Daytona 500: Matt Kenseth preview

FAST FACTS * Matt Kenseth enters 2008 coming off a fourth-place points finish in the 2007 Cup Series that included two wins and a season ending five consecutive top-five finishes which culminated with a win in the season finale, Ford 400. *...

FAST FACTS

* Matt Kenseth enters 2008 coming off a fourth-place points finish in the 2007 Cup Series that included two wins and a season ending five consecutive top-five finishes which culminated with a win in the season finale, Ford 400.

* The 2008 version of the "Killer Bees" (the over-the-wall crew) welcomes a new, but familiar face, front-tire carrier Garret Reding, who's been with the team since 2005. Of the 23 race-day crew members on the No. 17 team, 19 returned from 2007.

* Kenseth has three top fives and six top-10 finishes in the past 10 restrictor-plate races.

* Kenseth finished fifth last year in his respective race in the Gatorade Duel, marking the fourth straight season he has finished sixth or better.

* Kenseth will pilot the No. 17 Ritz Crackers Ford Fusion, Saturday, Feb. 16 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Camping World 300.

Kenseth on racing at Daytona International Speedway:
"Obviously, the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year. I think as anybody growing up being a stock-car racing fan or especially aspiring to be a driver; the Daytona 500 is the biggest race. That's what you dream about as a kid, so the 50th running is obviously probably going to be the biggest Daytona 500 there's been and hopefully we'll have a chance at it.

"I'm looking forward to this season. We've got some changes, but not a lot. Our core group of guys is still in place. Chip (Bolin) is the crew chief now and we've worked together for nine years and if we can't communicate by now, we've got a major problem. We've been working together for a long time and he's been a very, very huge piece of the 17 team since its inception. Chip actually did the 500 last year, and the next three races, so he's kind of ready for it.

"It's going to be good to get back to the track this weekend and start racing again. We've done a lot work this off season and tested a lot over the past two months, so we should be ready for the season and we'll see how well our preparation pays off in the next few weeks."

Crew Chief Chip Bolin on racing at Daytona International Speedway:
"The difference between last year, when I filled in for Robbie, and this year is that last year I didn't have time to get nervous. This year, it's my responsibility to do the prep work to make sure everything is loaded on the truck that we may need and that the cars are ready and that this team is ready to go to Daytona. Before, I just worried about the car.

"Calling a super-speedway race is pretty easy by comparison to other tracks, because there's not a lot of strategy involved. You pit when everyone else pits. We're fortunate enough to have four more team cars to where everyone gets pretty close to the same fuel mileage and we have enough cars that we can all pit together if necessary. We'll usually pit with teammates, or at least the ones we're running around.

"Daytona is a lot different than Talladega although both are often compared to one another. At Talladega, you just focus on getting the car trimmed down to the least drag configuration and don't worry much about handling. But, Daytona has bumps and different grooves and there's much more suspension travel, so you have to treat your setup a lot like you would on intermediate tracks."

-credit: rfr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth