TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Matt Kenseth – Notes & Quotes
Pocono Raceway – July 29, 2016
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was made available to the media at Pocono Raceway:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your outlook on Pocono after winning here last year and is there anything special you like to do while you are in the Poconos for the weekend?
“Yeah, I always go hunting right after practice (laughter). The finish of the race was great for us last year. It’s been better for us here the last year was pretty decent and this year so far was pretty good. Used to be to be probably one of my worst tracks I think statistically how we performed and really how we finished. It’s been better for us lately so hopefully we can just continue from there and get a little better and hopefully have a shot this weekend and be upfront somewhere.”
Does having a win at a race track give you more confidence racing there?
“Everything changes a lot from the rules packages and what you learn on your cars and your setups and maybe how your organization or cars are running, that type of thing. But, certainly whenever you run better somewhere your confidence level is higher than when you go to a place and don’t run well. It’s just kind of human nature and that’s always subject to change at any time. You might go to your best track that you feel the best at and you feel like maybe one of your best places and run really bad and you might go to the place you feel like is not a good track for you and run good. You never know what’s going to happen. But, certainly yeah the success always breeds confidence.”
How much do you and your team look at the numbers going into a race like this?
“I don’t typically really look at those kind of numbers. We’re always looking through other numbers, stats and how the race plays out typically and averages for cautions and fuel mileage and those kinds of numbers. But as far as what you did before like qualifying and finishing position I don’t think we really sit and break that down because it doesn’t really mean anything for what’s going to happen necessarily this weekend.”
Do you pay attention to the Olympics or have any particular sports you like to watch?
“I’ve got to be honest, I don’t really pay much attention to it. I probably will maybe a little bit more than maybe I have in the past, but I just really haven’t watched it that much.”
Do you feel more confident heading into this weekend at Pocono compared to the June race after Indianapolis?
“I felt really confident last time. We didn’t get a lot of practice last time on Friday. We qualified really well. I think we qualified second or third. We had a really good car, we just really struggled on restarts and kept getting behind on restarts so hopefully we have that fixed for this time. Worked hard on that to try to keep our track position a little bit better and then we just got off a little bit on a set of tires and an adjustment and got behind. But, I really felt like we had a car that could’ve competed for the win last time so felt good about what we did there and just build on that and improve that a little bit for this time.”
Can you rate your season at this point with your two wins and how you’re looking forward to the Chase?
“Well, I mean I don’t know about just rating it as far as a grading scale or anything but overall it’s been good. I think we’ve ran pretty well on average. There’s certainly been weeks where we missed it and not performed well but there’s been a lot of weeks where we have performed well and maybe not got the finishes and then fortunately we’ve been able to get a couple wins along the way which is always great. So, I think it’s been good. I think all our Toyotas at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) have been really competitive and really fast and leading laps and winning races. It’s fun to be a part of that.”
Do you feel road course racing is the most dangerous racing you do all year or is it exciting for the fans?
“The danger aspect I hope not. I don’t know. There’s been a lot of bad wrecks at Watkins Glen. I think it’s hard to just group road courses together into two of them. But, Watkins Glen is really fast. I will say that they’ve done a lot of things to try to make that safer. We’ve seen some terrible wrecks there. I can’t really comment on Brad’s (Keselowski) wreck because I’ve got to be honest I haven’t seen it. But, that wreck a few years ago I think it was (David) Reutimann hitting the wall off of Turn 1, I mean, that’s a place where you never think about wrecking and that was just an awful wreck. Of course, off of I don’t know what you call that turn – Turn 5 or whatever – where there’s always been those wrecks. And, they do react and they try to make the track as safe as possible. There’s just a lot of weird angles there and you’re going really really fast for a road course at that place. So, yeah, if you had to rate them it is certainly one of the more dangerous tracks that you go to just because you’re not contained like you are at an oval.”
How do you feel the digital dashboards are performing and was it a big adjustment period for you?
“Yeah, I mean its fine. I guess maybe the teams could use a little bit more information than maybe they did before, I’m not sure. For me anyway it hasn’t really changed anything. I get pretty much the same information I got before with round gauges with the exception of lap times is really the only thing I get that we couldn’t get before. It’s fine. I don’t think it’s really changed that much from the cockpit but its fine.”
What is your take on the package announced for Michigan next month?
“Whenever you ask drivers we all want what’s best for our particular situation. Last year I felt like we performed really good with all of the aero packages. We were able to win with all of them as an organization. This year, Michigan we ran really really bad or at least I did with the 20. But, Kentucky we ran pretty good. I think we were running second and Brad (Keselowski) made it on fuel and we couldn’t make it and I thought we had a top three or four car with that same package. I’m looking forward to going back to Michigan and if I could pick one, I don’t know, we’ve probably ran better overall with the ’’16 package but we’ve only had two shots at that newer package. And, like I said, Kentucky was much improved over Michigan. Looking forward to running it again especially if that’s the direction they’re going for next year and seeing if we could improve on what we did last time and hopefully run toward the front.”