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 Matt Kenseth Gives Ford Second Straight Daytona 500 Victory

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​DAYTONA, Fla. - Matt Kenseth gave Ford its second straight Daytona 500 victory and third in the last four years by winning the rain-delayed event early on Tuesday morning at Daytona International Speedway.

Ford Daytona 500 Race Winners (Owner):

1963 – Tiny Lund (Wood Brothers)
1965 – Fred Lorenzen (Holman-Moody)
1967 – Mario Andretti (Holman-Moody)
1969 – LeeRoy Yarbrough (Junior Johnson)
1978 – Bobby Allison (Bud Moore)
1985 – Bill Elliott (Harry Melling)
1987 – Bill Elliott (Harry Melling)
1992 – Davey Allison (Robert Yates)
1996 – Dale Jarrett (Robert Yates)
2000 – Dale Jarrett (Robert Yates)
2009 – Matt Kenseth (Jack Roush)
2011 – Trevor Bayne (Wood Brothers)
2012 – Matt Kenseth (Jack Roush)
MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion (Post Race Press Conference) – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THE 2012 DAYTONA 500? “It feels great. We even went overtime a little bit since we didn’t quite go the whole distance the first time we won it. We had a really fast car all day and overcame a lot of adversity and problems with the car that we figured out. We had a great pit stop at the end that put us into position. It feels great. I wasn’t expecting to win when I woke up this morning so it feels good to be sitting here.”
JIMMY FENNIG, crew chief No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion – CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ON THE HARD WORK OF GETTING THIS CAR PREPARED AND THE WIN. “Yeah, everybody at the shop worked hard all winter long. As you saw, all the Roush cars were fast all week long and I really appreciate it from those boys.”
JACK ROUSH, owner Roush Fenway Racing – HOW DOES THIS FEEL? “It feels great. It is very fitting that Matt won the 300th victory that we have had since we started in 1988 and Jimmy Fennig has been with us for most of the time and Matt has been here most of the time as well. It is great to celebrate our 300th win here with the 54th Daytona 500. This is Matt’s second 500 win and that makes it special as well.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – AT THE VERY END OF THE RACE IT SEEMED LIKE BIFFLE MIGHT TAKE A RUN AT YOU OR EARNHARDT, BUT IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CAR THAT WAS A LITTLE BETTER THAN THEIRS. IS THAT ACCURATE OR WAS IT JUST BETTER STRATEGY? “I think the 16 had one of the strongest cars all week and ours was right there as well. Our car for some reason was a lot faster out front than it was in traffic. It took a long time to get to the front but like Thursday once we were in the front it was hard for anyone to get locked on to you. My car was one of the faster cars and it was hard for the other cars to stay locked on to me. I learned a little on Thursday at the last couple laps there of what to do and what not to do and what this car liked. We had enough speed and once we took the white I felt sort of okay about it. By the time I got to three and saw they couldn’t get enough speed mustered up to try to make it move. The car had a lot of speed and Doug Yates and those guys deserve a lot of credit. They did a great job on the engine and it really restarted good and that was the key for all those restarts at the end.” 
PROFESSIONALLY YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT SINCE YOUR LAST DAYTONA 500 WIN. DOES THAT MAKE THIS MEAN MORE HAVING TO GO THROUGH THAT? “Yeah, last year was a great year for us and I think we went almost two years without a win or something like that. Last year was a really special year and I really, still to this moment, feel like I let these guys down in the Chase. I feel we ran good enough in the Chase performance wise and as far as what the team gave me to use and what Jimmy did and the pit crew did to race for a championship. We were able to win a few races along the way and in position to win a few more that we didn’t win. Last year was a great year for us. I think it built a lot of confidence and it really made me feel good and be happy. I was hoping to come into this season strong. You never expect to come down here and win but I didn’t expect to be as strong as we were down here. I am real anxious to get to the next few tracks and see how we are.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DID YOU EVER ANTICIPATE WITH ALL THE CHANGES IN THE OFFSEASON THAT YOU WOULD COME TO SPEED WEEKS AND HAVE THE SUCCESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING NOW? “The testing results over the winter were very encouraging. We brought better Ford Fusions here than we have ever had before with more power in the engine relatively speaking than we have had. Doug and the guys in the engine shop did, like Matt said, a really super job. I was more nervous about the durability of all the components that were unknown in the fuel injection than I was about whether we would be competitive. We had a fuel pressure problem we have to address in three of our cars tonight. Happily it wasn’t catastrophic and didn’t cause them to drop out. I was more worried about the unknowns than what I knew about what we were able to bring. The reduction from four teams to three was sad and we lost a lot of good people but we have got a lot of great people that remain on our programs and I was sure our three programs would be as strong as the three would have been in the other circumstance but we will look forward to finding the sponsorship to get the 6 car going again and hopefully get it on track before the end of the year.”

