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May 19, 2012
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
KERRY THARP:Â Let's roll right into our post race for tonight's NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race.Â Our race runner‑up and our third‑place finisher have joined us.Â Our race runner‑up is Brad Keselowski.Â Our third‑place finisher was Matt Kenseth.
Brad, talk about maybe the new format.Â You won one of the segments.Â Then talk about that last 10‑lap shootout.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Okay.Â Well, the new format was certainly something different, which I kind of liked, something just different.Â We were fortunate enough to win one of the segments, like you said, with Kasey.Â That was a lot of fun.
Then it's all about making sure you're as good as you can be for that last section of the race.Â I feel like we were as good as we knew how to be.Â Jimmie was a little bit better.Â He did a great job.Â Hats off to him.
We had a respectable night, for sure.Â You can't be angry with a second, but I wanted to win that one extra spot.Â We just didn't have it.
Proud of the progress with where we started.Â We started 18th or 19th, I can't remember where, got a second place out of that.Â That's really good for the All‑Star Race and the way it plays out.
Good racing all the way through the midsections of the race.Â Just when I could have gotten to Jimmie and done something with him, but he was just lightning quick.
KERRY THARP:Â Matt, likewise, you were a segment leader.Â Talk about how you thought things played out there tonight for the 17 car.
MATT KENSETH:Â Yeah, I mean, it was good we were able to win that second segment I guess kind of by accident.Â Jimmy and I were talking about pitting, decided last minute to stay out.Â Got out front, had a great hard race with Denny to get the win in the second one.
After that it's kind of different because you spend 40 laps thinking about the last one, not over‑revving your engine.Â From there on out, we tried to save our stuff, make sure we had the tires on our car coming down pit road for that stop and go, made sure we were in shape for that.
Had a good start.Â Disappointed at the last restart.Â Couldn't get going.Â That outside lane was really, really hard on restarts.Â The few times I was on the bottom, the outside guy would lose three or four spots.Â In a 10‑lap shootout when you have all the fast guys up front, when you're third going into turn one, it's going to be pretty hard to win it.
KERRY THARP:Â Questions, please.
Q.Â After you each won your segment, Matt, you went to the back.Â Brad, you seemed to have a debate whether that was the best strategy, but ultimately raced in the back.Â What goes into that?Â Do you think that 10 laps is maybe too short on that final segment?
MATT KENSETH:Â What was the question again (laughter)?
I'm just kidding.
You know, after you won the segment, we won the second segment, so the end of the third segment, I ran hard for six or seven laps to check our temperature to make sure the car handled like we want.
There's a couple things.Â I watched what the 48 did.Â They won the first one, so they didn't race until the last 10.Â I don't know.Â I think if everybody else knows, but they seem to know what they're doing, pretty smart.Â We watched that, too.Â Kind of hung back.Â There wasn't any reward for racing up through there.Â You knew you were coming on pit road second.
Once you got your last set of tires, the goal, which sounds silly, was to run as slow as you can and stay on the lead lap.Â You knew those were going to be your tires for the last segment, so just kind of held onto that, knew we were going to come on pit road second, concentrated on getting out of there.
10 laps was way too short for me.Â For some reason, during the day, this place gets really wide.Â You see people up on the top and all the way on the bottom.Â It seems like all last year, seemed to be the trend again tonight, the bottom you had to work hard.Â When I was able to get by Denny, it took 15 laps at least under green, consecutive laps to wear him down to be able to get a run and get going.
For me, you got somebody as fast as him out front, there was no way I was going to have a shot in 10 laps, maybe if I would have got out and maybe stayed alongside of him.Â But 10 laps is kind of short, but yet the fastest car was out front.Â It was hard to beat that.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â 10 laps, I don't think it was going to make a difference if it was a hundred laps at the end.Â Jimmie was just that fast.Â So, you know, you can't really steal any of his thunder on that.
