Toyota Racing – Matt Kenseth
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 10, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was made available to the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
Matt Kenseth, No. 20 DeWALT FLEXVOLT Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about coming off your third-place finish at Atlanta and racing this weekend in Vegas?
“Yeah, I’ve always liked coming here to Las Vegas. We ran pretty well last year. We finished very poorly, but we ran pretty well. Tested here in January. Not sure how much we learned, but it never hurts, so looking forward to getting out there today with this reduced downforce and seeing what it’s like here.”
Do you think the stage racing scenarios will vary depending on tracks and varying events?
“Well, you know, the real answer is I just don’t know. I mean, obviously Daytona is very unique. Atlanta I think I was a lap down for both the stages, so I wasn’t really a factor or really part of that. I know they ran green and you’ve got to have tires there, so you couldn’t really get too far off sequence to try to do much different there. So it might be different at tracks like this. I think at every track it’ll probably raise the line of thinking, will probably be a little bit different.”
Are you putting any more value in the points available during the stages in a race?
“Well, I think they’re always valuable, especially since they’re kind of rewarding the top 10 in points after 26 weeks – obviously you want to collect every single point that you can collect. But like I said, I wasn’t part of either one of those because we were a lap down from our speeding penalty, and you know, weren’t back in there at that time. I think you want to be aware of where you are in laps, and obviously you’re racing people hard to get those spots at the segments, as well, at the end of the race. You know, it’s not as – I wish it was as easy as I hear crew chiefs saying, hey, you need three more spots and you’re going to get that point; oh, okay, I’ll just pass those guys. I wasn’t planning on it, I was happy here. I mean, man, it’s so competitive as you look down the lap times each and every week, you can see all the cars are so close to the same speed. It’s just not that easy, so everybody is racing as hard as they can, but yeah, for sure the points and your running order after those two segments are more important than ever.”
Is there any concern as a whole how your race team has finished in the first two races of the season?
“Well, I mean, man, you’re only two weeks in. Really it’s hard to count Daytona. Everybody – it’s so easy to get caught up in a wreck there, and like our wreck at Daytona, I really didn’t have anything to do with that, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there’s just nothing you can do about that. I don’t put a lot of stock in where you leave in the points standings after Daytona. I just never have because it doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the season. Last week – and I don’t know, Denny (Hamlin) had mechanical failure, not sure about Kyle (Busch). I thought we ran pretty well really the whole day. We just had those speeding penalties. As far as that, we knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast. When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments, where now you went through them last weekend so fast like if you ever did get one light over or whatever there was no time to correct. But for us we just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”