Ford Performance NASCAR: Matt Kenseth Media Session at Darlington

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Bojangles’ Southern 500 Advance (Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC)

Friday, August 31, 2018

 

 

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford Fusion, will be making his ninth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start with Roush Fenway Racing this season and 25th overall at Darlington.  He talked about this weekend before practice.

 

MATT KENSETH, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford Fusion – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BACK AT DARLINGTON WITH ROUSH FENWAY, AND WHAT IS THE PRESTIGE LEVEL LIKE TO WIN THIS RACE?  “I’ve always thought the Southern 500 was one of the biggest three or four races of the year in my mind.   I remember watching this race before I started driving and watching the Cup races when I was still running the Busch Series races, and it was one I looked forward to every year.  It’s still the same way.  It’s fun to come down here, especially on Labor Day Weekend.  I think when we were fortunate enough to win this race in 2013 it was one of the most exciting wins I’ve probably ever had.  It’s a really neat track.  It’s one everybody wants to win at for sure.”

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART IN THIS RETURN TO RFR AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS YOU’VE APPRECIATED?  “Honestly, the hardest part has been these guys handing out weiner whistles in the middle of me doing this.  It’s very distracting.  Everybody is looking at them and laughing and giggling and wondering what they’re supposed to do with them and I’m trying to concentrate on your question (laughter).  Probably the hardest part is just kind of coming in somewhat mid-season, partial-season, doing part-time and trying to get some momentum and trying to get the lay of the land and trying to get things rolling.  The hardest part just has been a different role and there’s just a lot to learn and a lot to take in and a lot of differences, so just trying to figure out the people and the system again and kind of where we were at, where we need to go, that type of thing.”

 

DO YOU WANT TO COME BACK NEXT YEAR?  HAVE YOU SEEN ENOUGH THAT THIS WOULD WANT TO MAKE YOU RETURN TO FULL-TIME RACING?  “Again, I’m just kind of honestly trying to concentrate on the rest of this season and trying to get this done.  Those are probably things to talk about at a later date, but the season has been up-and-down.  I wish our results were better than what they were, but yet on the other hand I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress.  It doesn’t really show necessarily on the stat sheets or the box score all the time, but I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress and really just trying to keep that going and keep moving forward and keep trying to get more competitive by the end of the season.”

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT INDIANAPOLIS BEING THE CUTOFF RACE NEXT WEEK?  “I don’t know.  I look at them all as another race and the challenge that particular weekend.  I haven’t really put any thought at all into it being the cutoff race for the Playoffs.  I’m not really sure it will change a lot of things for there, and I honestly don’t know what anybody’s situation is, so it’s a tough question for me to answer.”

 

IS IT A LITTLE WEIRD NOT TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT PLAYOFF POSITION FOR YOU?  “Yeah, I don’t know if it’s been strange, it’s just been different.  It’s been interesting for me to get in and kind of drive for a while and then step away for a few weeks and kind of take a different view of the team, the sport, the race weekends, the way things go down from TV and reading notes and watching data and doing those kind of things.  It’s been interesting.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot and it’s definitely a different perspective.  I don’t know if it’s been weird, it’s just been different.”

 

YOUR FUTURE IS NOT CERTAIN IN THE SPORT.  HAVE YOU DECIDED TO WANT TO COME BACK AND RACE NEXT YEAR?  ARE THERE ANY TALKS?  “I think I already gave you the best answer non-answer I could come up with.  I think you pretty much repeated that question, so just go back in the notes and repeat my answer.  I don’t think I can give a non-answer that good again, so you’re gonna have to go back and look at the transcript (laughing).”

 

IF SOMETHING LIKE THE 41 CAME OPEN AND THEY ASKED YOU IF YOU WERE INTERESTED IN THAT WOULD THAT BE AN OPTION?  “Again, I’m just trying to get running the best we can this year.  I’m certainly not talking about next year and I haven’t really put as much thought into it as you all have, honestly.  I think I still have seven races left this season.  Trevor has a few races.  I have not made the impact at Roush Fenway Racing at least in the finishes and the performance necessarily as I had hoped, or as big of a one as I hoped, but that’s really all I’m thinking about right now is getting the performance better and try to do a better job for those guys and get cars faster and get better finishes and get the team operating better and get me operating better – all that kind of stuff.  I’m not really looking forward right now.”

 

DOWN THE ROAD WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN OWNERSHIP?  “That one I can for sure answer for you, I have exactly zero percent interest in ownership of a race car.  That one I’ll give you a straight answer on.”

 

HAVE YOU EVER NOT RUN FOR POINTS?  “Yeah.  I mean, first of all, the answer you want me to give you is yeah, we raced before my rookie year we ran five or seven races or something like people used to do before they went first year full-time.  My first year in the then-Busch Series we ran like half the season.  I came in like April and finished the year, that type of thing, and late model stuff.  Contrary to popular belief, I have never raced for points.  I’ve raced each race to try to go out and do the best I could, try to win, try to finish that race as high as you can if you can’t win, and that’s not really any different of an outlook as it is today.  But one thing I have learned from being at home and watching TV is as much as we try to make everything not about points, that’s all you hear on TV is points, points, points all the time.  So I don’t want to hear it anymore.  I just show up to race and try to finish the best I can.  That’s all I’ve ever really done, it’s just this big conception that everybody is like, ‘You race for points.’  Well, the better you run or the better you finish you always just got more.  That’s just the way it worked.”

YOU SAID YOU LEARNED SOME THINGS.  IS THAT YOUR NUMBER ONE TAKEAWAY IS PEOPLE FOCUS MORE ON POINTS THAN THE RACING?  “I do find that interesting because it was supposed to be not about that and when you turn it on you hear it a lot.  I mean maybe not every lap, but every two laps you hear something about some kind of point, which is crazy.  That part, just as far as just as watching what everybody is focused on, that part surprised me a little bit, but, other than that, it’s just been different.  I’ve enjoyed watching.  It’s always been weird for me for whatever other reason if somebody would drive “your car”, whether it was testing of whatever it is, but this has been interesting.  It’s been interesting to watch Trevor drive and then read his comments and watch his data and listen to what he says and kind of what Ricky says and kind of take a different view of everything than necessarily when you’re at the track all the time.  So, in a way, it’s been good to kind of back up and get away and kind of watch and see what goes on because there’s a lot of things you miss when you’re just in the car.”

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