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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: BUDWEISER DUEL #1


February 20, 2014


J.D. Gibbs

Matt Kenseth

Jason Ratcliff


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:テつ We're joined by our race winner of tonight's first Budweiser Duel race at Daytona.テつ That is Matt Kenseth.テつ He's joined by his crew chief Jason Ratcliff and race team president J.D. Gibbs.
Matt, congratulations on the win.テつ It was a heck of a finish there, three‑wide.テつ Maybe just talk about how you thought things unfolded and how you think things are shaping up for Sunday's running of the Daytona 500.
MATT KENSETH:テつ The race ended up unfolding great for us.テつ We learned a lot in the race.テつ I had the car in some positions that I wouldn't want to do again if I had to do it over.テつ I was able to make some moves, get up to second behind Junior there for a long time, ultimately take the lead.
Jason had a great call on a great pit stop.テつ I was able to hold the lead.
At the end, I saw Kevin making that move.テつ You weren't going to be able to block it without wrecking.テつ I just tried to get back to him and thankfully I had enough time to get that run to the finish line.
KERRY THARP:テつ Jason Ratcliff, talk about this No.20 racecar.テつ Picking up where you left off last year getting to Victory Lane a lot.
JASON RATCLIFF:テつ Yes, it's a great way to start the season.テつ This race is always good for several things.テつ One, for us, would be to have a fast car means we have a pretty good setup to work with for Sunday's event.
I was really excited about the way the pit crew performed tonight.テつ Getting on and off pit road, the gas man getting his job done.テつ We got so far out there, thankfully Michael was there and gave us a little boost until the pack caught us.テつ We got so far out there, I'm like, Man, I don't know what happened here.
It was a good night for us.テつ Everybody performed well.テつ The car ran well obviously.テつ TRD has done a great job this winter working on the horsepower and it showed.
Good night, and hopefully we can take this into Sunday's event.
KERRY THARP:テつ J.D. Gibbs, talk about this race team and the success they had here.テつ Certainly a good weekend so far for Joe Gibbs Racing.
J.D. GIBBS:テつ Yeah, it's a good start to the week.テつ It's been so long since we won the 500, I think it was '93, so we're due a few.テつ Hopefully we can get that accomplished.
We just have a great team.テつ Matt, Jason, the whole team just kind of gets it.テつ They're hard workers.テつ They're really fun to be with.
KERRY THARP:テつ Questions now.

Q.テつ Matt, you were saying in here earlier that nobody wanted to be around you.テつ You were kidding about practice.
MATT KENSETH:テつ I was only half kidding (laughter).

Q.テつ After winning, you said it almost felt bad to walk into the garage.テつ How redemptive was this win?テつ Did you feel like you needed to prove something here?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I don't know about prove anything.テつ Certainly whenever there's an incident and it's your fault or your mistake, you know, like what we had Saturday.テつ I feel bad about wrecking any car anyway.テつ I used to have to fix my own cars and pay for my own cars, so I hate wrecking cars, putting extra work on the crews, making J.D. pay for it.
Walking in the garage, honestly, like today, I was kind of embarrassed to walk in the garage.テつ They're probably not, maybe some of them are, but I feel like they're looking at you cross‑eyed when you're walking by.
Certainly it felt good.テつ The last few days haven't felt great.テつ I didn't feel like we had the speed.テつ I felt like I was getting on Jason's nerves whining about the car.テつ To get the car in the front today and keep it there, win that thing, certainly builds confidence in all of us, makes us feel like you can go out and get the job done if everybody does their jobs and we do everything right.
So, yeah, it definitely builds some confidence.

Q.テつ Are you the favorites now?テつ Denny won the race the other night, you win tonight.テつ Is Joe Gibbs the team to beat now?
J.D. GIBBS:テつ It's been a long time.テつ We've got some good cars, but it's just really hard to do.テつ Stuff outside your control has to fall together.
I hope we have a shot, but it's hard to do.

Q.テつ Matt, there's been a lot of talk about the cars not handling the same.テつ What do you find from the driver's seat?テつ Seem to be wobbling, loose?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Not so much that.テつ It just seems like for whatever reason this week, through the tri‑oval, it seems like cars have been getting different runs, bigger runs, especially inside cars like Saturday surprised me.テつ I didn't expect anybody to be there.テつ I looked back probably a second, second and a half before that, they were three‑quarters of a car length behind me.
Seems like the momentum is maybe happening at different spots of the racetrack.テつ You certainly got to pay more attention, 100% all the time, double‑check everything, make decisions quicker.テつ It seems like if you delay that decision, start thinking about it a little bit, by the time you make it, somebody is already there.
Seems like the runs are happening a little bit faster and they're happening in different spots than maybe they have, or at least it seems like, in years past.