So, you know, I was doing all I could to get by, but wasn't meant to be.Â Passing is going to be difficult everywhere you go, especially when you have a really fast car.
Other than that, you know, obviously there was a debate whether or not to run hard or conserve your stuff.Â I hate conserving racecars.Â They're meant to run hard.Â I just wanted to make sure that everybody on my team was on the same plan, and they were.Â So I got to do what they tell me.
Q.Â Matt, were you a little bit nervous knowing that Carl and Greg both had engine problems?Â Brad, you came in and made a couple different stops I believe in the third segment.Â Were you just making a couple different tweaks to the car?Â What was that about?
MATT KENSETH:Â I didn't really see Carl's deal, but I saw Greg's explode.Â Whenever you have a teammate have something like that happen, you certainly think about it, because even though I'm sure there's different engine packages out there, I'm pretty sure we had what they had.
Felt a little better about the last two segments.Â We didn't have to run very hard, lift early.Â I made sure I was only turning 9 or 9200, just to kind of save it.Â It was running cooler back there, not running hot in the traffic.Â That made me feel a little bit better about it.Â Nothing you can do about it.Â Just run it hard and hope it hangs together.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I mean, we're just trying to be better, trying to be as fast as we could, working on it.Â Just wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything.
Q.Â Brad, you said out on pit road that the high line on the restart wouldn't go.Â Were you referring to the final restart or was that a situation that you saw all night long?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â No, I mean, I sucked up there, too, if it makes you feel any better, Matt.
I don't have an answer for why it doesn't work in the Cup car.Â It's a little bit peculiar.Â It's just the way it is.Â All you do is spin your tires up there.Â I don't really know why.
If you could figure that out for me, it would be great.
But, yeah, I felt the same way.Â Echo the comments that Matt said earlier about just wasn't the right deal.
Q.Â Brad, it looked like you and the 22 car could both get up on your competition to make a pass.Â Do you think that had anything to do with the new car or is it something you learned before?Â What do you think it is?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â We had two pretty fast racecars.Â Whenever you have two pretty fast racecars, you got to use 'em to your advantage, work the guys in front of you.Â You can only do that when your car is fast enough to catch 'em.Â Both of ours were that way.
I think you saw that in A.J.'s in the showdown.Â He had a great run there.Â I was really happy for him, to see him overcome some major adversity and make the show.Â When you got fast racecars and drive 'em hard, you can do things like that.Â A.J. was able to do that, so was I.Â That's a good thing, I believe.
Q.Â How weird or frustrating was it to have to ride around at the rear of the field?Â Three of the fastest cars in the race running around in the back of the field.Â Was this good?Â Should they consider changing the format?
MATT KENSETH:Â It's kind of strange to ride around back there.Â I mean, being drivers, all we're programmed to do is go as fast as you can, be up on that edge as far as you can without wrecking it.Â It's really hard to run slow like that, try to save it.Â Sit there for them 40 laps.Â At least me.
Thinking about that last restart, the last pit stop, you know, it's hard to get a read on your car if you're not running it hard.
I'm probably the last one to know or give an opinion on whether they should change the format, if it was good or bad.Â I think that's more what the fans think of it.Â This whole All‑Star Race is definitely for the fans.Â I think the best thing is probably to poll them, see what they liked, go from there.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Ditto.
Yeah, I'll race whatever rules you have.Â I'll race as hard as it takes to win.Â That was what it took to win.Â So, you know, I can't say I feel great about it.Â Happy that we were good enough to win one of the segments.
Dale Jr. got to win a segment because of it.Â That was great, right?Â We're just trying to help out Dale.Â That was our contribution, right (laughter)?
You're not going to say ditto?
MATT KENSETH:Â Not on that I'm not.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â That's just the way it is.
Q.Â For an All‑Star Race, this seemed like it was remarkably clean.Â I don't think there was a caution for any accidents.Â It was the debut of those side‑skirt rules.Â Did that have much of an impact?Â Would you expect the 600 to be similar with the amount of clean racing we saw tonight?
