MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Does this new Chase format change the dynamic of this race?
“It probably changes the dynamic of the race somewhat I guess. There are usually only a few that have a realistic shot — now we have eight people that are tied again so certainly I think that’s a lot different. It feels a lot different coming here being tied up. If you’re not having a super great year like we had last year so it definitely changes it. It will change again at Homestead too.”
Do you expect all eight Chase drivers to leave their tempers at the door for this race?
“I don’t think it’s any greater or lesser than any other time. It seems typically the fall race has more cautions and more stuff going on. I think it’s one of those tracks that you start the race and I don’t think anybody ever has that intention, but it is a track certainly where it’s easy to let your temper get the best of you or not be as patient as you should or that type of thing, especially if things aren’t going your way and your car isn’t driving good and somebody runs into you and all that kind of stuff. I think this track always lends itself to that no matter what the situation is. I think whenever anybody comes here if they want to — probably every guy in the field could think back far enough and find something they weren’t happy about with somebody if they want to.”
Have more drivers become competitive at Martinsville with the new rules package?
“For me, I definitely ran much better here since I got to JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) than I used to run here. That was a big boost for me. I think this rules package, it’s hard to say. In the spring it was such a unique situation — that tire, we had so many problems with it. It didn’t stick any rubber to the track and the outside was full of marbles so it really depended on where you restarted. The spring race was really different compared to what I think you’re going to see this time around. I think this will be more like 2013. I feel like there are those few guys that are still probably the favorites — the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), the 24 (Jeff Gordon), Denny (Hamlin) is always really good here and then whoever is running good this year you’re going to have to look at. When you have a year where you run really good like the 2 (Brad Keselowski) or the 22 (Joey Logano) or the 4 (Kevin Harvick) — those guys will probably run good as well because they’ve been running good everywhere.”
How special would it be to win at Martinsville?
“To be able to win at Martinsville for, especially the way it was my first however many years coming up here would definitely be a career highlight. Honestly, which none of us is this lucky, but if you got handed a menu before the season started, winning a race at Martinsville would be in my top-two or three wishes for sure. That would certainly be a career highlight. I haven’t been real close to winning here expect for last fall — we had a pretty good shot, we just had too long of a run at the end there and Jeff (Gordon) got by me. Certainly that’s something I want to do.”
What makes Martinsville so challenging?
“Just everything about it makes it challenging. You have to have the car turning good, your car has to do everything right. It’s not a track where you can do much extra to make it go fast. I don’t know, it’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer. Just a technical, slow race track and the car has to do everything right and you have to be really patient and try to do everything right as a driver at the same time.”
What are Ross Kenseth’s plans the rest of this season and next year?
“The next few weeks he’s (Ross Kenseth) is getting ready for the Snowball Derby — that’s the last big Late Model race of the year. That’s all he’s got planned for the rest of this season. As far as next year, he’s out working hard trying to find an opportunity. It’s hard to find opportunities to move up and get in the Truck Series or Nationwide Series or really even many ARCA races. It’s different than what it was at one time so he’s out working hard trying to make it happen.”