Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings and trails leader Carl Edwards by 26 points. Kenseth, who is one of five drivers with two or more NSCS wins this season, spoke about the race this weekend at Watkins Glen before practice.
HOW DO YOU LIKE WATKINS GLEN? “I like Watkins Glen a lot. Everybody always lumps the two road courses together, but they’re really totally different so I enjoy racing here. The challenge that comes with it is that it drives a lot different than Sears Point. It drives more like a big track and is usually a little less crazy than Sears Point, a little less bumper cars because there’s a bit more room to move around and pass, so I always look forward to it.”
DO YOU THINK A ROAD COURSE SHOULD BE IN THE CHASE? “There are only two road courses throughout the year, and that’s less than 10 percent of what we do, so I don’t think it does. I don’t think, if you asked somebody what they think about NASCAR racing, I don’t think road courses would be near the top of their list. I don’t think that’s really what we do every week. It’s kind of a novelty and it’s fun to come and do because it’s something different and changes the pace up, but I don’t think it really needs to be in the Chase, but that’s just my opinion.”
HOW ARE THE TWO ROAD COURSES DIFFERENT? “Sears Point reminds me of Martinsville and Watkins Glen reminds me of Michigan. It’s just totally different. It’s a lot faster at Watkins Glen, a lot more momentum and a lot more room to move around and pass. It’s just a lot different track.”
ARE THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS MORE TO YOUR LIKING? “I enjoy racing up here. I enjoy this track, but I think I’m probably a little better at a place like Michigan. Michigan is more like what we do every week. It’s a track that’s always been pretty good for us over the years, so that’s one I look forward to probably more just because I feel like I can contribute more there than I do at a road course.”
HOW IS YOUR TEAM SET UP FOR THE CHASE? “If I look at an average of the last five weeks, I don’t feel like we’re probably in quite as good a shape as far as performance and finishes that we were maybe the five weeks previous to that. We know we need to pick up our performance a little bit on the race track and on pit road. I think we need to pick it up a little bit to be a serious contender down the stretch, but we’re in pretty good shape in the points right now. Hopefully, we get a couple more solid finishes to get in the Chase and, at the same time, elevate our performance a little bit.”
ARE THE ROAD COURSE RACES MORE LIKE WILD CARD RACES THAT ANYONE CAN WIN? “Really, there have been a lot of races like that this year. I don’t think anybody can win at these places. Strategy plays a big role and fuel mileage and it’s been that way at a lot of places here lately, but certainly I think there’s a little bit of a special skill set to do really well at these places, but I will say that the cars are closer to the same and it seems like everybody is getting a little bit better at it throughout the years.” WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE ON THE FINAL RESTART HERE? “I think you obviously want to be in the lead. You want to lead pretty much everywhere on the final restart, even the plate races now with the two-car drafts.”
WHICH LANE WOULD YOU CHOOSE? “Heck, I don’t know. I’ve never been close enough to lead here to worry about that (laughing). I’ll see what everybody else does first. You probably want to be on the bottom because people always out-brake you there, but I don’t know if it matters a lot. Turn one is pretty wide.”