WITH TWO DAYTONA 500 WINS AND A CHAMPIONSHIP, WHERE DOES THAT PUT MATT KENSETH IN YOUR TEAMS HISTORY AND IN NASCAR HISTORY? “Matt and Greg Biffle, they kind of duke it out trying to figure out which one has been here the longest, who has the seniority and I don’t think they are in an argument over who is the oldest but for Matt to have the success or Greg to have had the success of bringing the 300th win would have been fitting but tonight Matt had the best car and Greg was unselfish and worked with him and they pulled it off together.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEATING GREG TO THE LINE AND HAVING HIS SUPPORT WHEN IT COUNTED HERE? ALSO HOW MUCH WAS YOUR PATIENCE TESTED OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK? “My patience was tested a lot. It is almost two o’clock in the morning. We have been here almost two weeks like a lot of you guys have as well. Greg, if he could have passed me on the last lap or with two laps to go he certainly would have. We had a pretty good plan on restarts to work together to help both of us get to first and second and get in line. Our cars were strong on the bottom when we got in line like that. It was a combination of working together and helping each other and it was best for both of us to get the best position we could get.”
CAN YOU COMPARE THIS DAYTONA 500 VICTORY WITH THE LAST ONE? WAS THERE MORE VINDICATION TO WIN THIS WAY AND PUT A STAMP ON IT? “Well, yes and no. The last one, a lot was written about it and it was rain shortened and all that but we all knew it was going to rain. We did a lot that day. We charged to the front and had one of the better cars and was able to make the pass right before it rained which was good timing but I felt like we had a fast car and didn’t luck into that. I thought we worked hard for that. It is nice to go the whole distance and survive a green-white-checkered because you don’t know what is going to happen on speedway races.”
IT SOUNDED LIKE GREG AND DALE WERE SHOCKED THEY COULDN’T GET TO YOU AT THE END. WHAT WAS THE SECRET? “If there was something do you think I would tell you? You know, our car was fast, even on the restarts when Junior tried to push me I tried to give him air and stay with him but he just couldn’t quite keep up and stay attached to us. We had to make other moves to keep my momentum up. I think when you come to plate racing a huge percentage of it is the car and how fast the car is. I think Thursday was really good for us because we learned something the last few laps that helped a little bit tonight.”
DO YOU FEEL CHEATED ABOUT DOING LESS MEDIA THIS WEEK? DO YOU CARE ABOUT THAT? “I don’t mind doing it, but, yeah, that doesn’t bother me too much (laughing). It’s a busy few days. I’m sure they’ve got a lot of things planned. The last time I had a great time, Katie and I had a great time, and got to do a lot of neat things and see a lot of cool places, so I don’t really have any idea what they have in store for me this week.” 
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRE ON THE BACKSTRETCH? “I honestly didn’t see what happened. I heard second-hand accounts of it, but I didn’t see what happened so these guys will have to answer that or what they were working on the track early.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “It was pretty amazing that Juan Pablo’s car broke just at the right time to create a trajectory that took him into the jet dryer. I still don’t know what happened to his engine. I saw the engine was missing when they loaded the car on the rollback. I thought it would roll out on the ground or it would be leaving after they moved the dryer, but I don’t know where it went. It was amazing that NASCAR was able to have enough Tide and to have enough oil dry and they had people trained and were really able to save the race track. I thought surely that the race track would be damaged and impacted to the point that it wouldn’t be suitable for continuing the race, but the NASCAR crew and the management did a great job of saving the race track and having a race for the fans. I was actually thinking that if they didn’t go back that rather than get involved in a wreck that I felt surely was gonna happen at the front that having Matt finish fifth wouldn’t have been too bad, but I’m glad they got it going.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAVE OF EMOTIONS YOU’VE GONE THROUGH THIS LAST MONTH AND HAVING IT CULMINATE IN THIS WIN? “It’s been kind of a tough winter, so it feels good to get back to the race track and be able to just get down here and race really and see the guys and get to run, but to be able to win the 150 and to win the 500 as well is certainly a lot more than I would have expected or really thought we were gonna do, so it’s always special to win races. It’s really hard to win these races and the older you get and the more you race you realize how hard it is and you really try to enjoy all those moments.”
