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Matt Kenseth Wins the Daytona 500


MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 1st) – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEWS: “It’s gonna be really wet out here because I’m crying like a baby, but I’ve just got to thank my team and thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity first of all. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities in my life – from my family getting me in racing and really DeWalt, Ford, Carhartt, USG Sheetrock, R&L Carriers, all the sponsors that we have that have stuck by us and made this happen in an up and down economy. Man, I don’t know. Winning the Daytona 500 is definitely a dream moment. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

WHAT DOES THIS WIN MEAN TO YOU? “After last year, winning a race means a lot to me. I’m really proud of these guys. It’s Drew’s first race as a Cup crew chief, that’s pretty cool, and Chip for sticking in here with us and really going through the deal and trying to make the team stronger – putting egos aside and making the team as strong as we can – and these guys have been fired up and working hard. It’s just unbelievable.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU WENT TO BED LAST NIGHT? “You just never know what’s gonna happen. We’ve had some really fast cars on the speedways in the past and I’ve just never been able to figure out how to do the right thing and today we were able to make the right moves. We got some weather, but yet we did race 400-and-some miles and we were able to pull it off. I was pretty miserable some nights because we just couldn’t make our car handle and this backup car is actually way better than the 500 car. I felt pretty good going into this morning, but I didn’t dream we were gonna win.”

YOU ARE A DAYTONA 500 WINNER. “That’s unbelievable. I’ve just really got to thank my team first of all for all the work they did this week. I put them in a hole wrecking on Thursday and they did just a tremendous job and had a great pit stop when we really needed it. I mean, that was a killer pit stop and it gave us the track position to be in position to win this thing.”

YOU SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF EMOTION. “Yeah. Just to win a race after our year last year. I didn’t know if I was ever gonna do that again and then to pull off the Daytona 500, it’s just unbelievable. I’m just unbelievably thankful and humbled right now for all the opportunities I’ve had, really.”

WHAT ABOUT THE PASS FOR THE LEAD? “I was a little nervous because it was Elliott and then Reed and Allmendinger and all the teammates lined up there and I was able to get outside Elliott a little bit, and our car was honestly a fair amount quicker than his and I was able to get a run on him and get by him.”

WERE YOU RACING HARDER BECAUSE YOU KNEW THE RAIN WAS COMING? “Man, we raced hard all day. Thanks to all the fans that came out to watch us. It’s a great pleasure to race in front of the greatest race fans in the world. We just raced hard the whole time. You knew it was down to crunch time, but to be honest with you, you’re almost a little more careful with your moves with the rain coming, so I didn’t want to make the wrong move and get hung out and finish in the back, either. So I felt like I had a good enough run there and Dale Jr. and Ryan Newman and a couple of those lapped cars were real fast when they were on the bottom, so I felt pretty good about getting down in front of them.”

BRIAN WOLFE, Director, Ford North America Motorsports – THIS IS YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WIN. “It’s awesome. Just to be here in the first race to be in position for a victory, that’s just incredible. It was great preparation by the teams to be ready and having the cars in the prime position, and then a little bit of Lady Luck on our side and it all came home. I couldn’t be happier for everybody.”

THIS IS ALSO THE FIRST DAYTONA 500 WIN FOR MATT KENSETH AND JACK ROUSH. “Exactly. This is always a tough race just because of the venue itself. But, again, it just goes to show you Jack’s tenacity to be ready. And Matt, he’s an awesome driver, and he waited for the right opportunity to take the lead and as luck would have it, Mother Nature was on our side a little bit, too.


DREW BLICKENSDERFER, Crew Chief – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s pretty surreal to have the chance of being associated with a team like the 17. When I worked at Roush Fenway before on the Cup side, you kind of looked over at them as the model team in the series. They were just about to win the championship, so that was a team you wanted to be involved with, and then getting to work with Matt on the Nationwide side, and then be able to come back to him and lead the team is pretty amazing.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FINISHED LAST YEAR AND WINNING THIS RACE? “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it. You get swept up into this windstorm of going to a different shop, even though I’m at Roush Fenway still and doing the COT thing has kind of consumed me since the season ended at Homestead, so I haven’t thought about that too much. I’m very fortunate, obviously, to be at Roush Fenway and have two drivers like Carl Edwards and now Matt Kenseth. I know I’m blessed with that, so I’m thinking about that, but the success last year is kind of over with, especially since we only finished second in the points and it’s on to this year.”

DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CHANCE YESTERDAY AFTER PRACTICE? “I really did. I think the two runs we made in practice yesterday, I know we put more laps on our car than anybody else. It was fast. He made comments afterwards that it was as fast as certain cars that are your benchmark when you’re at a plate race, so I thought if we ended up in the right line at the right time and everything goes well, this car is capable of winning. I know he is. The pit crew is, so I really thought we had a chance. If you would have seen me the previous 10 days, it wouldn’t have been that smile. It was a rough week-and-a-half leading up to yesterday when we got this backup out and we got to put laps on it.”

ANY THOUGHTS TO RETIRING? “That’s what I told them out there. I said, ‘It can only go downhill from here.’ I was fortunate enough when I went with Carl last year we won our first race at Milwaukee – first race out – and I knew the next week at New Hampshire it was gonna be downhill. So I’m thinking if we don’t win the first practice at California, it’s a failure. But seriously, Matt and I have similar personalities where you’re a perfectionist. I thought yesterday our car was good, but not great. It can always get better. I thought today our car was good, but not great. So I am looking forward to California, actually, now that you say that.”

YOU KNEW RAIN WAS COMING. DID YOU HAVE TO CALM HIM DOWN? “I think he realized – he got a little excited himself. As soon as we took the lead from nowhere I heard a Matt Kenseth kind of scream that said, ‘Rain, rain, rain, rain.’ It’s very uncharacteristic of him, so then when the caution came out he said, ‘What’s it look like? How is the radar?’ I said, ‘It’s here. It’s gonna be here. It’s gonna rain for a couple of hours. We’re gonna be OK.’ And he said, ‘Let’s just stay calm here.’ And I think that was him catching himself thinking, ‘OK, this could be a good thing here.’ But he’s so calm and cool and kind of ice cold that you usually don’t have to say anything to Matt to calm him down.”

DID YOU LOSE THE PRIMARY IN THE 150? “Yeah. We lost a car in the Bud Shootout and then we lost another car in the 150. Our car in the 150 actually seemed to have really good speed. It might have been a blessing in disguise. It didn’t seem to handle too good in the 150 or in practice before that, but, yes, we lost a car Thursday.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “I’m just pleased to be here with Chip Bolin and with Drew. I don’t know if Drew deserves this (joking). I had to wait over 20 years and this is Drew’s first race as a crew chief. Chris Andrews gave us a great engineering package behind the cars. Robbie Reiser, of course, managed everything in the shop and managed Drew and sometimes managed me to my dismay, so there are a lot of good people that formed the organization that helped make this possible. Of course, Matt is at the center of it. Matt Kenseth is as good at this business as anybody has been and on days when he can’t do what he needs to it’s because I haven’t given him the tools. Last year I let him down by not being able to do for him what I needed to. Matt should have won last year. We made some changes. We’re a promote-from-within company and we moved Robbie Reiser off his program and we didn’t manage to get the organization of his team exactly right, and you only have to be off a little bit in this business. If you’re off just a hair, you just can’t quite get it done and that was the year we had with Matt last year. Matt did everything he needed to do, but we just didn’t quite get it right for him. But over the winter Drew came on board and Chip stepped into the role of being the senior engineer for not only this team but for the entire group as far as team engineers are concerned and, boy, they got the magic back. They had the speed in the car. They had depth in the organization. We took one of the cars that had some damage and I thought we might see it again. I need to count my fingers after I shake hands with these guys after a meeting because generally there’s an extra car or some extra piece of hardware attached to one of them that I wind up losing track of, but, anyway, we had a lot of depth. We had great cars. The Ford Fusion did a super job and Matt deserved to win. Like I said, it was my fault that he didn’t win last year, but he’s gonna win a lot this year and a championship, I hope.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “Thanks, first of all. To be honest, it really hasn’t sunk in. I woke up this morning not really thinking I was gonna win the Daytona 500, especially when you come to a speedway. It’s really more about the team than it is about the driver. It’s always about the team, but, really, they make the cars go fast and I wasn’t happy with my 500 car and it ended up getting wrecked in the 150s anyway, and as soon as we unloaded this car it drove much, much better. I kept complaining about it and they kept adjusting on it all night and did the right stuff at the end, so it was pretty unbelievable to sit here and be able to actually be in the Daytona 500, much less win one. It’s just a dream come true.”

DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE RAIN TIRES AND WIPERS NEXT YEAR? “That’s pretty funny. There have been a couple of occasions where we’ve had maybe not the best car but close to the best car at a few races that got shortened by rain that we didn’t win, and we certainly lost some on fuel mileage. I don’t think we’ve ever won one on fuel mileage as far as the 17 goes, so I’ll take it. I’m not gonna think any less of the victory. A lot of these races get won and lost like this. We still raced 400 miles almost and we were in the right place at the right time and we had our car as fast as we needed to be. It was really a team effort. Without that last really good pit stop, we would have been in the wreck. Actually, Kyle was right in front of me and got in the wreck and Carl was right behind me and got in the wreck, so if the pit stop was faster or slower, we would have got in the wreck, so they did their job and got us up there when we needed the track position and after that wreck, I felt we were the fastest car up in the lead group.”

YOU WERE EMOTIONAL. “I actually am a pretty emotional guy, you guys just don’t always see it. It’s kind of funny. Yesterday I was sitting in the motorhome telling Katie, and it wasn’t like a feel sorry for myself or pity party or anything like that, but I was just telling her, it was like, ‘Man, I’m really getting fed up with not winning and with not being a contender.’ It was actually starting to weigh on me more than I thought and we really struggled all week until yesterday. We finally got the car to handle good and it’s not like I had a bad feeling about today, but we haven’t been a serious contender for the championship for a few years. We’ve been able to win a race here or there, but we didn’t win any last year and just to be able to put it together and actually win the Daytona 500. I don’t feel like I’m the best, really, at plate racing and I feel like a lot of times I make mistakes, which is really frustrating. I don’t get my car in the right place at the right time and to be able to put it all together and win the race is pretty overwhelming.”

YOU STAYED IN THE CAR ON PIT ROAD. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? “That’s how I am. I hang out in my car with a cover over it. I sit in the back pew at church. It’s just me. Seriously, I just wanted to wait until it was either over or we were gonna go race again. I was just waiting for that. I didn’t want to let my emotions get too high one way or the other and I just kind of wanted to wait until it was over and go from there. I was just hoping it would keep raining.”

DID YOU HAVE AN IDEA THAT COULD BE THE PASS FOR THE WIN? WHEN KEVIN HARVICK PUSHED YOU PAST ELLIOTT SADLER, WITH WORD OF RAIN COMING, DID YOU HAVE AN IDEA RIGHT THEN THAT THAT COULD BE THE PASS FOR THE WIN? “Yeah, I mean, I really had it in my mind that that last restart when we were behind Elliott that if I got around him and could hold it a little bit – I didn’t think we were going to pit again. I thought the ran was coming, Drew said it was coming, you could see the sky getting darker and it was sprinkling for a while – actually when I got around Elliott and I was able to get in a position where he couldn’t block it, and he just kind of stayed in his lane and I got pretty good momentum and Kevin saw that I had momentum and hung a left and went behind, and when I cleared him there actually was big rain drops all the way through one and two and I knew that it was getting pretty close. Then they had that accident where they threw the yellow, so you didn’t know if it was going to be the pass, but I knew it had the potential to be.”

YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND YOU WON A CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THERE A COMPARISON? “Winning a championship, I think, is probably the biggest accomplishment you can have in this sport. It’s a long season, nine months, 36 races, on all kinds of different sizes and shapes of race tracks, and you’ve got to race and think about it and work at it for a long, long time, where this is one race, but yet this is the biggest stock-car race we have anywhere, and to be able to win this race and put our names in history as Daytona 500 winners is also pretty awesome.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “I tend to get all tore up for the bad things that happen – you know, Jamie McMurray got caught in one of the early wrecks and had a great car, Carl Edwards got caught in a wreck and damaged his car. So I was really agonizing over those missed opportunities rather than starting to count my chickens for the fact that Matt was in the catbird seat and had a chance to do it. I hadn’t done the math, I knew that NASCAR was willing to keep this thing going until midnight. I hadn’t thought about that fact that it was going to take three hours, as I was told later, to get the track dry from where it was. You look at three hours to get it dry and you’ve got three hours of predictable rain coming, and it’s seven o’clock, the math really tells you that you’re finished. So, I was not focused on that. I was thinking that if it did get started, Matt would have to hang on and that was going to be a challenge that David would be coming, he had a good car, David Ragan would be coming, had a good car. So I was thinking about what if it came back and helping myself to try to get ready emotionally for what that was going to mean more than I was to really anticipate the rain-shortened race at something like 7 p.m. when they finally called. We’ve been here for more than 20 years, trying to do this thing, and I got so conditioned for being frustrated through it that I was almost not believing that it happened. I’ll be black and blue for the next few days just from pinching myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming.”

