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September 12, 2015

Matt Kenseth


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our race winner, Matt Kenseth. This is his second victory here at Richmond this year, and his fourth victory of 2015.
Matt, obviously a dominating performance here tonight. You led 362 laps, the second highest total of your career. Talk a little bit about your wins this year, tying with Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, wrapping up your Chase, looking ahead to the next 10 races.
MATT KENSETH: It was great to get the win. Richmond, when I came to JGR, was one of their best tracks. In the last couple years, it's been one of our worst as a group.
After the spring race, we ran okay, but the other cars didn't run real great. Coach always gets mad when I say this. He kind of yelled at us in the meeting, the only time I think he's yelled since I've been there, about our cars because our short‑track cars ran so bad.
Everybody was working on it anyway. But everybody went to work real hard on trying to get these cars to run better. This is an important race for us. I know in the big scheme of the championship battle, doesn't have huge implications there. But it was really important to us as a company to get running good here again.
Like I say, it used to be one of their better tracks and it hasn't been the last couple years. Tonight all our cars ran really well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Matt.

Q. It looked like maybe a little bit you went before the first restart line. Any sort of consideration of you knew that Aric had nothing to lose, to encourage you to go as soon as you possibly could?
MATT KENSETH: I knew for sure I wasn't going to go late. Really had nothing to do with Aric there really. We had a nice lead there. We had a really good car. After 20 to go, 20 laps in a row, I didn't feel like anybody could run with us. Even after 10 laps, pretty good.
Joey and Brad are so good at restarts, they launch so good. I don't know what they did, I wish we did. They just launch so fast. All the restarts I had tonight, Joey typically beat me on those restarts.
When we got that debris caution with 30‑something to go, I knew I had to have a good pit stop and I had to have a good restart and some good distance to hold on because the short run was not our strong suit.
The short run wasn't the strongest part of our car tonight. So I knew it was going to be important to make sure we were clear when we got to turn one.

Q. I know you're kind of an even‑keeled guy. It's quite a rollercoaster to go from seven wins to zero, now you go into the Chase tied for the lead with the most wins in the season. How do you wrap your head around that?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I've been doing this for a while. I haven't had many seasons like I had, probably any seasons like I had this year. In 2013, although we won a couple extra races that year. But, you know, I've had a lot of seasons where we didn't run very well.
I think a lot of the stuff is cyclical. There were a lot of things that went on last year I felt like got us behind as a company. Kyle and Denny were able to get us wins, but as a company we didn't run well at all like we did in 2013 or before that. They've always won a lot of races. We knew that.
I was probably as proud or prouder of everybody in the shop, including my team, last year than I was in '13 or this year, really. Just the way they handled themselves, kept an even keel, kept working on it. Nobody got any bad attitudes or panicked or anything. Just kept working on it. It's a lot of fun when you have race cars that drive like that, for sure. It's frustrating when they don't.
I think it's important to stay somewhere in the middle. I've always felt like that. I think you're never as good as people tell you you are or as bad as people tell you you are. You have to stay somewhere in the middle and try to improve.

Q. (No microphone.)
MATT KENSETH: You know, I'm not sure. That's a tough question to answer. I feel like as a company, I feel like as a company right now, all four cars are really strong. I felt like we were really strong in the Chase in 2013. We ended up getting beat, but we were pretty strong, won a couple races, led a lot of laps. Jimmie beat us. We were really good.
I feel like as a company right now, we're stronger than we were in '13. We had a lot of different things happen, where all four of us now have been able to win races and we're all in the Chase. I feel like all four teams are really competitive. I think we were one through four at one point tonight. I feel like as a company, we're stronger this year.

Q. Did you feel this was at all a statement race for you, what your team could do over the next 10 weeks?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I mean, you want to win every week. I'll tell you, if you could do this every week, you would. So it's not like you can do anything extra or anything necessarily better. I will say it feels really good. It's good for all of our confidence, probably especially mine.
I felt horrible about wrecking that car. Looked like it was the first time I drove a racecar last week. Had the fastest car in the field the first 30 laps, hit the wall and ruined our race last week. I felt like an idiot all week.
I was glad I didn't make any mistakes tonight and were able to get the win. That part feels definitely good. We've had a really good couple months, we've had really fast cars. A couple times, Bristol and Darlington, where we didn't finish well. So, yeah, it always feels good to win.

Q. (No microphone.)
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, but it wasn't a fatal one (laughter).

Q. I asked Joe earlier, but when the season started for JGR, you had Kyle sidelined, J.D.'s health issues had become public, as many of you pointed out you were still searching for improvement in performance on the track. A lot of your fellow drivers and people who worked at JGR have credited coach for keeping the organization focused and on track. I wondered what your thoughts were on that, the journey that has gone from where the season started to tonight where the four of you all have a chance to compete for the championship.
MATT KENSETH: Can you repeat that whole question word for word (laughter)? No? Sorry, I had to.
Yeah, I mean, I didn't think the year started off that bad. It wasn't that much better when we ended last year. That was a little bit disappointing. But yet we had a lot going on. Like you said, we had an addition of the fourth team, which is a big deal. Going from three to four, that's a big change, it really is.
We had Carl getting used to the system, getting him there. Then obviously with Kyle getting hurt, that really hurt a lot. We had a lot of things going on there. We would try to do a post practice meeting, Denny be running the XFINITY race, and it would be me David and Carl in there, no Denny and Kyle. It took a long time to get the whole group together.
As soon as Kyle came back, obviously it coincided with other things, too, but him coming back and winning those races, getting with Adam, they got obviously a great chemistry together. Him winning races right away definitely elevated all of our games. We got all of our cars faster and running good.
Probably the thing I'm most proud of as an organization is all the cars are running well. Sometimes you get big and you maybe have a car or two that runs good and a car or two that don't, some people get along, some people don't. Right now, for as many people as we have there, as many new people, it's pretty cohesive.
So, yeah, it starts on the top with coach, Todd Meredith. Everybody that runs that place and hires people, they do a lot of homework and try to get the right people in there. I think that makes a big difference.
Did I even answer the question? I hope I did (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Matt, congratulations once again. Ratcliff said you could celebrate this for a couple hours and then start working.
MATT KENSETH: He better not be celebrating. He better be working on that car (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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