WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Robbie Reiser is the crew chief for NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth. Although they take a 286-point lead into Sunday's Sirius Satellite at the Glen road course race, he said the team is taking nothing for granted. That's why they tested at Watkins Glen International and refuse to start thinking about their advantage in the standings. Reiser took time away from his DeWalt Ford Taurus to talk about the pressures of leading the points.
Question: How did the test at Watkins Glen go and is Matt getting more comfortable with road courses?
Reiser: The test went real well. We tried a lot of different stuff. We weren't real fast or anything, but we pretty much did a parts test. We worked on brakes and some things that Matt didn't like at the road course at Sears Point, so we kind of went there just to try some things and help him. I will tell you this, I think Matt Kenseth is able to drive road courses. I think it's taken us some time to get to the point where we can supply him with a car that is competitive on the road course. I think as a team we've been working together to try and get it where we're more competitive.
Question: Your team hasn't been involved in any wrecks this year. Does that help a team when they don't have to spend a lot of time in the shop rebuilding cars?
Reiser: There's no question that whenever you don't have a bunch of tore up stuff you don't get yourself behind and that helps further your advancement on the cars. We've had some wrecks and we've had to fix some stuff, but, all in all, it's been a good year. I don't think there's anybody that's been able to win a championship that went through a year where he wrecked a bunch of stuff. We're probably just on the same course that other people have been on.
Question: How have you handled your position as the leader of the Winston Cup Series standings?
Reiser: I think for our team it hasn't been all that different. It's been business as usual. I think for Matt, he has a lot more involvement with the fans and all the outside people, so he sees things from a different set of eyes than we do. We pretty much come to work, do our work, and then go home at night. When we leave the racetracks, we go back and work at the shop, so we don't really see the outside world, and we don't get that involved in it all.
Question: Are the guys more excited to work on the car because you're the points leader?
Reiser: I think our season has been business as usual. I don't think the guys are into the point deal as much as what people would want to believe. I think they are totally focused on what they want to do every week, but I can't say that I see those guys getting caught up in the points. Maybe I'm not looking at it right, but I haven't seen those guys get all wound up over the points. They're more interested in trying to come here and win races than worrying about where they are in the points right now. They realize if they do well, the points will fall into place. I know everybody gets sick of hearing that, but that's really how we've taken this role.
Question: Does the fact Matt leads the point standings affect your strategy on race day?
Reiser: Yeah, I think we don't want to make a big mistake. There's no question about that. At Daytona we weren't really conservative, it was what we had to do. At Loudon we took a chance and came out of there with a real good finish. We went to Pocono and the problem with Pocono is it's such a big racetrack that I couldn't take the chance of running him out (of gas). That's why I pitted. I know a lot of people will second-guess that decision, but if I had a crystal ball and could have looked into it to know what was gonna happen those last 30 laps, I probably would have pitted differently. But being that we've just got to go do it, that was the choice and that's why we did what we did.
Question: Since Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second in the standings, do you pay attention to where he is during the race?
Reiser: It's pretty easy to answer that because if I was looking at Dale Jr. in Pocono, I would have stayed out. He was really the only one of the points guys that was still left in the race, so I could have stayed in his tire tracks and finished third. But, at the time, I couldn't make it and I wanted to pit early enough that I didn't get behind everybody. There were 10 cars that had already pitted under green, so I didn't want to get ourselves too far back because I wanted to have a shot at winning it. We ran up front all day long, so there was no reason why we couldn't have won that race. That's why we pitted that way, but when the cautions fell the way they fell, it put us in a bad spot.
Question: Are you going to be one of those guys who could have a 200-point lead going into the last race and still not be at ease?
Reiser: I don't know. You've got to be smart about it. We didn't get here by making mistakes. We got here by doing things and having things work out for us. A lot of people say, "Well, you guys are lucky." But in a lot of cases you make your own luck. At Pocono, we made our own luck there and the week before at Loudon, we made our own luck there. What I've been trying to tell our guys is to just go each and every week and do the best we can and when the weekend is over we'll take a look at where we're at. I hope that's how we approach it until the end of the year.
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