Matt Kenseth put paid to some of the detractors who claimed that he was unable to win races in NASCAR's senior class by taking victory after a 37-race dry spell in Sunday's Subway 400 at Rockingham.

The success elevated the reigning champion to second in points behind Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr, and handed team owner Jack Roush his eleventh win in the last twelve Ford successes.

Q:
Matt, when did you realise that you were going to have to react [under pressure from Kasey Kahne] coming off turn four?

Matt Kenseth:
Before the middle of the corner you're already wide open anyway. I got a little loose up off of four. I knew he was a little bit lower, but I didn't really pay that much attention. I figured as long as I can get into three in front of him, there's no way he was gonna beat me off four down the straightaway. So I was surprised he had that big of a run. I was probably halfway from turn four to the finish line before I looked down and saw his nose was up by the door. I was like 'man, he's gaining momentum on me'.

So I probably did the wrong thing, I turned right. The line is a little bit of an angle, but I actually turned right to get away from his car so he couldn't pull the air off my door and fill my wheel wells there and slow me down, so I tried to get away from him as much as I could and just hold it wide open. I was surprised because I didn't expect that. I expected him to make a last-ditch effort, but I didn't expect it to be there. I didn't expect him to get that good of a run, so it was kind of a surprise and I was glad we made it back there.

Q:
Did you have a view of [team-mate] Mark [Martin]'s restart?

MK:
I didn't see any of it, so I can't really comment on it too much. I will say that all day we were getting really good restarts. Every time we got a restart when we were in the lead, I cleared the lap-down car every single time getting into turn one. By the end of the backstretch I had a ten or 15-car length lead and the lapped car was in between me and the second-place car every single time. So I don't think it was something different.

I know Mark pretty well and even if it's me, he isn't gonna do something that's gonna hurt his reputation. You know how he drives. I don't really think he did [block], but I didn't see it, so I don't really know. There was one restart where Robby Gordon was in between me and the second-place guy for 35 laps. They're doing what they can to
stay the first car a lap down and get that lucky dog thing, so I'm sure he was trying to stay in that position. But the short answer is, no, I didn't see it.

Q:
Did you have a sense of security today?

MK:
That's exactly what happened with not making adjustments. We were so good in the middle of the race that I didn't want to do something to the car that would be hard to reverse - like pulling a spring rubber or going too far on something and getting behind. We were so good in the middle of the race. There wasn't anybody that I felt like that could run with us the first 300 laps. I should have adjusted on it more. The car was giving me every sign that I needed to get better traction up off the corner and I just couldn't figure out how to do that without hurting the middle of the corner. I thought we were gonna be okay for a short run, but we weren't. We were too loose and I almost gave that race away because we didn't adjust on the car the way we should have. It would have been really hard for me to face me crew that had those perfect pit-stops and kept me up front all day if I would have lost that thing in the last hundred yards.

Q:
Is it a relief to win again?

MK:
Yeah, it feels great to come here and be able to win right out of the box and lead all those laps. That didn't look like us. Usually we don't lead all those laps. Even if we win, we usually sneak up kind of at the end and we had such a strong car, so it feels good to do that because, obviously, some people wrote or some people have said that we can't lead laps and win races, and we just finish seventh every week. So it was great to go dominate the race the way we did.

Even though we didn't dominate at the end, it was really fun for me to dominate the middle of the race, and also because we had so much stuff go on over the winter. We got the same pit crew together. We didn't lose any people and they've been practicing really hard. They showed what they were made of down there today and never lost a spot. They kept me in the lead and gained me spots when we were behind all day. The new body that Ford has and the engine programme and all the stuff we've got going, I've been so excited to get to the track. I thought we were capable of this, so it feels good to me to come here and be able to do this so early in the year.

Q:
What are your thoughts on possibly losing this track?

MK:
I don't like change a lot. I like things the way they are. I like historic places and the roots of it. I understand the need to market the sport to more people and to go to other cities and have a bigger TV number. I understand all of what they're trying to do but, just as a plain racer, it's sad for me because I love racing here. Even if we ran bad here, I'd still love coming here because it's such a different track.

There are only two of them left on the schedule where the tyres wear out as much as they do and the cars slide as much as they do. It's like you're driving on ice at the end of the run and you really have to have a good chassis set-up. The aerodynamics don't really mean everything and the engine doesn't really mean everything. You have to have a good mechanical setup that has grip in the car and keep it balanced. There's so many different things you can do from a driver's standpoint and from a set-up standpoint and that's really a challenge more so than what we have at a lot of the new types of tracks they're building. It's sad that there's only one race here. I'm glad we won the one race they had this year and hopefully we'll be able to get the attendance here to be able to keep racing here.

Q:
Were you concerned that you weren't on the lead lap at the last pit-stop?

