with. We don't by any means have it all figured out, but I think we're in pretty good shape on that. I don't think it'll put us behind at all.

Q. Jason, do you think with this aero package we see in Michigan, it's maybe a little bit easier to make this car faster or successful than with the package you had before?
JASON RATCLIFF: No, I mean, it's not. If we would have‑‑ the first race here a few weeks ago, you show up and you focus on downforce, and you had to show up at this race and focus on downforce, as well, but at the same time with the bigger spoiler and the tail extension, you have to be more mindful of drag, as well, because the wide‑open throttle time is so much more than it was when we were here a few weeks ago because of the drag that you have to be mindful of it. So it's a huge compromise.
You know, but it's unique. I mean, it's no different than when we go to Talladega or we go to Daytona. You kind of have to shift your focus on that, as well.
It's definitely not easier, not from my standpoint, because you have to find that balance, whereas with the other package, you just‑‑ you focus on downforce, and you let your engine builder at TRD bring you all the horsepower they can and to pull it through the air.

Q. Joe, obviously you've won championships and big races, but have you had a period when your entire team is rocking along like you are now?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think several people asked me that, and thinking back over the years, I can't remember where we've kind of had a stretch like this over these last 10 weeks or so, starting at Charlotte, and so, you know, you really want to enjoy those. They're hard to get, and pro sports, I think that's the reason why we all love it so much. We don't know what's going to happen from week to week.
The thing that amazes me sometimes is the quick turn where you go the other way, and so we've just got to keep working hard. I think our guys did on the two packages we were going to run this year. They really went after it hard, worked hard on it, and it paid off for us. But I think our focus, you know, now with our cars is Kyle, we need to keep him up in points, and the other three cars we need to hopefully stay up where we can put ourselves in a good position when the Chase starts.

Q. Matt, knowing that this package is not going to be used the rest of the year unless something changes, it doesn't sound like that many of the drivers are very happy with it, and we don't know yet how NASCAR will go, but how much does this win mean in the sense of yes, you won, but what can you take away from it beyond a trophy and some happiness?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I mean, first of all, Chase, no Chase points, no points, any of that stuff, I mean, these are all really big races. To win at the Sprint Cup level to me is a huge deal. It's something that doesn't happen very often, and you have to enjoy each and every one of them. We just got done going before April or whatever, we went 50 races or something like that without a win, so you'd better enjoy them all and appreciate them all. We work hard at Joe Gibbs Racing for each and every race because they're all huge events and we treat them all like that. Whether you use this package again, whether you transfer much again is really irrelevant to us. We showed up this weekend with the idea of trying to qualify the best we can and race the best we can an we'll do the same next weekend with the '15 package and then do the same thing at Darlington with the other one.
You know, every week is a huge week to me.

Q. The heat was a concern for drivers coming into this race. I guess TV showed it was 150 degrees in one of the cars. What was it like racing out there?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, it's a little bit hotter than normal. With the other package it probably would have been 140 degrees in the car or something like that, which isn't exactly cool. You knew it was going to be a little bit hotter. We prepared for that. Kristi here lobbied really hard to get some extra air in the car to keep the drivers cool, so that was a big plus. That helped us cool off a little bit and plus we were ready for it, so started hydrating a couple days ago and drinking a lot of Gatorade and trying to eat right and get some sleep. They helped me a little bit with some cockpit stuff. It really wasn't bad. Yeah, it was hot, but I've been a lot hotter.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on your win again. Enjoy this, and we'll see you next week at Bristol.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297