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July 5, 2020

Matt Kenseth

Indianapolis, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Matt Kenseth. We'll go right to questions.

Q. Can you talk about the restart. At that point how much of a chance do you have? Aren't you dependent on the guy behind you as what you do on the restart?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I mean, all four of those cars were really, really fast. They just had a ton of raw speed. Aric was great. He was ready and pushed me. I didn't do the best job taking off. I didn't want to get a penalty for jumping the start. I started going, he pushed me. Didn't look like Kevin was going, so I hesitated just that beat that kind of got Kevin out there.
He still pushed me up there pretty good. Couldn't get going that fast. Once we got through one and two, we were pretty fast again. Just not fast enough. Really the restart before that was our chance. We had on four new tires, lining up behind Denny who was the control car, the leader. Had Kevin underneath me. Was able to get around him and clearing him, kind of in second place.
Kevin had so much speed he pulled up behind me in the backstretch and pretty much pushed me down the whole straightaway. When we got about three‑quarters of the way down, he took a left and passed me. There was just no way for me to defend that one. Those guys were really, really fast.
Our McDonald's Chevy handled great today. We were really fast. If we would have been up front, we would have been hard to beat. I just didn't have enough speed to get around Kevin.

Q. You were talking earlier today to us about trying to pick things up for this group. How do you feel about today?
MATT KENSETH: I certainly wasn't flawless today. I could have done a little bit better on a couple of those restarts, particularly the last one. But I feel a lot more comfortable than I have been for sure.
I think really Pocono was a big step forward for us. It was the first time, our finishes don't look spectacular, 11th and 12th, but we've been finishing 20th and 25th. Obviously it's a much better car and team than that.
I feel like we had done some stuff at Pocono that really seemed to work for me and directionally seemed to be better. The car drove pretty good here the whole entire day, too. I'm hoping we can just carry that momentum into Kentucky, just keep moving forward with that. Hopefully get to the front like we did today, running up front where this team belongs.

Q. You've been a part of a lot of Brickyard 400s. Do you think this race today maybe has done enough to put to bed the story of moving this race from the oval to the road course at least for another year?
MATT KENSETH: I mean, I was listening to Aric for a while. I thought he said it pretty good. I think it's one of those racetracks that we need to race at as long as we can. It's arguably the most famous speedway in the world, or one of them.
To be able to race on the ovals with the Cup cars, which is the highest form of stockcar racing here, we should be on the big track as well. I don't think it would be bad to maybe test the road course and look into it, maybe do a second race on a road course, kind of like the INDYCARS did this week.
I really do think the Brickyard 400 has a lot of prestige. It's not a southern race, but similar to the Southern 500, races like that. I think there's a few of those races you sure would hate to see disappear.

Q. You mentioned how big of a weekend or important Pocono was. What was it you feel you were able to hit on that translated to Indy, momentum or whatever?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I mean, not really going to give you particulars obviously. I think not having a lot of practice, then you run a race at a track, you move onto the next track. A lot of stuff we do with racecars is track specific. We're trying to find those things that maybe are not so much track specific and try to find some trends in what we were either doing or not doing, try to get everything moving kind of in the right direction.
I just felt like we had a lot of positives there, had a much better feel for the car. Felt like we were able to make some adjustments, move towards the front at times.
Pocono and Indy are really different racetracks, too. The best adjustment you can make to these cars, particularly this rules package, is track position. We've been starting 20th every week with no practice, haven't been at some of these tracks in a couple years, hard to get going. These last couple weeks we've had great strategy, good pit stops, able to get some good air, dissect the car, make some changes, try to get it more to my liking or kind of what we're looking for.

Q. With the lack of practice, how do you feel the team is adjusting to you and you to the team through the last races now?
MATT KENSETH: Hopefully it's a little better. They're probably pretty darn disappointed the first couple months. The last couple weeks obviously have been better. Last week wasn't a home run by any means, but like my engineer said it's a base hit, kind of got rolling a little bit. This was certainly a great day for us. Hopefully we can build on it, have another good run next week.

Q. You've been around long enough that you remember when we ran this track in July, the hottest part of the summer. This being a 4th of July weekend, how different is that than what used to be run? Do you like the fact it is in the heat of the summer and following the patriotic aspect of that when you talk about the history of the Brickyard?
MATT KENSETH: Well, I don't know that it really matters to me necessarily when we run it. To be honest, it's been such a strange year, obviously no fans, media and stuff at the racetrack. They all kind of blur together. I have to think about it when I realized yesterday was the 4th.
I don't know. I mean, I heard Aric talking about it, he's a little bit full of it. Nobody likes to melt in a racecar. Some people probably hate it more than others, but nobody really likes melting in a racecar.
Some of these days races, certainly tonight it got real late, pretty dark, wasn't that hot. Certainly there's some coming up that have the potential to be pretty hot. Kentucky and Texas, some of those races.
I don't know. It doesn't matter to me really what time of year we come here. I did really always enjoy the weekends here when you had IRP, Thursday, Friday, then Friday, Saturday watching the trucks, the Xfinity cars over at IRP, then the Cup cars here being the Cup race. That was always fun. That always used to be in August, a weekend I always looked forward to.

Q. Rough go since the first race at Darlington. How much confidence does this race give you going forward to Kentucky and the rest of the season as a whole?
MATT KENSETH: Whenever you run well, you build more confidence, not just for myself but for the team and everybody involved. Running bad has opposite effect. Certainly we had a good day starting off at Darlington. I was super sloppy and rusty, we still finished 10th.
Just kind of downhill from there. We went back and were a little faster. I hit the wall, got a bad finish. Nothing was going really well. Like I said, we had a couple decent races last weekend with no mistakes, no problems, no issues, got decent finishes. Today we were able to be competitive, run up front. Chad had great calls, really good calls. Gave me everything I needed to win the race. I'm a little disappointed I couldn't get it done honestly. Had the best tires, gave me good track position. Couldn't quite get the 4 car.
When you run well, it builds confidence. But you have to go out and do it each and every week.

Q. You've won so many races, a championship. Is confidence still something you need, something that's important to any driver?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's easy for anybody to get kind of beat up. You try to keep it in perspective. You go try to do better every week, try to do the best job you can do at controlling the things that are in your control, kind of not worry about the rest.
Certainly you have all those weeks where you're running in the 20s with a team that we know is capable of running like we ran today. That's kind of tough on your ego, confidence, whatever. Even walking through the shop you thing they are whispering, Got the short straw with this replacement driver (laughter).
Certainly when you run bad, you never feel good about it. When you run better, certainly builds confidence. Kind of shows us all as a group that we can do it.
THE MODERATOR: Matt, thank you for your time.
MATT KENSETH: Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

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