MK:
I was concerned a little bit because I'm a worry-wart and I worry about everything. I was maybe 60 per cent concerned because of the situation that happened earlier. I was actually farther ahead of the leader this time and the same situation happened earlier in the race, so I felt good about where we were when the caution came out - that we were farther ahead of the leader than we were the first time when we were still on the lead lap. I felt good about all those things. I thought it would have been hard to present a case to show me that it was right the first time and wrong the second time.

I've got to applaud NASCAR because they took their time and they figured it out. The field freezes now when the yellow comes out, so it's a little bit different than it used to be. We were ahead of the line. We were ahead of the leader. They did it right the first time. They did it right the second time and they took the time to correct the situation with the #9 and put him back on the lead lap too. That was the right thing to do, so I applaud them for taking the time and sorting that all out so the finish was the correct one with the right cars in the right place.

Q:
Were you aware [of what was going on] during the stop?

MK:
At both stops, I heard it. On the first stop we were just getting around to the left side and on the second one we were still on the rights just coming to the lefts. I actually yelled two tyres, so I'm glad they didn't listen to me and they did what they were trained to do because we would have had to come back down and we would have been the last car on the lead lap and we wouldn't have won the race. So they did the absolute right thing and they did their job and finished it. We left pit-road and didn't speed and came out because I could kind of see what was going on. I knew what happened the first time, so didn't speed so I wouldn't get any penalties and got back out in front of those guys. You always see the officials because they're always waving their hands right away when the yellow comes out, so I kind of saw that and then our spotter tells us the yellow is out and what's going on.

Q:
What were your thoughts when the #9 went from a lap down to being back on the lead lap?

MK:
I saw him back there. I sort of knew he was in the same boat as us, but I didn't know for sure that he pitted the same lap or the next lap or if they had a slow stop or what the situation was. So when I left pit-road, the pace car was about even with me and I just kept on getting it and got caught up to the tail-end because I knew back here where the race is scored I was way ahead of everybody and I didn't want to speed.

The pace car runs faster than pit-road speed, so I think when he pulled off pit-road he was probably fourth or fifth in line instead of along the pace car or just barely in front of him, so he probably just pulled up in line and figured he was a lap down. That was the right thing to do to let NASCAR correct it and not pass the pace car and do all that stuff. But, yeah, when I saw him coming around and they put him right behind me and he had four new tyres and was in the same boat as us, I was a little bit more concerned because he caught the #42. The #42 was real stout on a short run, too. I think he would have given me as much trouble as the #9 because he was right there at the end, but I knew the #9 had a really strong car last fall and dominated the race. I knew they were gonna be tough again.

Q:
How does it feel to win after only doing so once last year?

MK:
It feels good to come out of the box and win right away. I touched on that a little bit earlier. It feels good to do that. I don't think there was much bad you could say about our year last year and that was one of the most common things they talked about, so whenever you can do something that's good and maybe prove people wrong or prove that we can do things it always feels good.

Q:
Did the 'non-regular' drivers do a good job today?

MK:
Yeah. Everybody around me did a good job of being respectful to the leaders and giving us a lane all the time. Sometimes that's difficult to do here because, typically,
on a long run we run right against the wall in three and four and on the bottom in one and two, so it's hard to get out of the way when you're running all over the race track as the leader. So I thought they did a good job. I don't know what happened with that wreck on the backstretch, but they did a good job.

Q:
Did the spoiler rules affect today's race?

MK:
I don't think it affected it much here, really. For our cars, I felt good about it because I felt like we were really aero-balanced and I feel like Robbie and Chip and everybody at the shop did the right thing with our cars the way we built them and the different things we did to get our aero-balance right. I feel like we got it right even though it's a little harder to tell here just because the mechanical grip comes into play a little more than aerodynamics. I think it'll be good. It won't be bad. The cars are gonna turn better and I think the racing will be a little bit better.

Q:
Why were you so fast on restarts?

MK:
I don't know - because I was the first one in line? I don't know. We had a little different transmission that we've run here the last couple times. I know it's a little different than what some of my team-mates run and it was an advantage to have that when we were in the front. The stuff would stay hooked up and the motor ran real good and I tried to be careful not to spin the tyres and we could just get away. We could do that all day for some reason. We really seemed to be strong on those restarts and that helped a lot because when you're on fresh tyres and full of gas and low pressures, it's nice not to have somebody right on your bumper.

Q:
How were the last couple of laps?

MK:
This place is real fast. You carry a lot of speed, but it does drive like a short track. When the tires get worn out and slippery - the easiest way I can explain it is when you first go out and drive it's like you're on 15-inch soft tyres and the car is just stuck. In about 20 laps, it feels like you're on gravel and, in about 50 laps, it feels like you're on ice, so it's kind of like when you make those longer runs it's like running a 100-lap feature at your local short track where those bias-ply tyres will wear out the right rear and they'll get looser and looser and looser and you have to be careful with your tyres and do the right thing. To me, that's really a challenge and a lot of fun.

