NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2013 runner-up, Matt Kenseth, is looking for his first win of the 2014 season this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kenseth has two top -10 finishes during the first three races of the season, and is currently sixth in championship points standings.
Winning the Irwin Tools Night Race last August at Bristol, Kenseth is no stranger to success at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Out of 28 career starts at the high banked half-mile, Kenseth has three wins, eleven top-5’s, eighteen top 10’s, and has led a total of 1,156 laps.
When asked by media members if Bristol is a track he looks forward to, Kenseth commented, “It’s a challenging track. I always like coming here no matter what the configuration is. It’s changed a lot over the years, since they repaved it or put new concrete on it. It’s one that I look forward to—it definitely changes a lot during the weekend…You always have to pay attention to that and try to get your car to work good enough to where you can pass, because once the race gets going then everybody piles in the top—then it’s definitely a challenging track to pass on.”
With the changes to the Chase format this season, and an even greater emphasis on wins, Kenseth was asked if he expects more aggressive driving to win races under the new format. “Everybody is going to look at that different and have different ideas or theories about that. I’m not sure how much it changes—maybe it changes a lot or maybe it doesn’t. If somebody is on your bumper at most of these race tracks, especially these little tracks like Martinsville, here, places like that where you can get moved out of the way and you’re holding the guy up in second and you’re leading, you’re always expecting some type of aggressive move. I’m not sure how much that will change. These are all big races to win and everybody is out there racing hard to win. You never know—you never know what the new system with the new rules and format and all that stuff is going to bring. I think we just kind of wait and see.”
Starting in twenty-ninth position and finishing tenth in the Kobalt 400 last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kenseth commented on the struggle the team experienced in the desert. “Qualifying was a lot different than practice. I thought we practiced fairly reasonable. I thought we were off a little bit at Vegas, but practiced reasonable. Qualifying was obviously really bad and I’m not really sure why. In the race we were kind of up and down. We were just stuck around 10th somewhere and could never really get there. I felt like if we could have made it on fuel, and we would have been out front or did the strategy that the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and 99 (Carl Edwards) and a couple of them guys did, then I felt like we could have finished fifth or so. Certainly that wasn’t as good as what we were last year. I think just trying to feel around the ride height thing more than anything—the aero package is different and it’s tighter and it’s all that stuff, but it’s the same for everybody. I think just working to try to get more of a baseline and a feel for the no ride height thing and come up with something that works a little better. Certainly not where we wanted to be, but something that I think we learned a lot from and we can work on.”
Driving the Home Depot/Husky Toyota this weekend, Kenseth qualified remarkably better than last week resulting in a third place starting position. Kenseth will be looking for victory at The Last Great Colosseum in the Food City 500 scheduled for Sunday, March 16th, at 1:00 pm local time.