Toyota Racing – Matt Kenseth
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Richmond Raceway – Sept. 8, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was made available to the media at Richmond Raceway:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Hurricane Relief Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your outlook for tomorrow?
“Well, just trying to get a good run. Still obviously looking for that win this year. Haven’t been able to get it. Our performance has been pretty good the past couple of months. We’ve had better finishes. Just so far behind from the beginning of the year, so we’re kind of getting caught up in points. I think it’s fairly close back there. Hopefully, we can get a good run, get in the playoffs, kind of get hot when we need to.”
Did Denny Hamlin’s penalty hurt him less than others because he already has a win?
“Well, I mean, first of all, I think the penalty is exactly the same. I mean, unfortunately Joey (Logano) had the penalty earlier in the year and everybody feels like it’s more severe, but it’s really not. It’s the same. We’ve all had the same exact number of races to go out and win, to gather more points, you know, besides just that one, so I feel like the penalty is the same. It’s just later in the year and Denny (Hamlin) already had another win and has more points. As far as if they already have a win, you know, pushing it, I think everybody’s pushing it every week to go as fast as they can and be as aggressive as they can. Certainly, I think when it comes to strategy, you know, things like that, if you’re already locked in, maybe you can be a little bit more aggressive than if you need to beat the guys right around you for points to get in, but I don’t think much. I mean, it’s so competitive. Everybody’s always racing as hard as they can. The days of kind of being conservative have been over for quite some time. The cars are just so close – same speed – everybody just runs as hard as they can every lap it feels like.”
How did you end up with the Hurricane Relief paint scheme on your Toyota Camry this weekend?
“Yeah, there’s a little handout about it, but Toyota was on the car this weekend, decided to use their spot and dedicate it to Hurricane Harvey relief. We got the Red Cross on there, the St. Bernard Project to give money to both of those places, so, yeah, it’s obviously a terrible thing in Texas. Toyota moved their headquarters to Texas here recently, so they’re not real far removed from that. Obviously with another one coming, there’s a lot of people that need a lot of help.”
How much will you pay attention to where Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray are running?
“You know, honestly, I won’t really pay much attention to it. I mean, maybe Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) will if something weird happens with strategy or you get a long green flag run at the end, when to pit, that type of thing. I feel like this is one of our better tracks. We qualified well in the spring, led a lot early, then got off on our setup a little bit at the end of the race. Really I’m still thinking about trying to get that win. Yeah, I mean, we want to get in, but if you win, you’re in for sure, so I don’t think you’re going to pay much attention. Maybe at the end of the race you pay a little bit of attention who is leading, where those two guys are, but I think we just run our own race. Like I said, we’ve been pretty competitive the last couple of months. We unfortunately got wrecked out of Michigan. Other than that, we’ve had some good finishes, consistent. We’ve been running better. We haven’t been running as good as the best two or three cars, but we’ve definitely been gaining. We kind of just want to continue that momentum and like I said get hot these next 11 weeks and get some wins.”
Would taking away a win be any sort of deterrent with the penalties that have already been issued?
“Yeah, I mean, look, I’m not an expert on any of this. I don’t work on race cars any more. The stuff is all, you know, it’s just not like it was in the old days, right? Where you got a big restrictor plate, you got soft tires, you got a big engine or stuff. This stuff is all thousandths of an inch. It’s all ticky tack. Yes, everybody is pushing the limit and trying to get everything they can because all the cars are incredibly close to the same speed. You give up a little bit of skew, you’re giving up that much side force to the competitor, that might be the difference between winning and losing, so I don’t even know. I haven’t really talked to anybody internally. I don’t really know exactly what happened or why it didn’t pass when it got there. I know it went across the LS afterwards. I don’t really know, but, man, it’s not like – it’s just different. I mean, I feel like the penalties are pretty severe the way they are, honestly, the way the whole system is set up, that at the end of the day could very well cost him the championship really.”
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