IF THE TRACK HAD BEEN DAMAGED WOULD YOU HAVE FELT CHEATED BECAUSE YOU LED SO MANY LAPS? “Yeah. I mean, sitting there you for sure want to go back racing because we just came off pit road first after all those other guys were gonna have to pit and you want to go back racing, but yet Blaney was leading and we were gonna finish fifth. It could have been worse than that and, like Jack was saying, you go back to green and feel like you almost have as good a chance at getting in a wreck as you do having a shot at the win, so in hindsight, of course, I’m glad we went racing and did all that, but it could have been worse where we were. We were still in a pretty nice position.”
WAS THERE ANY TREPIDATION THE FIRST TIME YOU WENT OVER THE PATCHED AREA? “It was far enough back in the corner where it wasn’t too bad. The bottom was totally fine. The middle and I didn’t get up much higher than the middle, but when you drove through the middle you could hear gravel, so I was not wanting to be pushed real hard through that spot. But I was able to run the bottom almost the whole time and there was really no issue at all on the bottom, and it was a very narrow patch as well.”
DALE EARNHARDT HAD A BOAT CALLED ‘SUNDAY MONEY’. WILL YOU BUY A BOAT AND CALL IT ‘MONDAY MONEY?’ “I’m not a boat guy, so no, but that’s a good name.”
GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – PRESS CONFERENCE -- TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS PLAYED OUT FOR YOUR TEAM HERE THIS EVENING. “Well, obviously I wish we would have done a few things maybe a little bit different. We had a great speed weeks. Coming out of here with a third place finish is really exciting for us. More importantly, we didn’t wreck and we got a good finish. I still am a little blown away by the end of that race and that we weren’t able to push up to the back of the 17 car. I was kind of surprised by that. Next time maybe we will do something a little bit different.” 
THE CRAZINESS OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY, CAN YOU SUM THAT UP? “Well, the weather down here has been kind of unusual the entire time. One day it is 90 degrees and the next day it is high 50’s. It was up and down. You always expect a few rain showers but that was more than we have seen down here in a long time. It was unfortunate it got delayed but I think the race went pretty well and I hope that a lot of people got to see it.” 
WHY COULDN’T YOU GET TO KENSETH AT THE END? “That is a good question. Here is the thing, and I don’t know what it was, but all night Junior had been shoving me against the back of the 17 car at will. Granted, he had somebody pushing him, but we weren’t locked together. Any time you get locked together the things just go, they just take off like before when we had the tandem racing. Once he got against my bumper and I made sure he stayed against it around the corner, I was about three-quarters throttle and then once we got straight I pushed the gas down. I thought that we would drive up on the back of the 17 without a problem. It must have just pushed enough air out in front of my car that it pushed the 17 car out about five or six feet in front of me and I couldn’t get any closer. I thought I needed to get out from behind him because then we would get by him so on the back stretch I moved up a little bit but Matt is not stupid, we had no run at him. We were all going the same speed so when I moved over Matt moved over real easy and Junior is against my back bumper so I am trying not to wreck because he is shoving on me and I am doing this down the back thinking I am not going to be able to get a run at him. Probably the only thing that, at that point I could have done, and I didn’t know how much he had on him from behind or if the top lane was coming, but the only thing I could have done was got real straight down the back stretch and pushed the brake pedal down pretty and kept going straight and slow our cars down a fair enough and then let Junior make a run at Matt around three and four and we could have moved up beside him coming off the corner and then Junior and I would have had to dice it out to the line. That is probably what I should have done, just anchored down the brakes down the back stretch and put distance between Matt and I. I thought for sure that I didn’t need to do that, I thought he would shove me right up to his back bumper. Monday morning quarterbacking I didn’t think we needed to do that. He had been shoving me right up to his back bumper. He had all night and I had no doubt it would happen then.”  
