Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, has already clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As the series heads to Richmond International Raceway for the final event to determine the Chase field, Kenseth has two victories and is looking for one more to increase his bonus point total going into the final 10 events. He spoke about this weekend’s race and whether or not gambling is in his future.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL THERE? “I can try. We havne’t been real successful there. Lately, it seems like you’ve got to have really good traction off the corner, like most short tracks, but it’s been really slick the last two times we’ve been there. It’s hard to get the gas down and it’s easy to spin, but at the same time it’s hard to get the bite you need off the corner and still get turned in the middle. It’s been a tricky place to hit that balance just right where you can still get through the middle of the corner with reasonable enough speed but have enough traction to get off the corner where you can drive up alongside of people to pass.”
WHAT MAKES IT FUN AND CHALLENGING? “It’s about the right size. It’s three-quarters of a mile, so we still get going pretty fast, but it acts like a short track. You need a lot of brakes. The pavement is getting real worn out and slick and whenever you get a worn out track like Atlanta, Michigan or Phoenix before they paved it, I think it just creates so much better racing. I think it’s more fun to drive. The tires drop off a lot more. New tires are a big advantage, so that creates passing. I just think it makes better racing as the tracks get older.”
STRATEGY GOING INTO THE FINAL RACE? “It’s really the same as any other race. We won’t do anything different. Fortunately, we don’t have the stress of being on the bubble and wondering if we’re gonna make it or not make it, which is nice. But all of these races are big races. You want to run good in every race. You want to have some momentum and feel good about things rolling into the Chase, so it’s not really gonna be much different.”
WOULD YOU GAMBLE AND RISK A 30TH-PLACE FINISH TO WIN AND GET THOSE BONUS POINTS? “If the situation called for it. The only time you can really do something like that is fuel mileage and the cautions have to fall just right for that. If you got in some weird situation and fuel mileage or you might try a different pit call to try to do that, but, other than that, I don’t think you’re gonna do anything a lot different. Every week we call the race to try to get the best finish we can. That doesn’t really change. If the cautions fell right and it was a really unique circumstance, I suppose you would try to stretch and go for the win, even if it doesn’t look like you can make it on fuel or something like that, but, other than that, it’s gonna be the same.”