Toyota Racing – Matt Kenseth
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Bristol Motor Speedway – August 18, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DEWALT / Flexvolt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Talk about the Bristol night race and what makes it special.
“I mean I think as a fan before I started racing here on Saturday nights and even when I was running the XFINITY Series, you always look forward to watching this race on TV. It seemed like there was a lot of great of great dramatic events that happened through the years at the night race. It was neat once we got to start running. It always feels like one of the biggest races of the year. It’s always an exciting atmosphere and an action packed race, so it’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”
Being one of the drivers that has raced here for years, is it still as fun as it was when you started racing here even with all of the changes that have been made to the track?
“The problem with that is it’s pretty much in everything in life, but especially in this business, it’s impossible to make everybody happy. So what you think is a great race might not be the same as what he thinks is a great a race which might not be the same as what I think is a great race. People can argue that all day long. It used to be a 100 percent one groove track and yea, some cars would move each other before they switched the styles of the cars and then it was hard to even move somebody. I think that as much as I love the old track and didn’t want it to ever change, I think the changes they made and reconfigured it certainly gave you more options and made the racing, in my opinion, better because you could look for different grooves and you could get alongside somebody and hopefully pass someone where that was tough to do before.”
Any plans for the 2018 season?
“No, not at the moment. When I do I’ll tweet something. Like on a Monday or something. No plans right now. Just raise kids and hang out with my family.”
Do you have any announcement to make regarding the 2018 season?
“I’ll let you know when I know something. I’ll be honest with you, I’m just, I’m not worried about it even really one percent anymore to be honest with you. I’m just not concerned about it. It’s not – I’m really concerned about 2017 and that’s the truth. I mean we’ve got thirteen races or something left. Three to try to get into – I think three to try to get into the playoffs. We’re not in there yet. Kind of got ran over at the end of the race last week by the 24 (Chase Elliott), trying to race him and wanted at least for points to try to get, try to get a cushion if we don’t get a win. But hopefully we get a win, get in the playoffs and try to race for a championship. That’s our goal every year and really that’s what I’m been concentrating on.”
Looking for a win, does that change your strategy?
“I’ve never been in a race I didn’t want to win. I’ve never been in a race where I didn’t feel like I needed the win. I don’t know that it really changes. You know ever since Daytona we’ve been trying to win and know that quote unquote needed that win. To me it doesn’t really change. You’re going to race as hard as you can and try to get that win anytime you can. It’s really hard to win races at this level. I’ve been doing it a long time, really haven’t won that many races compared to how many I’ve started so I realize how hard it is to win. You always try to take advantage of those opportunities if you have them.”
You’ve had four wins here in your career, does any one win stand out as harder or easier over the years and is it harder to win now the way the track is set up?
“I’ve never had an easy one. Probably the first one we won here was probably, I don’t want to say the easiest, but we probably had the best car. We were on the pole and we just led a lot of lap and unless we messed up, it was probably going to be hard to beat us. Other than that none of them are ever easy. You know I really liked the configuration of the old cars but with the new cars, the new configuration’s pretty good. We’ve had really good cars here since I’ve been at JGR. We’ve had some DNFs, some bad things happen, but we’ve led some laps. We’ve been in position most races. Didn’t run great in the spring but finished okay. SO hopefully we can get our car to run like it typically does here and if we can do that, we’re usually a contender more so than not.”
With short track like Martinsville and Bristol, does the car evolve so much since you were here in the spring that you don’t want to bring the same car back or can you get by with the same car?
“I think you’re always making your cars better. Even if the rules don’t change, I think that you’re always refining your setups, your cars and how everything runs. I feel like especially with the way we do things at JGR, I don’t think that you come back here in August with the same thing you had in April or May, whenever it was when we were here. I don’t think that would probably run as good. You’re always making improvements. If you’re not, you’re getting behind in a big hurry.”