HOW DID YOU MANAGE ALL THE DOWN TIME THE LAST FEW DAYS AND THEN IN THE RACE TODAY? “I have been cooped up in a motor home in the infield with my seven-and-a-half month old baby daughter. We have been cooped up for 13 days. I tell you what, the last two days sitting over there in the rain, I have had my fill. I was ready to race, you know? You get all that adrenaline and excitement and you just kind of sit around and I looked at the same walls regardless. We were down here for a long time and we were ready to get going home and get ready for the next race.” 
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing -- "All of us at Ford want to congratulate Jack and his team at Roush Fenway Racing for their 300th NASCAR victory, and for it to come in the Daytona 500 is fantastic.   We're proud that no matter where each of those 300 victories has occurred - the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, or Sprint Cup Series - it has always been in a Ford car or truck.    Jack is true-blue, and always has been, and we couldn't be prouder to be associated with him and his race team.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion – LET’S START WITH THAT FINISH AND WHAT YOU DID TO HOLD THEM OFF. “I have to give a lot of credit to Doug Yates and the guys at the engine shop. We had great horsepower. I could get a pretty good start on the bottom and either Denny or Dale Jr. could push me for awhile and then they just couldn’t stay attached and I would get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed. I have to thank Greg. We worked together really good all day long. He had a really fast car all day as well.” 
TALK US THROUGH THE PROBLEMS YOU HAD EARLIER IN THE RACE. “We had a lot of problems and almost ended up a lap down. I had my radio break and my tach break and we pushed all the water out and had to come in and put water in it. These guys did a great job. They never panicked and I think they enjoyed their day more because they couldn’t hear me on the radio with my radio problems. My guys did a great job. I have to thank this whole Best Buy team. It was pretty cool to with the 150’s and I never dreamed we would be standing here tonight.” 
WHAT WERE THE RADIO COMMUNICATIONS LIKE THAT YOU DID HAVE WITH JIMMY FENNIG? “We didn’t really get to talk a lot honestly because my radio went out. My spotter always talks a lot and he talked even more because he knew I couldn’t tell him to be quiet. Jimmy just gave me the information and he has been doing this forever. I am proud to be standing here with him. He has done a great job with this race team and gives us fast race cars.” 
YOU WORE THE FIELD OUT TONIGHT AND TOOK IT TO THEM AT THE END. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? “It feels good. We had a really fast car and have fast cars in the past and I figured out a way to mess it up. I am thankful everything worked out on the restarts and I am glad it all worked out.”
JAMIE ALLISON, Director of Ford Racing – “To have a repeat victory is unbelievable. What a great job. It was a long day and long night. We were prepared and had fast cars. It feels just as good as it did last time. This is a testament to the hard work in the off season with regard to fuel injection and new team dynamics. What a proud accomplishment for all the Ford teams, especially Roush Fenway and Matt and everyone on the 17 team. All the Ford teams are to be commended, the 99, the 6, the 16, and all of the Ford teams, they all were fantastic tonight.
JACK ROUSH, Owner, Roush Fenway Racing – “This is a special night. Matt is a real champion and he is really good at these restrictor tracks. Our Fords, the guys did a nice job and Ford Motor Company gave us a lot of support over the winter. We certainly had several ways to win it tonight and there are always ample ways to lose as well. Matt did a great job tonight.”
1st – Matt Kenseth
3rd – Greg Biffle
8th – Carl Edwards
13th – Marcos Ambrose
18th – Terry Labonte
19th – Tony Raines
20th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23rd – David Gilliland
25th – Casey Mears
30th – Michael McDowell
33rd – Aric Almirola
35th – Trevor Bayne
43rd – David Ragan
DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Scorpion Liners Ford Fusion – WHAT HAPPENED? “It is disappointing. I was just trying to see the monitor to see who I can be mad at. It is ridiculous to sit around this long for the Daytona 500 and on the very first lap for someone to be driving as reckless as whoever caused that, someone had to cause it. It is just a shame for it to be that early in the biggest race, the first race of the year. We just got caught up in it. We were content on riding in the beginning and minding our P’s and Q’s. They started wrecking in front of us and we just couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. It is very disappointing for our Front Row Motorsports team. We will have to pick up and move on. I can’t wait to see who was the bonehead that did that.”
TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – “I have no idea what happened. You spend a couple days waiting in the rain and something happen on lap one, so what do you do? I tried to get as low as I could. I couldn’t see what was going on. I got low and got slowed down and at the last second I think it was the 34 car that hit us in the right side door and put us into the grass. The only thing we really touched was the grass, but I guess it’s so wet that it tore up the front of the car. Man, this is tough. The guys worked so hard for this race. We were looking forward to it. I hate that we’re sitting here in the garage, but they’re trying their best to get back out here. We’re doing everything we can. I thought it would be minor damage and we could get out there faster, but it looks like we’ll be in the garage for awhile.”
