Darlington Raceway 500
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Wiley X Ford Fusion, is ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings going into this weekend’s Southern 500. Kenseth held a Q&A session in front of his team hauler before Friday’s NSCS practice session.
CAN YOU WIN THIS RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? “I don’t know. The condensed schedule is always a challenge, especially when you only come to a place once a year with a different tire and all that stuff, so I really don’t have any idea what we’ve got until we get on the track.”
DID YOU WATCH THE TRUCK RACE OR MONITOR NATIONWIDE PRACTICE AND USE THAT AS ANOTHER TOOL TO TRY AND GET A STARTING POINT? “Hopefully we have a starting point by now, but you should be able to pay attention to at least the Nationwide practice with our cars over there and see if there’s anything they stumble on that the tire likes.”
DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS TRACK ANY DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE OF HOW DIFFERENT IT IS? “You don’t prepare differently, but certainly every track is unique and you approach and attack every track different. It’s a lot different than it used to be. This car is quite a bit more forgiving, if you bang the right side a little bit, but you still have to have a lot of respect for this track. It’s 500 miles and an extremely long race, so you still need to approach it like that and stay on the lead lap and try to adjust your car throughout the night.”
ARE YOU EXPECTING THE LAST FEW RACES BEFORE THE CHASE TO BE DIFFERENT AS DRIVERS TRY TO GET WINS AND THOSE WILD CARD SPOTS? “It’s hard for me to look 20 races down the road right now, but every week everybody out there is trying to get a win. I don’t know that it will really change a lot. I think the driving is always aggressive. I think everybody is out there always trying to put their best foot forward and trying to win. Every point system I’ve ever raced under the winner gets the most points and second gets the second-most points and so on, so you always want to get the best you can out of it.”
THE IDEA BEING IF YOU GET A FEW WINS YOU MIGHT GET IN WITH THE WILD CARD, SO GUYS MIGHT TRY SOME THINGS. “Yeah, maybe strategy-wise or something like that, but I like the idea of the wild card. I think that’s a good idea, but, except for maybe a very rare circumstance, I don’t think it’s gonna change the winner, it’s just gonna change the winner’s points.”
It’s a very unique size and shape with the banking and just the way it’s laid out there is really nothing on the circuit you can compare it to.
WITH THE NEW POINT SYSTEM IS IT HARDER IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 TO GET IN THAN IT WAS WITH THE OLD SYSTEM? “It depends how many points you’re behind and what the guys in front of you do just like always. I don’t think it’s harder to get in if you’re out depending on how many points there are, but if you do have a real bad finish it drags you down in the points real fast. If you have a few of them, it’s gonna be harder to come back from that, I think.”
DO YOU LOOK AT THE NEXT THREE TRACKS – DOVER, CHARLOTTE AND KANSAS – ANY DIFFERENTLY KNOWING THEY’RE IN THE CHASE LATER IN THE YEAR? “No, because really we’ve got to get to the chase first. After the two speedway races and even last week being in a wreck again, yeah, we’re in the top 10 in points right now but not very comfortably. I’ve gotten us pretty far behind in the points, so you look to each track as an opportunity to try to win, try to get as many points as you can, and you always put your best foot forward. If you happen to run good that week, hopefully it will help you if you get to the chase to use some of that information, but I don’t think about the chase at all or prepare for that right now. A lot of things will change in the next five months until we get there.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL THERE? “Dover is a really unique track. You’ve got to have the car turning good there, like every track, but you also have to have a certain amount of security. It’s a real fast, high-banked, bumpy track being concrete. It’s not a real forgiving track. It’s always been my favorite. I always look forward to going there and look forward to the challenge.”
MATT KENSETH CONTINUED -- IS YOUR DRIVING STYLE ANY DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT’S CONCRETE? “That’s kind of hard to answer because it’s so different. Even if it was black top, it’s such a different track compared to any other track we go to. It’s a very unique size and shape with the banking and just the way it’s laid out there is really nothing on the circuit you can compare it to.”
DO YOU GET A CHANCE TO CATCH YOUR BREATH AT ALL, LIKE ON THE BACK STRAIGHTAWAY? “The banking on the straightaway doesn’t really bother you on the straightaway, unless you get in a wreck. Obviously, it funnels everybody to the bottom if you get in a wreck and you usually hit the inside wall, but if you don’t get in a wreck, you don’t probably notice the banked straightaways that much.”
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