TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Matt Kenseth – Notes & Quotes
Bristol Motor Speedway – August 21, 2015
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are the chances your team can notch another victory this weekend at Bristol?
“One in 43. It’s been a good track for us. I always like coming up here at Bristol. I feel like since I’ve got to JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) it’s been one of the better tracks I think as a company. Carl (Edwards) had a good test a couple weeks ago so looking forward to getting on track today and seeing how we stack up, work as hard as we can today and hopefully have a good qualifying run tonight and have it where we need it tomorrow.”
How expansive is your knowledge and notebook with the success you and your teammates have had at Bristol?
“I feel like when I look at my teammates they don’t really have any weak tracks really when I look at those guys and really think about it. So, I mean that always helps and always makes you better but every week is different. Every time you come back to a track it seems like it has a different set of challenges and things — certainly changed from April to August. But, yeah, overall it’s been a good track off and on for all of us so hopefully all of the cars will run good today and tomorrow and one of us will have a shot.”
How much do you expect your setup to be different this weekend compared to the race in April?
“I know we’re starting a lot different because we wanted to try some different things after April. I expect the track to be a lot different from qualifying all the way to the race. That’s one of the challenges here. In the spring it was pretty cold and I think it was rainy even for qualifying day and we all qualified on the bottom. I don’t expect it to be like that this time. I expect everybody to qualify in the middle to the top. And, that’s always a challenge because you’ve got to know your car is quite a bit different from the bottom to the top and then you kind of have to setup for that. Typically the track is a lot different. If the weather forecast is right and it stays nice out from here all the way through the race I think it’s going to be a lot different than it was in the spring and we’re going to have to be ready for that and be setup for that and adapt your driving schedule and everything else to go along with that.”
Who was the most instrumental person early in your career who helped you to get where you are now?
“Well, man, that would be a long story if you’re going to list everybody but I always think that every rung in the ladder is equally as important. Without any one of those you’re not going to get to the top of the ladder. You don’t skip one, you climb on all of them. I’ve had a lot of great people throughout my career that have helped me a lot. Some people more than others. It’s hard to grade them because without any of them you wouldn’t be here. But, certainly my dad – I would’ve never got into racing without my dad. A lot of people helped me at a local level. A lot of different car owners helped me move up and drive stuff that me and my dad couldn’t afford to build and race. And certainly having success that those levels helped me to get the opportunity to move up. So, like I say, there’s a lot of people along the way that helped and in a way they’re all equally as important without any one of them I probably would’ve never made it.”
Is there a reason that Joe Gibbs Racing shouldn’t be the favorite team at the end of the Chase?
“You know, I don’t think you sit here in the middle of August and pick favorites for the Chase. I know we’re only a month away or so but when you’re on a roll it’s fun and you have to enjoy it because they never last forever and you don’t know how long they’re going to last. So, I think you just try to keep working at the same pace and keep trying to get better whether we’re behind right now or catching up or ahead or the same or what have you I think you’ve got to keep working at it. So, there’s been a lot of really unique, different race tracks that we’ve been to the last couple months. A few different aerodynamic packages. So there’s been some moving targets there. When you get in the Chase obviously everybody knows what the rules are and what the tracks are coming up and everything so hopefully we have everything where we need it in September coming up here.”
Can you analyze the difference in each of the three seasons you’ve been at Joe Gibbs Racing?
“I think as an organization last year was a down year. I don’t think there’s one reason for that. There never really is although when people start running good or start running bad everybody especially when they get panicked always tries to find one thing to either give the credit or blame it on. But, really it’s a combination of a lot of little things and we just got ourselves behind and feel like certainly we’re catching up now. There’s a lot of areas I feel like we’re doing a much better job in than what we did last year and we were just – like I said there’s several reasons for it. We were just behind and had an off year. It’s kind of the way this sport is. If you’re really fortunate you drive for really great teams like I do and you have some times that are really, really good but you’re also going to have some times where you’re behind and you’re trying to get caught up and figuring out what you’re missing and why and how you correct that. It’s just kind of the way it goes.”
Can you explain the difference between the two lines on the restart and how much more of an advantage it is to be on the outside and what you have to do if you’re on the inside to counter that?
“I think the inside is a lot better and I think everybody that gets a choice should pick the inside. The biggest thing here is it’s not so much when you get to the corner, it’s just getting rolling in that restart zone. There’s just a lot more – I mean when you get to the corner too but mainly just getting rolling there’s just a lot less straight line grip on the bottom. There’s less rubber there because less people run, there’s less banking there the way they built the track as a dish. There’s a lot of reasons but it just seems like it’s hard to get rolling from the bottom groove. Just got a lot more tire spin. That’s the biggest problem. When you get to the corner you can, the outside is a lot better especially in the summer race. A lot better with the track being warm and all the rubber that gets up there. It’s just tougher to get rolling, plus the guy on the outside has all of the advantage. He gets to pick when he goes and the inside guy when you get to these smaller tracks and stuff, he’s watching that outside guy and you can’t beat him outside of the zone so you’re always a split second later getting to the gas. With these tall gears and stuff you run at these kind of places they just get way pretty quick.”
Do you need to have another Toyota organization running cars next year and does it matter to you who it is?
“I don’t know. That’d be a better question I think for management and the competition people at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). I don’t know – and for Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) really. I don’t really know.”
Do you feel like some of the old Bristol is coming back and the racing gets frustrating and tempers get heated?
“Since they reconfigured it, it’s just so different. Nothing at all like it used to be but yet on the other hand it does turn into one groove. It’s just the groove is up on top and it’s a lot faster and certainly with this car compared to if you want to go back 10 years ago it’s a lot different. And, even if you want to just move someone and pass them it’s much more challenging than it used to be for the way the cars are designed and what have you. But, certainly I think whenever you have a faster car and you’re behind someone and you can’t get around them because there’s such a huge speed difference in the grooves of course you get frustrated. Whenever you have a faster car you want to be able to pass the car in front of you.”
Do you get all caught up in the hype of the Bristol night race?
“Well, I mean I think everybody loves racing here at Bristol. It’s a really unique environment unlike any other one we have. I think I remember the first time we won a night race I remember how fired up my guys were. They were almost more fired up than any other win we ever had in a way which sort of surprised me. So, me, once I get racing I don’t feel any different than any other race. You’re trying to do the same things and approach things the same and think about things the same and all that. You don’t really get into that. But, certainly prerace and seeing the crowd and postrace and some of the stuff that happens here I think is certainly one of the more fun environments to be around.”