Kenseth - Chicagoland Friday media visit

Ford Racing press release

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, enters the first race in the Chase as the fourth seed and looking for his second championship. Kenseth, who has two wins this season, talked about what it will take to get the Chase started on the right foot, with a victory, his comedy skills and more.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT STARTING OFF THE CHASE HERE IN CHICAGO, WHICH IS A DIFFERENT VENUE FOR US? “Yeah, I like starting here. In the past it has been one of our stronger tracks which doesn’t really mean anything for this weekend but it is nice to be here in Chicago and come to a different venue. I thought it was cool to do all the media stuff yesterday in the same city we are racing at and to kick off the Chase here. I am excited to get in the car here in a little bit.”

GOING BACK TO LAST SATURDAY NIGHT, HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY COMEDY SHOW OFFERS? YOU WERE GREAT IN THE MEDIA CENTER LAST WEEK. “Thanks. No, I haven’t gotten any job offers. Actually I didn’t think they would invite me back to the media center. That is why I asked to come in today because I didn’t think anybody would want me back after last week. Everybody was pretty grumpy last Saturday night.”

FOR 11 GUYS OUT THERE, THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO END A DYNASTY. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO BE THAT GUY? “I think 11 guys are thinking about it because they are in the Chase but I think in the beginning of the year you start thinking about that in the off season and going into the season to make the Chase and to win the championship. I think probably all of them would tell you that if they can’t win it then they don’t care who wins it because you want to be the one to win it. Certainly Jimmie and that team have proved the last five years that if you want to win a championship you have to go through them. That is the team that everybody looks at but I don’t get very caught up in that because you have to beat all 42 of the guys out there every week to get the most points and I think you have to run top-five every week to have a shot at the championship, regardless of what that one car does.”

WERE YOU AWARE THAT PAUL MENARD WAS LOOKING TO WRECK YOU AT RICHMOND? “Yes and no. I didn’t really get it all put together until last night when I saw some of his quotes. I tried a couple times to talk to him this week and we sort of connected. Earlier in the race, and I never even put all this together until last night, but earlier in the race I locked up a left front tire and ran into the 78 car and spun out Regan which was just a mistake. We were racing each other and I guess Paul was kind of on my right rear and I honestly didn’t realize he wrecked until later in the race from that incident. I don’t know because I haven’t talked to him again since I was laying in bed last night thinking about it and I didn’t realize the Chase things and he got wrecked in it and the 6 car was trying to make the Chase. I am not sure in his mind if he thought something like that was intentional to help a teammate get in, I have no idea to be honest with you. I didn’t know he wrecked originally because of that. I called Regan first thing because I spun him out and it was just a mistake I made and I tried calling and texting Paul and he texted me back last night finally. I felt bad that those guys got taken out because I was having a bad night anyway and the last thing I wanted to do was mess up anybody else's night. It was a mistake I made that caused that accident.”

SO YOU DID REACH OUT TO PAUL TO DISCUSS WHAT HAPPENED? “I did. I was actually going to go talk to him again because I didn’t realize the whole part about the Chase and maybe thinking that it was intentional or anything. I never even dreamed that either one of them would have thought it was intentional from me. On the other hand it was a mistake that I made and I wanted to apologize for messing up their nights.”

WHAT ABOUT HOW TEAMMATES CAN IMPACT THINGS AND HOW THAT MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY OUT IN THE CHASE? “With the wild car thing I didn’t think about it that much because I couldn’t keep track of what was all going on and we were locked in so I didn’t really look at it or read about it because it seemed like there were 20 numbers on the wall that could have made it. At the end of the day the two guys that were in made it and it didn’t end up mattering at the end of the day. I guess the possibility is there for things to happen during the Chase. I like to think that it doesn’t. I know for me in all the years I have been in it, I have never really seen anything necessarily different happen than you would normally see happen so you always try to help your teammates, you always try to maybe cut some of your friends a break and that type of thing. Hopefully that doesn’t change during the Chase. Hopefully that is the same a month ago as it is right now.”

YOU HAVE A REPUTATION AS A CLEAN DRIVER. DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET OUT IN FRONT OF THIS SO THERE WON’T BE ANY REPERCUSSIONS IN THE FINAL 10 RACES? “Well, I think you always try to do that whenever you have a conflict with someone or you make a mistake or even if you are mad and two people get into each other. I think any time you have conflict you try to resolve that, Chase or no Chase. I don’t think it matters. I don’t race any different whether I am in the Chase or not in the Chase and I don’t expect other people to race me different. The whole thing last week I didn’t really think about it or put it together until a little while ago. Paul is a buddy of mine. We have hung out before and he raced at RPM which was basically a teammate. We have flown around to places together, gone to appearances together, you feel bad when something happens to anybody, but especially someone you know that is a friend of yours. You try to work it out but not because it is the Chase and you are worried that something might happen to you in the Chase. You would do that anyway, no matter when it was.”

ARE YOU CONFIDENT THIS IS BEHIND YOU WITH BOTH THE 78 AND THE 27? “I hope so because it was a mistake. It would be like you going out into the parking lot and backing into somebody’s car. You didn’t do it on purpose. It wasn’t like we were having a feud and somebody got wrecked. It wasn’t like that. It was a handling problem I was having with my car and I lost track of where it was and did something uncharacteristic of us and made a mistake that got somebody spun out. I think everybody probably realizes that it was an accident.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chicago, ford, kenseth, sprint cup