Q:
Jack, were you surprised to get called to the [NASCAR] trailer [over the Martin incident]?

Jack Roush:
There was a lot going on in that trailer, let me tell you. I felt like more of an observer than a participant. I've got great respect for everybody that was on the race track - all the competitors. Chip Ganassi, Felix Sabates - they're two of my good friends and I respect them. They were at serious odds with NASCAR over the rule that exists about freezing the field. It wasn't a surprise to me that what happened to Matt's car - to the #17 car - that's the way the rule was. If they want a different rule, if the rule isn't what we think ought to be done, well then change the rule. Anyway, there are hard feelings over that and that probably overshadowed anything else.

We went up and met John Darby and Mike Helton, and the guys wanted Mark and I to look at the video and see how it developed. It was real clear from what Mark said he was doing and from what he did on the race track that he got out of the way as soon as the #9 got to him. It was unfortunate that the #9 and the #42 were racing side by side, but Mark pulled down - not off the race track - but pulled down out of the way of the #9, which was the first car that caught him. He was in line with the #9 and pulled down in such a way not to slow him down at all, but the #42 was impacted by the fact that there was a lead-lap down - who was Mark - that was down there.

At the same time, you've got to realise that the #19 and the #24 were right behind the #42, and Mark was racing for position there. I feel bad for everybody that got their feelings hurt and this is one race in a 36-race schedule - and some of us want to think of it now as a 26-race schedule - it's one race in a big, long year.

I don't want to make this sound wrong, but whether Matt won today or whether Jamie McMurray won or whether Kasey had his first win, I would have celebrated any of them. Any of it was fine. Whatever the rules are. Whatever the interpretation is, it's just fine. But for there to be a question whether Mark tried to benefit Matt, that is out of order. This is my 17th year with Mark and he doesn't block anybody or get anybody's way and never has for all those years. For a question to be raised about whether he was intentionally in the way of somebody, Mark Martin is a guy that's never in anybody's way.

Q:
The objection seems to be that Matt was beyond the scoring line...

JR:
We never had a discussion. There was a big brouhaha going on in there before we went up to look at the tape and I wasn't part of that discussion. I can only tell you that it was apparent that people were not in agreement on what they all thought they saw. I wasn't asked anything and I didn't offer an opinion as to what the issues were. I can only surmise based on the comments when they came out about what the argument had been. The reason I was up in there was just simply to look at the tape and say 'guys, look at this. Is this what we're all supposed to be doing?'.

Nobody said that Mark didn't do the right thing and, for that matter, was there any accusation that there were team orders or anything like that - which there absolutely are not.

Q:
Any other comments...?

JR:
I want to say how much I enjoy coming to Rockingham - how much we're gonna miss the race going forward. The Rockingham race track, its staff, the conditions - the fact we get to race on a track where the driver's judgement and the crew chief's anticipation of what's gonna happen have such a great affect on the result. This is racing the way I really enjoy and it'll be a great sadness to come here only once.

Q:
Matt, did you have any idea that your car would be this good after Friday?

MK:
I had a feeling we'd run pretty good. I didn't know we'd run as good as we did today. I've been driving my wife crazy and everybody around me. I've been almost giddy for the last two months just because I've been so looking forward to this year more so than any other year. I know I touched on it earlier, but we didn't lose any team members. The 'over the wall' guys - this is their second year together - and they just did a flawless job today. The Taurus got some upgrades and that will get us closer to the GM products. Jack and Robert doing their engine programme - we thought that was gonna be a little better.

And I thought the smaller spoiler and all that was gonna benefit Jeff Burton and Mark Martin and my driving style. I thought that would come into play more like in '98 with those short spoilers, and Mark and Jeff won all those races. I thought maybe that would help us a little bit with that smaller tyre because of chassis set-ups and things like that, so everything was kind of aligned at the start of this year. I thought we could go out and do these things and I think everybody at Roush is gonna go
do a lot of great things this year. So I've been anxiously awaiting getting to the tracks. I've been waiting to get to the downforce tracks and see what we had and it was nice today to come out and see that the stuff we did over the winter was right.

Q:
The pit-stops were big - could you have made it up if you were further back in the field?

MK:
We'll never know. It's an advantage to be in the front, but we did start 23rd and the first run we made we made tremendous gains. I don't know what we drove up to, but we drove up to the top ten anyway - seventh or something - and drove to lead the second run shortly thereafter. We caught all those guys and passed them, so I knew we had one of the best cars on the track. If we would have come out of the pits sixth with 30 laps to go, no, we probably wouldn't have won, but the important thing is we didn't.

We had a good car early and through the middle of the race. I didn't do the best job of adjusting on it at the end the way I should have because we were running so good and that's something I've got to learn from and try to do a better job next time. But we had great car all day. We had a car that would pass cars and this isn't a hard
track to pass on. If you're faster than the guy in front of you, you can pass him.