Kenseth looking for Lady Luck in Las Vegas

Kenseth looking for Lady Luck in Las Vegas

Matt Kenseth really doesn't see Las Vegas as a gamble at all. Despite the glamour and glitz of the casino strip, Kenseth is far more focused on the mile and a half of asphalt that makes up Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It's there that Kenseth has ...

Matt Kenseth really doesn't see Las Vegas as a gamble at all.

Despite the glamour and glitz of the casino strip, Kenseth is far more focused on the mile and a half of asphalt that makes up Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It's there that Kenseth has found his payday, winning back to back races in 2003 and 2004.

Matt Kenseth.
Photo by Getty Images.
Kenseth leads a Roush Racing contingent that has dominated in the desert. Mark Martin won the inaugural event there in 1998 and Jeff Burton grabbed the checkers in 1999 and 2000 while driving for Roush.

After winning in California two weeks ago, Kenseth is determined to follow up with another strong finish in Las Vegas in the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 on Sunday (4:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX).

During the off-season, Kenseth's #17 DeWalt team went through some personnel changes and the driver is happy to see that the group has come together quickly. They have three new over-the-wall guys and Kenseth is also adjusting to working with new spotter Bob Jeffery.

"We have three or four new people in the group and a person or two that moved up in positions and advanced, so it's a real exciting group," Kenseth said. "Some of the new guys coming in were real young and got a lot of energy. A lot of them in California - that was their first Cup win, first time ever in victory lane - and that really gets everybody fired up and excited."

Kenseth has watched the group work under crew chief Robbie Reiser and is impressed with their efforts so far.

"They've been working really hard," Kenseth praised. "They've all had really good attitudes all winter and really worked hard on the cars, and their efforts the first two weeks have really paid off."

Kenseth feels that the personnel changes have brought a new level of enthusiasm that has contributed to his strong start. He is third in the point standings behind Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears after two races. At this point last year, Kenseth was 36th.

Victory lane: race winner Matt Kenseth celebrates.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
"I think that when everybody is enthused and working hard and in a good mood, it definitely helps your performance," Kenseth said. "It's a real exciting group right now."

Focused on the task at hand, Kenseth is looking for another strong run at Las Vegas. Last year, he finished eighth despite fighting an ill-handling car throughout most of the race.

"You know, to win at Vegas you just got to have a car that turns really good and you have to get good traction off the corners," said Kenseth, whose average career finish at Las Vegas is second only to Jimmie Johnson. "As the pavement ages, you've got to be able to turn really good, but then you've got to worry about the back tires at the same time because the track gets really slippery. You can get it too loose to where it wants to spin the tires off the corners. You've got to keep it turning good and keep the back end under you off the corners."

To ensure that they don't run into the same -up problems as last year, Reiser is bringing the car that Kenseth won with in California two weeks ago. They also tested at Las Vegas in January to get ready for this weekend.

"We've been fortunate enough to have really good racecars whenever we unload at Vegas over the years and I really don't expect this weekend to be any different," said Reiser, who has been with Kenseth since his Cup series debut seven years ago. "The guys do a great job setting these cars up. Obviously, at this point it's too early to tell how the weekend will go, but we've got some momentum and we're coming to a track where we've enjoyed some success in recent years. We're coming in with high expectations."

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