Q.テつ Matt, I'm kind of surprised to hear you say you were embarrassed.テつ How much of a role do you think you played in those incidents?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, the one on Saturday I would say I was probably somewhere right around 100% because I drove right over the top of Joey.テつ The one yesterday in practice, I didn't think I really had anything to do with that.テつ I kind of got tagged and they all piled up behind me.テつ Still, I would rather have it be two rows behind me instead of that close.

Q.テつ Was it because you were in both, you felt people were looking at you cross‑eyed?
MATT KENSETH:テつ You want to do the best job, have the best reputation as possible, have people trust you on the track, want to be around you, draft with you, and feel like one of your cars is strong, and that you're going to make the right moves and get to the front.テつ Because if you can do that at these tracks, more times than not you'll get people that will want to help you.テつ It helps both of your efforts.
When you're out there, things aren't going good, maybe people aren't quite as eager to be around you or maybe try to push you or that type of thing.

Q.テつ Are you and Joey good?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, really good.テつ They were just both accidents.テつ Just hate 'em when they happen, you know.

Q.テつ Matt, I realize these are shorter races.テつ Does this give you any indication of what you have for the 500?テつ Does that wear on you guys, counting the years?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, I think there's things to be learned.テつ We ran a full fuel run under green, so we got a lot to look at there.テつ We ran more than a fuel run on tires, so we got stuff to look at there.
The biggest thing difference I think is track conditions.テつ Saturday and now with the Thursday race for the first time now being at night, depending on what the weather is like Sunday, if the sun is out, that kind of thing, the track could be fairly different.
I felt like the track was quite a bit different yesterday in our practice session than what it was tonight.テつ I'd say that's the biggest difference.
You might and might not.テつ You might see more practice than you might see after the 150s just because this race is at night instead of during the day.
J.D. GIBBS:テつ We won our second year in motorsports.テつ We figured, This is easy.テつ It's a lot harder than it looks.
We had great cars down here.テつ That's the only time we won the 500.テつ I was changing tires.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Were you better at that than driving?
J.D. GIBBS:テつ I was better at changing tires than driving.テつ That's not saying much (laughter).

Q.テつ Jason, obviously in qualifying the Toyotas didn't have the speed that the other cars did.テつ Everything is about going fast.テつ Did you end up sacrificing a little bit of speed to make the car a better‑handling car so it could get it done when it was time?
JASON RATCLIFF:テつ Boy, I wish I could say that.テつ No, we gave it everything we had in qualifying.テつ This is the one speedway race in the year, it's not an impound race, the rest of them are.テつ It gives you an opportunity to build some speed in the car, do some things differently for qualifying.
We gave it all we had.テつ Qualifying, it was tight.テつ On the stopwatch, it was pretty tight.テつ A 10th would have been a big gainer for us.テつ Knowing you have this event on Thursday, now we're going to line up close to the front, get a good pit stall, you know, doesn't really matter.

Q.テつ Matt, I understand every situation is different.テつ We've had two races now where essentially the guy leading on the last lap won the race.テつ We've heard a lot of talk about the side drafting.テつ Is being in the front where you need to be in the last three, four laps?テつ Is this a coincidence or a little bit more of a pattern?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I think you always want to be in the front.テつ I would always rather be in the front and defend my lead than be somewhere and be at the mercy of how good of a run you get or whatever.
He almost had me cleared.テつ I mean, he made a textbook move.テつ I was just able to get there quick enough to get enough of a run, you know, to the start/finish line.
I think there's a lot more opportunity for a last‑lap pass than there was with last year's rule package.テつ It's only a half inch on the spoiler, but I think it's made a difference.テつ I can't recall all four speedway race.テつ I'd be lying if I told you what the finishes were.テつ I don't recall.テつ I remember the 500 last year, and I got in the front and there wasn't anybody going to pass us, in my opinion.テつ I didn't think there was any way they were going to get a good enough run to pass us.テつ Same thing happened to Jimmie once he took over the lead.
I feel like there's a lot more opportunity for two‑lane racing at least and for some last‑lap passes.テつ You even saw that Saturday night.テつ There were only six or seven cars out there at the end.テつ They could still make passes.テつ Last year I don't think that would have happened.

Q.テつ Matt, you mentioned at the start putting yourself in some positions you might not want to do again.テつ Can you expound on them?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I'd always take the win and not learn anything, if I could.テつ But I think both are important.テつ Just different positions I was in on the track.テつ You know, a couple times, it would have always worked before, I couldn't make them happen tonight for some reason.テつ There were a couple others I was, I'm not sure about that.テつ I was able to make it happen.
It was a lot different than last February for some reason, which I still think we got a little bit of time to hopefully get our car a little bit better.テつ I feel like I learned a fair amount out there, as well.
Hopefully we'll have a shot at or at least be in the group and have a shot at the end on Sunday.
KERRY THARP:テつ Congratulations.テつ Best of luck the rest of the weekend here at Daytona.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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