IT TOOK YOU LONG A TIME TO WIN THE FIRST FEW CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS, AND A WHILE FOR THIS WIN. WHEN DOES IT SET IN? ARE YOU ABLE TO APPRECIATE IT NOW? AT THE END OF THE SEASON? “I’ve never been through an enshrinement, they’re going to enshrine the car, I guess, tomorrow morning or later tonight or something, and when all the team gets around the car and we incarcerate the car for a year over at the museum, I’m sure that will set in at that time. It’ll be a big deal. We’ve had other cars in there. We had Paul Newman’s Nobody’s Fool Mustang, which was the 10th 24-hour race we won here. It’s not in there now, but it was in there for a period of time. That really kind of put an exclamation mark at the end of our road racing. We were able to celebrate that victory with Paul and to have the car under glass for a period. So, to have this DeWalt Ford Fusion in Daytona USA for a year is going to be a big deal. Plus, we’ve got to put it behind us because we’ve got some unfinished business on the west coast that we’ve got to deal with the next couple of weeks.”

MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – DID YOU EVER DREAM OF WINNING THE 500 AS A KID? “No, not back then. My uncles raced and my cousin raced and my dad started racing a little bit later in life when I was 13, I guess, or something like that, and I always enjoyed it and everything, but yet when you grow up in Wisconsin, Daytona seems like a long, long, long ways away. All of the races weren’t really televised back then. I used to watch Daytona all the time and watch what was then the Busch Clash and watch the Daytona when there was usually still snow up there. I remember watching that and it seemed a long ways away, and I was always fascinated with cars and engines and speed and competition and all that, but really didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to do this for a living. Until about an hour ago, I really never thought I’d win the Daytona 500, either.”

A LOT WAS MADE ABOUT YOU, HARVICK AND GORDON NOT WINNING LAST YEAR. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE CHAMPIONS WINNING AND COMING BACK? “That’s pretty cool. I hope it keeps happening. I thought about us not winning and that was disappointing, but it’s really hard. It’s really competitive and everything’s got to go right to be able to win these races. You get people like Carl that win nine and as many as I don’t know how many Kyle won and Jimmie, but when you get those guys that won over half the races between those three, it’s really hard. Everything’s got to go right. You’ve just got to have everything line up for you. It’s pretty cool to be able to win this race, but it doesn’t make or break your season always. We know there’s a lot of work to do coming up, so we’re really gonna enjoy it this week, but yet I think we’re already also looking ahead to California and Vegas and Atlanta – the tracks we know we’ve got to perform at all year to be a serious contender.”

HOW HARD WAS IT FOR YOU WITH THE RAIN COMING TO MAKE THE CALLS? “For me, it’s different than any other race, except for Talladega, because if you’re at Pocono or wherever, if you’ve got the fastest car, you’re just gonna go ahead and pass that car in front of you, where here, with the way the draft works and all that, you really had to think about making sure you were doing the right thing. There were a few times tonight where I didn’t do the right thing and everybody stacked up another line and took the momentum and shuffled you back 10 spots, so the last thing I wanted to do was be running second and go for the lead and make the wrong move and not have the proper momentum and not have anybody go with you and finish 10th or something like that. It was something to think about a little bit. I knew I wanted to get the lead, but I knew when I made the move I needed to make sure I had enough momentum where I was gonna get all the way to the lead.”

DREW BLICKENSDERFER CONTINUED – “Our decision was fairly easy. We were put in a place where we felt like we were fast up there. We hadn’t even gone a third of our fuel run yet. The fortunate thing I have is Chip Bolin has sat on the box for the 17 for probably close to 300 Cup races. He’s been through all of it with Robbie and he did it himself last year, so we’re bouncing ideas off each other the whole time and talking about ‘what if’ things, so it was fairly easy. I think the way this track is, if we were gonna come get tires, we were gonna wait until we could make it on fuel anyway the way everything played out, so it wasn’t a very tough decision whether to come or to stay.”