WHAT HAPPENED? “I’m not sure what happened or why they got so antsy. It just stinks to sit around to wait for that long. I just told my guys on the radio that we were sitting in a good spot and as soon as I let off the button they started wrecking in front of me. I got out of the way the best that I could, but we still got in it. I hate this for my Ford Racing team, but we’ll be back. We’re gonna try to get back out there.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – WHAT ABOUT THE RESTARTS WITH MATT? “It was just by chance that I got a good push from the 29. I got pushed from the 88 and the 11, but the 17 would move up in front of me because he saw my head of steam coming. Maybe I wish I would have tried to get by him then earlier, but I thought it would be coming down to the end and we would both be pushing for the win. I wanted to be locked on the 17’s bumper, kind of like the 88 passed me coming to the line. That’s what I wanted to try and do to the 17, but I couldn’t get to him. He had a really good car, but I’m just so happy for this team to start out the season like this.”
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion – “I’m just really glad Matt ended up in Victory Lane. That’s huge for Roush Fenway, for Ford, for Best Buy. That’s as big as it gets, and it ended up OK for us, too, for everything that we went through with the penalities and tearing the nose off of it. To finish eighth is huge.”
THIS IS KIND OF LIKE LAST YEAR AS FAR AS HANGING AROUND. “I think after that caution we were ready to go hard and then we had that penalty and we had to go back. That kind of screwed up our strategy, but that’s OK. You can never say shoulda, woulda because we very well could be wrecked, so I’m happy as far as heading in the right direction.”
MATT HAS GONE THROUGH A LOT. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR HIM? “This is perfect for Matt. This is what he deserves. He’s a hard core racer and he’s a good man. I’m really happy for him and his whole family. I’ve learned a lot about Matt Kenseth the last four or five years and he’s a really, really good guy.”
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE TEAR OFF? “I asked PK (Pierre Kuettel, car chief) if we could pull the tear off and he said yes, and as soon as he pulled it the NASCAR official started saying a lot of things. It wasn’t good, but our Fastenal Fusion was fast and tonight is about Best Buy, Matt Kenseth, that whole crew, Ford, Roush Fenway. I’m so happy Matt got to Victory Lane. We got back up to eighth with a little bit of a torn-up car, but this is huge for Ford. It’s a great start and it couldn’t happen to a better guy. Matt Kenseth deserves this win.”
CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “Something with the new fuel injection pump system went wrong. We don’t know enough about it to really understand exactly what happened, but we were sitting in great position. I actually talked to Matt about just pushing him the rest of the way and clearly that’s what the 88 ended up doing and they finished up just fine, so we were sitting in a perfect position. All those guys that stayed out before that big fire happened on the backstretch, we were really sitting third with the 17. This is more heartbreaking than almost missing the show like last year because we had such a good race car. We were in very good position and missed everything leading up to that point and was able to go racing at the end, but, for whatever reason, there was an issue with the fuel pick-up.”
ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion – “That’s just a shame. Our Smithfield Ford was really fast. I’m not sure. Jamie said something locked up in his car like the 42 car and he came across the race track. I was actually, believe it or not, working my way toward the back to just kind of hang out and it all bottled up right there. I knew that was coming at some point and, sure enough, it did.” WHAT HAPPENED? “I wasn’t really sure. I know they all kind of started wrecking and came across the race track and I was in the outside line and there was nowhere to go. All in all, it was a good day. It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the Daytona 500 by any means, but our Smithfield Ford was really fast. Greg Erwin and all the guys on this 43 team did a great job, so we should be proud that we had a fast car, just disappointed with the result.” WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE FIRE? “It was amazing. We have never seen anything like that. It’s a shame that it took two hours away from the race and made these fans wait that much longer to see the end of the Daytona 500, but I guess sometimes you’ll have that.” A BIZARRE 500. “Yeah, I think we’re all ready to go home. I wish I could celebrate tonight in Victory Lane with all the Smithfield people and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports, but that’s not gonna happen. I’m ready to go home. We’ve been here a long time.”




2/28/2012 7:00 AM