Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion, enters Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway fresh off his second Daytona 500 win and leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in points. Kenseth, who won at PIR in 2002 and sat on pole for the race last fall, met with members of the media Friday to discuss the events of last week and getting back in the saddle.
Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion
TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR EXPERIENCES YOU HAD THIS WEEK. YOU COME INTO PHOENIX WITH YOUR MIND ON RACING, BUT WHAT A WEEK YOU HAD. “Yeah, I had a great week. It was really busy and it probably won’t really sink in until I get to get home for a few days. I had a really good time and a wonderful speed weeks and it couldn’t have gone any better I guess. I am excited to be here in Phoenix. I always feel like after Daytona, no matter how it goes, that you get to Phoenix and start the rest of the season. Daytona is our biggest race of the year and you put a lot of effort and emphasis on that and I feel like once that is over you come here and get ready to get serious about the next six or seven months and hopefully try to get qualified for the Chase.”
The backstretch is kinda weird but other than that I like the track.
IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH ALL THIS MEDIA STUFF SURROUNDING DAYTONA FUN FOR YOU OR JUST PART OF THE JOB? “Thanks. I like your sweater by the way. That is real vibrant and good looking. Nice color for you. I enjoyed it. I had fun and the first year we won it in 2009 that was one of the more fun weeks I have had honestly. It was almost as fun as when we won the championship. Katie and I had a good time. It was four or five days and the race went off on time and all that. I got to do a lot of cool things between Letterman and the San Francisco tour and a lot of cool stuff. This week was fun too. It was different because the race went off so late Monday. We didn’t get a lot of sleep and it was crazy. We still did a lot of stuff. It was different because I answered questions about a lot of different subjects and not so much about us winning really. The week was different but I still really enjoyed it. Whenever you can win a race like that you need to enjoy it. A lot of people never get to win that race and to be able to win two of them I have certainly enjoyed it.”
HOW HARD WAS IT TO DO LINES WITH JAY LENO? “It was fun. I was a little nervous. To get up and speak in front of people is sometimes nerve wracking for me. I was nervous but I had a really good time doing that. I know it was just a short little segment but Jay Leno was really nice, it was the first time I really met him. I think I met him once at Indy when he drove the pace car for like 10 seconds. He took some time with us, made us feel comfortable, did a little rehearsal and even changed some jokes a little bit for me and added some things I thought were funnier and stuff. He told me that if I thought it sounded better like this, to go ahead and do it. I had a really fun time doing that. He was a really nice guy. It isn’t like that everywhere you go, everyone isn’t like that. That was really neat.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON TWITTER AND SOCIAL MEDIA WITH ALL THE ATTENTION ON BRAD KESELOWSKI TWEETING AT DAYTONA? “I thought that was neat that it worked out where Brad was able to do that honestly. I haven’t gotten to see the whole telecast yet. I saw the last 40 laps this morning, or whatever it was after the fire. That is all that was on my recorder in the motor home. I didn’t see the rest of the race and all that went on. I know it was entertaining for the fans and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I never knew we could carry our phones in the car, not that I am going to start, especially when you aren’t supposed to have communication with other drivers and all that any more. I am not sure about all that and having that in the car, but I think that certainly during a red flag when you have two hours off I don’t think there is anything wrong with tweeting and filling some air time and doing all that. They had a lot of air time to fill between Sunday pre-race and when we finally got the race over Tuesday morning. I thought it was neat.
DO YOU FEEL ANY ENCOURAGEMENT TO BE MORE ACTIVE ON TWITTER DUE TO SPONSORSHIP AND THEIR WANTING GUYS TO MAYBE BE MORE ACTIVE IN THAT? “I don’t know about that. I think certainly you look at what your sponsors like and what your team likes and more than that, what the fans like. Without the fans in the seats and watching on TV you aren’t going to have sponsors and then you aren’t going to have races either. I think that stuff is all really important, but with me, there has to be a line to where I don’t do it to the point it takes the focus off the racing. During the week or Saturday night if you are sitting in your motor home and not doing anything, there are a lot of good times for me where it doesn’t take my focus off racing where I can interact with them or tweet something that I think was funny or cool that I saw. Everyone is different but for me there are times, like in between practices and during the race that you won’t see me doing that. I don’t want to take any focus away from what I am trying to do at the race track.”
WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE RACE HERE LAST YEAR? “Well, we took away a wrecked car. I like the track. The backstretch is kinda weird but other than that I like the track. I think as it gets rubbered in and aged it is going to keep getting better. They did a tremendous job putting that rubber down. I am anxious to get on track in a little bit. We had a good race car and had some brake problems and then got wrecked. We didn’t get to finish how we wanted but we started really strong. I think we were on the pole and led some laps early and had a competitive car. I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing how it is.”
HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT MORE SPONSORSHIP SINCE WINNING THE 500? “I have not. I know that Steve and the sales department is working on it but I haven’t heard anything. I have been pretty busy all week. I talked to Best Buy’s CEO yesterday and he was really fired up and I talked to some of our other sponsors and they are all really excited. I have not heard of any other races being added but that would be a good question for Steve and the sales department. I know they are fielding a lot of calls and they have a lot of leads and are working on a lot of things but to my knowledge it is the same as it was last week.”
WHO HAD MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS IN THE LAST WEEK, YOU OR YOUR HAULER DRIVER? “Well, since a few years ago the hauler drivers get plenty of rest. That industry is very well regulated, which is should be, for safety. I know my hauler drivers have gotten plenty of sleep, whatever it is, eight on and eight off or whatever it is. I didn’t get much sleep on Tuesday morning. I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night but Wednesday night I slept okay and last night I slept great so I feel almost normal right now. That is good.”
WAS THERE ANYTHING ON THE TOUR THAT FLEW UNDER THE RADAR THAT STRUCK A CORD WITH YOU? SOMETHING YOU REALLY LIKED THAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT? “There isn’t really anything I did that I really didn’t enjoy or whatever. I went to the Mavericks game which was cool. I got to hang out with Eddie Gossage, who is a friend of mine and one of the best promoters in the sport. It is a great market and great area. I had a great time at the game and got to meet the coach and they gave me an autographed basketball from the championship team last year. Going to the Leno show was probably the highlight for me. That was fun. Going to San Francisco is always fun. I am going to get this wrong, the name of the restaurant, but that Gratto’s down there, the guy that owned it and his family story. It has been there since the early 1940’s or something like that in the same location. In L.A., going to that Pink’s hot dog stand, I didn’t know anything about that. I met that whole family and that family started that place in 1939, I believe, and it is in the same location with the same family and they keep passing it down. They are incredibly nice and it was a neat story about the place and all the famous stars from Hollywood that have eaten there. When I drove by I didn’t think much of it but then we got to meet the people and hear the stories behind the place and that was really neat.”