TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Matt Kenseth — Notes & Quotes
Dover International Speedway – May 31, 2013
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How has the season gone so far and are you looking forward to this weekend’s race at Dover?
“So far — so good. I’m looking forward to getting on the track this weekend. I’ve always really enjoyed coming to Dover. It’s a real challenging track and one that I always enjoy. So, I’m looking forward to getting the weekend started.”
What do you appreciate about the Dover track?
“I always liked it — that doesn’t mean that I’ve always done well or always do well here necessarily. It’s just a really unique track. We don’t really have any high bank, true, one-mile ovals — without doglegs and all that stuff. Being concrete and elevation changes — it’s one of them tracks that really challenges you even when you’re by yourself. Then when you get racing, everybody just makes it that much more difficult. It’s just one that since the first time I came here I really liked. It kind of fits my style. You can really attack it all day and I always enjoy that.”
How critical are the next two races — Dover and Pocono — on the schedule?
“Honestly, I’ve never had a lot of success at Pocono. The last few years, before they paved it, really can’t say it was one that I would really look forward to or really enjoyed. It was just always kind of a struggle. When they paved it last year, I can’t even recall where we finished either race to be honest with you. We performed better. I like the track better. It seems easier for me for some reason. The 20 won the spring race there last year. So, I’m looking forward to getting up there as well. Honestly, this year, the way the season’s been going and the way our cars have been performing — there’s not a track or a week that I haven’t looked forward to, and that still holds true. I’ve been enjoying every week. I’ve been looking forward to every week. Certainly, this is a week I’m looking forward to and next week is as well.”
Any regrets about the decision not to pit — which put you out of sync with the leaders — in last Sunday’s Charlotte race?
“No. Not at all. You know, really if you look at it wasn’t really that big a deal. It’s easy to look back and pick out one thing or whatever, but really we were still running second. We only lost — I think at the time — we were a second-and-a-half behind Kasey (Kahne) and we pitted and made up over a second that first lap we pitted, and he was on his way to pit road. It was just really an untimely caution for us. If the caution would have came out two laps later, all the guys that were racing with us that were on the lead lap basically, would have already pitted and everything would have been fine. That’s just part of racing. Sometimes you’re going to have things fall your way and sometimes you’re not.”
Has it been more important for you to adjust to your new team or the team to adjust to your style?
“I don’t know. I think that’s always a balancing act. I mean for as many different cars that we went through and teammates and theories and all that stuff — through all my years in racing, everything is not always the same. Even when Roush was really big you couldn’t really take five cars and set them up exactly the same and build them exactly the same and get the exact same results. Everybody has their things or the crew chief has their things that they like a little bit better, try a little bit different or whatever. Again, just looking forward and looking at what we’ve done this year and not going back further than that. The transition has obviously been pretty good. I think the key is to not change your approach and just keep digging and keeping working on it and keep trying to get better.”
What are the biggest challenges at Dover?
“The biggest challenge of this track here the last — I don’t know — the last handful of years at least is typically the track condition changing. This time it might not be quite as bad because the trucks have been on the track putting rubber (down) – but anyway the track is when it’s clean compared to when it ‘rubbers up’ is usually drastically different. That’s usually been the biggest challenge for me is getting something that drives good once the track is ‘rubbered up’ and being able to pass and have your car decent behind other cars to be able to get around them. It’s always a balance. You usually practice this morning and the track is real clean, and you do your last practice tomorrow and it’s all ‘rubbered up’ for the race makes it a little more challenging, especially when it’s hot out.”
How do you ‘keep cool’ under adverse conditions on the race track — similar to last year here at Dover?
“Things happen. There’s a lot of mechanical things in these cars. There’s a lot of human things. Last fall, we had a part break. They said it was fixed and obviously it wasn’t. We had it break again. That was a frustrating race for us. I think, you know, looking back I think we rebounded well from that. We had two out of three weeks that were a disaster going into the Chase with a shock falling off and a track bar breaking and falling off. All that stuff happened and still rebounded and came back and won a couple races and finished the year respectably. Things like that happen. Got to keep it in perspective and try to figure out how to fix things and move on to the next week.”
Does Dover favor veteran drivers?
“I think there’s been a few first-time winners here. Things just change a lot. So, even if you think you have the track figured out things change a lot with cars or teams or set-ups or somebody might have the hot hand for awhile. Like the 48’s (Jimmie Johnson) been almost unbeatable here it seems like for the last four or five years, unless they have a problem or you get them on pit strategy or something funny happens. I don’t know. You’d like to think that experience means something with all the race tracks that you go to. It’s kind of like anywhere else, you get the car right and you get the car faster than the rest of them and you make the right calls and do all that stuff and hopefully you’ll have a shot.”
How would you rank this track in difficulty compared to other tracks?
“I think that’s different for everybody. I think every driver has a track that’s easier for them and a track that’s harder for them — more challenging for them. This track is difficult because it’s fast and you can attack it and you’re always kind of on the edge and all that. But, it’s kind of the difficulty I enjoy. I seem to struggle more at the tracks you have to have more finesse and go slower to go fast and the flatter tracks and stuff. So, these are the kind of tracks I really enjoy — with a lot of banking where you can drive hard.”