Toyota NSCS Darlington Notes & Quotes – Matt Kenseth

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Matt Kenseth — Notes & Quotes
Darlington Raceway – May 10, 2013

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How did you react to the reduction in penalties?
“Obviously, you never want to have a penalty.  You hope not to have yourself in that position.  That, I think, is the main point for us to take away is to make sure us and JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and our partners and everything — we’ve got it all worked out where you don’t have something like that ever happen again so you’re not in that spot.  Obviously, I’m happy that it got reduced.  The penalties were pretty crushing before they got them reduced, so I think, really applaud NASCAR for having the appeals process and putting that in place to have some people look at after the dust settles a little bit.  Be objective, look at all the facts and make a decision.  We’ve seen some increased, some reduced and some kept the same through the past.  I feel like they did a nice job of looking at all the facts, the circumstances and everything that went with it and made a decision there.”

Do you feel vindicated?
“I don’t know about vindicated.  I still feel bad we were in that spot to start with to even have a penalty, to even really put NASCAR in that position to have to react and to do something.  That’s really your goal is to never be in that spot.  Certainly, I think these penalties are way more in line with what I initially thought that it would be compared to things that had happened in the past and things like that.  I thought this was closer to what I thought it was going to be to start with.”

American Muscle

Do the recent reductions by the appeals panel send a message to NASCAR?
“I don’t know.  I can’t really comment on anybody else’s situation except for ours because I honestly, really don’t know enough about the whole thing that Penske (Racing) went through.  I really don’t — I’ve never seen a piece or the parts, I haven’t read the rule book, I just don’t really know enough about it, so I don’t know.  I don’t know that it’s so much a message.  I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence you had two things going on right there at once that were both fairly major, but yet they were very different in nature.  There was the car stuff and joint engineering to do all that stuff was a lot different than what we had happen.  So, like I said the biggest thing I take away from it is I’m glad it’s behind us, I’m glad we’re done appealing it and we can move forward and hopefully make sure we’re never in this spot again.  In 22 years that Joe Gibbs (team owner) has been in NASCAR racing, it’s the first appeal he’s ever had.  Hopefully, he can go another 22 without being
in that spot.”

Are you relieved that your crew chief will only miss one race?
“I think that will be a huge difference.  I’ve got a really, really strong race team over there.  I feel good about everybody and the jobs they do, but certainly Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is the guy that makes it happen.  I told him when it all happened I don’t think I can get along without him, so I’ll miss him tonight and tomorrow and get through the day, although I think they’re really prepared, really ready for this because they kind of was thinking it was probably coming, but I’ll be really thankful I have him back next week.”

How should NASCAR look at these situations in the future?
“Yeah, I mean you’ve got to look at every case differently I guess.  But yet, I understand you’ve got to react to it if it’s not right and certainly the piece was certainly a question about it being right or not.  But, I think that there’s certainly a — I’m 100 percent confident there’s absolutely no performance advantage, so I feel good that we got our points back for the Chase if we hopefully make it in and got our bonus points back — got the pole back, but I guess it doesn’t really matter as much. I’m happy that we got all that stuff back, so I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome and yes, the points for the Chase and the bonus points are important.”

Are you pleased that both your wins now count towards the Chase?
“Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely because you never know what will happen and even with the penalty we had before they gave us the points back — I mean, man, you’re still right on the bubble if you have a wreck at Talladega or a broken part or something happen, you could easily be out of the Chase, so certainly that — that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be in, but certainly it helps your chances.”

Will it be difficult to work with a new crew chief?
“I don’t know.  I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve known Wally (Brown, interim crew chief) for a really long time.  He was over at RFR (Roush Fenway Racing) for a long time running the engineering department and he’s been at (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) for a long time, so they all know him well.  That will be a good guy to fill in this weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting over there, getting on the track and, like I said, getting this all behind us.”

Who is responsible in a situation like this?
“Well, whatever that we present to put on that race track has to be right.  It doesn’t matter where the parts and pieces come from.  It doesn’t matter who put them together.  It has to be right and at the end of the day somebody’s got to be responsible for that car being right, so I totally understand all that.  As far as looking at penalties, I think they’ve always tried to be pretty consistent and it seems like at times maybe you don’t agree with things one way or another, but it’s their job to police the garage, make sure everybody’s on an even playing field, make sure everybody has the same chance to go out there and compete and win and I think they do the best they can to police that.”

Is it fair that Toyota was penalized in all this?
“I don’t really have any comment on what’s fair or unfair.  I’m not the one, I guess, to really say that as far as the manufacturer, what that all is.  Like I said, it’s our responsibility to make sure everything is right in the car and you got to work with your — if there is a part that you don’t know nothing about and you can’t get in, look at it, make sure it’s right, you’ve just got to make sure you work with the people that do put that stuff together to make sure that there is a process for that to happen.  I’m pretty confident that’s not going to happen again.”

Did you think the penalties would be reduced on Wednesday?
“You know, for some reason I had a pretty good feeling about Wednesday.  I didn’t know that it would come back to be exactly what it was.  I didn’t know if we would’ve got reductions that much, but I felt more confident than any other appeal that I’ve ever heard about that we were going to get a reduction.  So, there was a lot of — I think we had a pretty good case. We had some stuff from history, different things that have happened where I felt like it would probably get reduced.  I think the whole industry I felt like thought that it was a huge penalty.  I think everybody was in shock when the penalties got handed out to start with so I felt pretty good that they were going to get reduced but I didn’t really know how far.”

What will be the hardest part this weekend with Jason Ratcliff’s suspension?
“Well, just Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) does a lot of it.  There’s a time where maybe the driver fixes a lot of parts and pieces and what he wants and stuff, but Jason and I seem to have a really, really good connection so him not being there it will be different, but it is a really short schedule.  I know they’ve worked really, really hard this week to make sure they had a plan in place.  Wally (Brown, interim crew chief) is working real hard.  Obviously, Wally knows what he’s doing so I think it will be okay.  Jason is at the shop and I know he’s got the computer hooked up and he’ll look at our stuff after practice and go through all of our changes and comments, and I’m sure I will talk to him tonight so I think it will be alright.”

Did NASCAR lose any power this week?
“I don’t think so.  I think if they were worried about losing power they probably wouldn’t have an appeals process.  They were the ones we set all of this up and this is exactly what they set it up for.  For this, or like I said there’s been some that have been increased as well that they’ve got done with and the appeals board has been like, ‘Man, that needs to be increased.’ So, I mean, I think that’s why they set it up and you really got to hand it to them for setting it up because they know that when you elicit that there’s a chance that something like this might happen.  So, I mean, I think it’s over and we have feelings and NASCAR is in the garage with us every week with Toyota and with all of the teams and they probably have certain feelings about things.  So, I think it’s good if one party or the other doesn’t feel like it’s right that you can bring it to a third party and make them look at everything a couple of weeks later and make a decision from there.”

Were you surprised when you heard the result of the appeal on Wednesday?
“Yeah, I mean I was pleasantly surprised it was reduced that much.  J.D. (Gibbs, team president) just kept — I was actually out of the country, so J.D. kept texting me and the texts kept getting longer and longer and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.  They did what?  And they gave us that back?’  So, I felt good about that especially getting Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) back.  The two biggest things I think was the owner’s — pulling the owner’s card for six weeks and that was the biggest one.  And, then Jason being gone.  Then, of course the rest of the stuff that went with it made us feel good.  Like I said, we still feel bad there was a penalty and we put NASCAR in a spot to have to react to start with.  That’s the main thing I keep taking away from it, is making sure that we’re not in the spot again.”

Do you know why the appeal’s panel overturned the penalties?
“I haven’t talked to them guys about what went on in there yet.  I haven’t even seen them.  I just got back yesterday and really haven’t had a chance, but like I said I felt as good as I could possibly feel about it.  I saw a lot of the stuff and knew a lot of the stuff that we were going to talk about and show them and stuff.  If they would’ve upheld all of the penalties, I would’ve been way more shocked than what I was when I got the news with all of the things that I knew.  I feel like they really did a good job of looking at all of the facts.  I feel like they got it right.”

Will it be good for the depth of your team to have another crew chief this weekend?
“There’s nothing good about Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) sitting at home this weekend.”

How will your role change with a different crew chief this weekend?
“I honestly don’t really think it changes at all.  I really don’t.  Most of the group is there — Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is gone.  Wally (Brown, interim crew chief) has been around the sport forever.  He’s been a crew chief for different people.  He’s been a head engineer.  He’s been an engineer of a team.  He’s got enough help up there and between the other couple of crew chiefs and our engineers and all of that stuff, he will be able to figure out when to pit and when not to pit and work through our adjustments and all of that stuff so I don’t really think it changes much.”

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