MATT KENSETH CONTINUED – YOU ARE A BLUE-COLLAR DRIVER. DOES THAT FEEL GOOD CONSIDERING WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY? “I think everybody is kind of tired of watching the grim news that there’s been pretty much all winter. If you’re a sports fan – whether it’s football or racing or whatever it is – when that starts it kind of gives you something else to think about and something else to do. It’s easy to take stuff for granted when everything is going good all the time, but I thought it was a great race today. The stands were really, really full. I know everybody has been trying to help out to make it not just a more enjoyable experience for the fans and better racing and all that kind of stuff, but to also make it more affordable. It feels really good to get the win and I’m glad we started the season off on a high note like that.”

YOU WAITED FOR 17 MINUTES IN YOUR CAR FOR YOUR 17TH WIN ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF DARRELL WALTRIP’S WIN IN THE 17? “I’m glad all the numbers lined up for us. I don’t know if I believe in all that, but I’m glad they all lined up. It makes a good storyline and Drew is known for being the luckiest guy around, so I’m happy to have him on the box, too.”

ELLIOTT SADLER WAS KIND OF KICKING HIMSELF. DO YOU HAVE SOME PAIN FOR HIM AND WHERE WERE YOU IN THE BIG WRECK? “In the wreck, I don’t know. The 18 got wiped out. I nosed into somebody a little bit, but I actually thought it would have bent the splitter or done something, but it didn’t really do any damage, so we were probably more lucky there than anything to be honest with you. We just kind of shot straight through it. The seas kind of parted and we came out. I’ve had that feeling a lot of times, where we’ve had fast cars and I haven’t maybe done the right thing and finished. And then there are other times where your car is just not as fast to make the right moves. I haven’t had the pleasure of saying a lot of times, but I don’t think it’s so much that Elliott didn’t make any right moves, it’s just our car was faster, I thought. We were able to get a pretty big run on him even without a lot of help and get underneath him. Those cars seemed like they all handled good all night, but they didn’t have quite as much speed and for a short run like that on new tires, I felt as good as you can feel about trying to make a pass at a plate race.”

IS IT THE NATURE OF PLATE RACING WHERE THINGS YOU DO TO HELP SOMEONE EVENTUALLY COMES BACK TO YOU DOWN THE ROAD? “You always hope so and there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The year that Kevin won it, we were I think eighth, ninth and tenth – Kevin and I and Burton – and we just lined up and started going with three or four to go. We didn’t have anything to lose. You always try to make the right decisions and not hang somebody out that’s been working with you. You try to help people or your teammates and do all that stuff the best you can, but at the end of the day you try to help people when you can help them and it doesn’t hurt your effort. And you want to do what’s gonna be best for your car. We had a big run and he could have went with Elliott, but we were probably both gonna clear Elliott and probably had the faster car, so I was glad it was Kevin. I remember when I gave him that huge shove on the backstretch and he was able to win the 500 and I actually pushed Dale Jarrett by Tony for his last win ever at Talladega, so I’ve been the pusher a few times and have been able to help a little bit, but I’ve never been lucky enough to have the shoe on the other foot and it really felt good tonight to be in that position and for him to pull behind me and push me by him.”

DO YOU MISS YOUR DAD WITH HIM NOT BEING ABLE TO BE A PART OF IT? “I haven’t had a chance to talk to anybody yet, but, yeah, I wish my dad was here and I wish my son, Ross, was here and my sister. You always wish your buddies and your family and your friends are there when you have a big moment to share it with them. My dad never dreamed it would come to anything like this, either. We started it for something constructive for a father and son to do to keep me out of trouble and to find something that we hopefully would enjoy and be able to spend quality time together. That’s really why we did it. We did it for fun. We didn’t have a lot of money to build real fancy race cars and stuff. We just started racing Sportsman cars for the fun of it and from there I just kept getting very, very fortunate to meet the right people to get me a chance to drive their stuff that we could afford to build.”

HOW WILL THIS PLAY BACK IN CAMBRIDGE, WISCONSIN, AND WHAT DID ALAN KULWICKI, ALSO FROM WISCONSIN, MEAN TO YOU? “Everything has been pretty quiet in the offseason, it’s been pretty quiet in Cambridge, like everywhere else, so I hope everybody’s fired up back there and celebrating and having a good time. I never really knew Alan, I never really got to meet Alan. Obviously what he did was pretty spectacular. I don’t know in this day and age if anybody could do that, but to be able to come down and do it the way he wanted to do it and win the championship was pretty cool when you knew that was the first Wisconsin guy, from the north, to come down and win a NASCAR championship, so that was pretty big for the state and something that I paid attention to.”

WHEN YOU SURVIVED THAT WRECK AND THE 18 DIDN’T. WHEN YOU REALIZED THE 18 WAS OUT, DID YOU THINK IT COULD BE YOUR DAY? “You knew your chances were better. Whenever there’s a wreck and you’re not in it, your odds are a little bit better of winning. Really, that’s what it is at a plate race, that’s the way I look at it. If you’re at Michigan or something and you’re running second all day to him, and he wrecks or blows up or something happens, then all of a sudden you kind of get a spring in your step – ‘Man, we’ve been second-best to him all day and he’s out, we’re going to have a shot.’ But at plate races it’s not really like that because if you don’t get in the right line or everybody lines up somewhere else or what have you, even if you have the right car, if you don’t end up making the right move or people won’t make it withyou, you still won’t win, cso certainly I felt like our chances improved a little bit, but not as much as if we would’ve been at a standard race track.”

WILD CELEBRATION TONIGHT IN THE R.V. LOT? “I’m going to paint it plaid, just like you said. I’m going to New York tomorrow night and paint the town plaid. Wasn’t that your quote?”

YOU’VE GOT A LONG MEMORY. “Like an elephant. I don’t know, I was just hearing about the schedule and it sounds like a pretty busy week, so I don’t know if there will be a lot of celebrating this week. Probably most of it was in Victory Lane an hour or so ago. I’m looking forward to the week. It’s not always my favorite thing to do but I’m looking forward to people calling the Daytona 500 champion. So, it’s pretty awesome. I’m going to enjoy it the best I can and I’ll find some time to celebrate when they find some time on our schedule for it.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE CHANGES ON YOUR TEAM? “Mike Calinoff came back to spot – he was pretty much the original spotter with the 17 team and I have a certain comfort level with him doing that. And Drew came over, he was doing the Nationwide deal the last couple of years and he was doing Carl’s deal last year. So, obviously we had a crew chief change. And, Chip stayed doing what he was doing, doing all the car stuff, just didn’t have to do all the crew chief duties to go along with it. For me, I’ve been very, very optimistic the last couple of months. I’ve been really fired up for the season to start, moreso for quite a while, for the last few years. I feel really good about it. I feel really good about our group. I feel good about our equipment. Carl and Greg won all those races last year and we know the cars are faster enough and the motors are good enough – we’ve just got to figure out to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.”

YOU STARTED 39TH. BY LAP 30 YOU WERE IN THE TOP 10 AND BY LAP 40 YOU WERE THIRD. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AT THAT TIME? “Starting in the back, unless there’s a wreck, is not that big of a disadvantage at a plate race, the way the draft works and all that stuff. Actually, I hate to say it helped us, but we did get to work on the car a lot more. We were in a lot of dirty air, we were in traffic a lot, we did two pit stops by lap 25. So we got to put some tires on, look at some tires, we got to be in different situations, three-wide, bottom, middle top, and knew what the car was handling like. It probably helped us with our adjustments a little bit. If we started in the front and were just running around the bottom, leading, or something like that, we might not have known what we needed to adjust, so that helped us keep up with the adjustments a little bit better.”


DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (finished 6th) – “I’d like to see it go back green. It’s a perfect situation. I wish the rain would have never come because I think we’ve got a car that can win the race and it’s just about being in the right position. With just a handful of laps to go, I’m sure we would come back in and take some tires and probably be good to the finish, but it is what it is. We could sit here and guess all night long and it’s not in our hands.”

HOW HAS YOUR RACE GONE? “We’ve worked on our UPS Ford every pit stop trying to make it better. It would have been nice to lead a lap early in the race when we were up front, but the race has been pretty uneventful for us, which is a good thing. We’ve been able to pass when we needed to. We’ve dropped back a few times, just trying to get the car handling like I need it, but I feel like we’ve got a car that’s as good as it’s been all race and we just need some more green flag racing. Certainly a top 10 isn’t a bad day, but you only get one chance a year to win the Daytona 500, so it would be nice to go back racing.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (finished 18th) – “My car was good. I damaged the front splitter and it’s a little hard to get it right. It’s a little loose right now, but I think if we can get it running again, we’re gonna pick up a bunch of spots. I’d almost rather it just rain and have Matt win this thing than try to go pick up a few spots. I want to see a Ford in Victory Lane.”