MATT KENSETH:Â I couldn't really tell much difference.Â I mean, it's a pretty small change.Â Maybe Brad will tell you something different, but I didn't notice a really big difference to it.
I did think, even though that last 10, I thought it was maybe a little easier for me to pass than I thought.Â When I caught 11, I didn't think I was much quicker than him.Â I was able to maneuver around enough to get by him.
I think it was a pretty small change.Â I think these cars have a ton of side force.Â They have those big sides on them.Â It's a big assist to the driver to be able to catch it and not spin it out.Â I think it was a little change.
I don't think it hurts anything to take some aero off the cars, that's for sure.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I thought you said it right.Â What if I just agree?
Q.Â I'll let you work out the ditto between yourselves.Â Given the pit crew advantage that Johnson had, if this race had been run 10 times, how many times do you think you would have won it?
MATT KENSETH:Â The pit crew?
Q.Â He won the first segment, had the advantage on pit road.Â If it would have been run five times, how many times would he have won it?
MATT KENSETH:Â I don't know.Â Doesn't matter.Â Just run the once, that's it.Â I don't know that I could do much better on the restart if I did it again on the outside lane, to be honest with you, as pathetic as it looked.
He had one of the fastest cars.Â When you put the fastest car out front, you got the five‑time champion driving it, it's probably going to be hard to beat.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I mean, he started sixth, I believe, and drove to the lead in 20 laps.Â I think that's probably a pretty good indicator of the strength of his car.Â I don't believe he passed anyone that was not good.Â We'll just leave it at that.
He passed Kyle, I think Denny, maybe Harvick.Â Newman.Â Those aren't slouches that he passed, and he passed them in 20 laps.Â I think that's a pretty good indicator of the strength of his effort.Â Whether that's car or driver, I'll let you all figure that out.Â That's a pretty good indicator he was the guy to beat all night.
I would probably give you nine out of ten, how about that?
Q.Â Brad, could you talk a little bit about the side skirts.Â Dale Jr. said he thought maybe the finish to your segment where you and Kasey were side‑by‑side, that might have contributed for the ability to run side‑by‑side.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I think it's a penny in a situation where you're looking for a dollar.Â Yeah, you like it.Â More would be better.
Q.Â Matt, were you aware of the issues your teammates had with their engines tonight?Â Were you concerned at all about it?
MATT KENSETH: Â I saw Carl pull in early.Â But I thought he was just trying to get to the booth earlier.Â I just wasn't sure.Â I'm just kidding (laughter).Â Couldn't resist.
Honestly.Â I don't know what happened to him.Â I seen him on the big screen pulling into the garage, but nobody informed me that he had an engine problem.
Greg I obviously saw.Â So I asked Jimmy if we were next.Â He said he hoped not.Â That was about all I knew about it.Â Not a lot you could do about it.
We did get to save a little bit, those segments three and four, and we ran a little cooler back there by ourselves.Â We were probably a little easier on it.
Q.Â Matt, knowing that the outside line struggled most of the night, was there any thought process on the last pit stop to letting Brad go in front of you?
MATT KENSETH:Â Yeah, there really was.Â I even talked about it a little bit.Â If would have been pitted on the other end of pit road, I could have managed that a little better.Â You look in a mirror, you slow up a little bit, two of them pass.Â It's hard to do that.
Another thing, it's pretty hard, even though you knew that outside was going to be a struggle, I was 90% sure what happened was going to happen no matter how I tried to manipulate it.Â It's still pretty hard to give up a front‑row start.Â What if Jimmie brakes or misses a shift or something, then, here I am behind him and I could have been outside of him, out there leading by myself.Â That's tough to give up that front‑row start.Â I difficult think of it, but...
KERRY THARP:Â Brad, Matt, thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports