Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, holds the 12th and final transfer position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings going into this Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway. The Top 12 drivers after the...
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, holds the 12th and final transfer position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings going into this Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway. The Top 12 drivers after the event will qualify for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kenseth, who is one of only two drivers to make every chase field to date, recently gave his thoughts on racing at RIR.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND? "I love going to Richmond. I've never heard anybody say they don't like going to Richmond - fans, drivers and teams alike. It's a great short track. It's probably one of the best short tracks that we go to because you can run side-by-side on it and it drives like a little speedway. All of the fans are real close to the action and it's a really fun track. It's hard to do much better than Richmond."
YOU'VE SAID BEFORE THAT EVEN IF YOU MAKE THE CHASE YOU WANT TO BE COMPETITIVE TO COMPETE FOR THE TITLE. COULD IT BENEFIT YOU GUYS NOT TO MAKE THE CHASE THIS YEAR? "We want to make it for sure and whether we make it or don't make it, I don't think our strategy is any different from Loudon to the end of the year. I think our strategy is exactly the same, to be honest with you. I have said that in the past and, right now too, we're probably not running good enough to make it. We're barely running good enough to make it if everything goes right, but the main thing that's hurt us this year is we haven't finished as good or better than what we've been running. We've usually finished more times than not worse than what we've performed, which is never good for the points situation, so we hope we make it in and we hope we finish as high as we can in the points. I don't feel like we're in championship form right now even if we do get in, but, certainly, we keep working on it as hard as we can and you never know when you're gonna stumble across something and get your stuff more competitive that might get you back up toward the front in contention."
SO EVEN IF YOU MAKE IT, THAT DOESN'T HINDER YOU IN TRYING THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT IF YOU DIDN'T MAKE IT? "I think if you look at the chase every year, if you want to be realistic, I think almost everybody could look at the chase field when they make it and probably pick out anywhere from four to six cars that you know aren't gonna have a chance at winning the championship. That's just life. That's just reality. There are probably five or six guys when you get in there that have a realistic shot and when you get about four or five races in, you can probably eliminate a couple of them, so there are usually only a few guys that run good enough every year and that's just the way it is. You want to make the chase and you want to get yourself improved and you want to run competitive and hopefully get back up to winning form. Hopefully, if you can do everything exactly perfect and maybe stumble on a few things to get your cars running better, maybe you will have a shot."
DO YOU THINK DRIVERS RACE MORE CONSERVATIVELY IN THE CHASE AND WAIT FOR OTHERS TO HAVE TROUBLE? "I have a way different opinion on that than most of the media does. The guys that are racing for the championship don't race more conservatively. It's impossible. There's way too much competition. I raced as hard as I could at Bristol and finished 10th and we had a really good day. I mean, it's hard. Including Jimmie, there's nobody that can race conservatively and win the championship. Maybe if you're in the last race and you've got 100-point cushion or something like that you can race conservatively, but, other than that, these guys are all out there racing as hard as they can every week for wins and that's not gonna change. Whether you're first in points or last in points, you're gonna go out there and finish as high as you possibly can and do the best you can each and every week."
DOES THAT GO FOR SETUPS TOO? "Yeah. There's really not much you do different these days. Everybody thought we were being conservative the year we won the championship, but the only thing we would possibly do different is maybe tune on our engine and the gear - back then you could select your own gear - you'd try to make sure your stuff didn't break, but, other than that, you do everything the same."
DO YOU FEEL 10 POINTS IS ENOUGH AS A BONUS FOR THE CHASE WHEN YOU WIN A RACE? "I think it's pretty good the way it is. Honestly, you could look at a different situation every year and come up with something. You could say, 'They need to change this or this paid too much or that didn't pay enough.' You could analyze that every year because every year is gonna be different. Some years it's gonna be real close all the way through there and other years somebody might run away with it. You could constantly change it about every year, but the circumstances aren't the same."