WERE YOU LUCKY TO GET THROUGH THAT BIG WRECK? “Oh yeah. Anything can happen. I’m lucky to get through it, that’s for sure.”

YOUR GUYS HAVE WORKED HARD? “Yeah, my guys put it back together pretty well. It’s actually real good right now. We’ve only had a couple laps to race, but we were passing cars and it’s nice and loose and fun to drive. I really want to race some more, but if it does rain, a Ford is up front and that’s important, too. It’s just wild out here. When the tires get a little worn out and you’re sliding all over the place, it’s really a lot of fun. I’m enjoying this race for sure.”


MORE DAVID RAGAN -- ON HIS SIXTH-PLACE FINISH. “Well on one end, I’m a little disappointed this thing didn’t end under green. I think our UPS Ford was capable of winning the race and you only get one Daytona 500 a year, so it’s going to be a thing that I think about at night. But how awesome is it to see the No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford winning the Daytona 500. Jack Roush has put a lot of work into this program for a number of years and it’s cool to see that. And it’s cool to see a Ford on top of things. But it was a good solid day for us and of course we’ll take it and move on to California.”

DO YOU THINK IF IT WOULD HAVE STAYED GREEN YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CHARGE UP TO THE FRONT? “Oh absolutely. Our car was handling good enough to be able to handle just about everywhere it needed to; it was just all dependent on who was behind me and who was in front of me. At times I felt like I was the best car on the race track and sometimes I felt like we were a sitting duck and we were going to finish 25th. It was just all dependent on the help that I had. We had a lot of help because we had fast car.”

BOBBY LABONTE – No. 96 Ford Fusion (finished 22nd) – “It started off pretty good. We were running up there in the top-five and top-10, and just the handle got away from me. It just got too tight by ourselves, and when someone got close it got too loose. We just struggled with the balance after that. We got back there a little bit and could never get it right. We just could never get it back right, you know?” DID YOU SEE SOME THINGS THAT ARE CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM? “Oh, yeah. Yeah. I’m just down today, but I feel good that there will be things that we’ll be able to concentrate on next weekend. You know, I never even sat in this race car with the motor running until I got here, but I am definitely optimistic about what’s going to hold true for us next week.”

BILL ELLIOTT – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion (finished 23rd) – “It’s survival for me. I’m just proud of the guys, they worked hard. I wish we would’ve had a little bit better shot at it, but you know how it is.” IF IT HADN’T BEEN CUT SHORT, DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO GAIN SOME MORE SPOTS? “I was just kind of biding my time there. We were pretty good, I wanted to get a little bit better, but we didn’t have the opportunity.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (finished 37th) – “I’m not real sure. You can’t really see anything, except for the guys in front of you. The line just wouldn’t go. I was getting run into from the back and I’m hitting the guy in front of me, and it looked like someone got spun around in the right, but it was a really good day for the Crown Royal Ford Fusion. It drove really well and we had some awesome horsepower this weekend from Yates and all those guys. Sometimes it’s just not your day.”

PAUL MENARD – No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion (finished 38th) – “The all stacked up off of four. I’m not sure who it was, maybe the 31 got in the wall, and we were all good until somebody moved down and kind of hooked our right-rear and got us in the fence. It was a good race car. We were just kind of surviving there at the end.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 28 Golden Corral Ford Fusion (finished 42nd) – WHAT HAPPENED? “Just blew a right front. I had a vibration for around a lap, and we were going through one and two and then it slid pretty bad that lap. I was all the way up against the wall through three and four. There were just a lot of cars. I was trying to get down that lap. But, it blew kind of on the exit of four. Just tried ride it out too long, basically.” PRIOR TO THE VIBRATION, DID YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHAT YOUR CAR COULD DO? “I had a pretty good car. It drove up from the back to mid-pack and then kind of got shuffled to the back again and drove then back up to mid-pack again, so I was pretty happy with the car. We got it driving a lot better, especially since Thursday. Not much of an indication, picked up a little bit of a vibration and then just popped.”


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