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January 10, 2014

Matt Kenseth


THE MODERATOR:テつ We will continue our media availability here this morning at Daytona International Speedway.テつ We now welcome Matt Kenseth, driver of the No.20 Dollar General Toyota.テつ Matt, obviously a new year; welcome back to Daytona.テつ Just talk a little bit about the new season, I know you haven't been in a car yet, but talk about your thoughts on it and being here back at Daytona.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, I mean, not much going on yet, obviously, so just drug tests and concussion tests and talking to you guys and waiting for the track to dry up.テつ So it hasn't been a very‑‑ I guess we have Fan Fest, too.テつ But other than that I bet everybody is ready to see some cars get on the track and get out there and hopefully get some time in today.

Q.テつ I'm sure obviously you've heard the news with Steve Letarte going to the TV booth next year.テつ My question to you is you've had to go through crew chief transitions.テつ What is that like for a driver? テつThere have been seasons where you had multiple.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, I don't know much about that.テつ I haven't been reading much of the news, sorry.テつ But sometimes you go through a crew chief transition and it's really good, and other times you go through it and it's maybe not the right mix.
I guess if that's next season, it's nice to know that far ahead of time so you can do some research and find the guy that fits best with the team and the driver and all that stuff, because obviously I think the driver/crew chief relationship and chemistry and stuff is probably the most important relationship on the team.テつ It's always important to try to have the right one.

Q.テつ It's a long season for you guys.テつ Is there any special time of the year that you like better than others?
MATT KENSETH:テつ During the season?

Q.テつ During the season, yeah.
MATT KENSETH:テつ I like that off weekend in July.テつ That's probably my favorite part, in the middle of the season.
I don't know.テつ I mean, I really look forward to going to Daytona, running the Shootout or whatever it's called now on Sunday is always fun, or Saturday night.テつ But I really look forward to Thursday, getting in the duels and kind of getting ready for the 500, and then once you finally get to Thursday, you get to race, and race Saturday and race Sunday.テつ I look forward to that a lot, getting the season started, and then I also really look forward to getting‑‑ once Speedweeks is over, I almost feel like the season starts.
This is kind of like its own season it seems like between testing and all the practice you get and the whole week down here and all of that.テつ So I look forward to that, racing the three events down here, especially those three, all four, but especially those three and then getting down to Phoenix and getting the regular season started and seeing how you stack up with everybody.テつ I always like the beginning of the year a lot.

Q.テつ As drivers make transitions to other teams, we've heard already and I'm sure we'll hear again, well, Matt Kenseth made a change and finished second and won seven races, so sometimes change can be good.テつ I'm curious whether you feel like people can regularly expect to have that type of success like you did, or what do you think were the things that made your transition different than most?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, I think it depends.テつ There's a lot of different circumstances that go into play, where you were racing, where you're going to race, who the people working on your team are, what kind of equipment you have.テつ I mean, all that stuff.テつ There's a lot to take into account there.
But I think if you're going to an organization you feel like is‑‑ I think, first of all, a driver, if it's their choice to make the change, they probably don't want to do that unless they think it's going to be better.テつ So in that case I think probably more than half the time you see success you probably see it run just as good or better.テつ But if you're making a change and you didn't want to make a change, that doesn't always mean that you're going to run better.
So I think it just depends.テつ I think every situation is a little bit different.テつ Obviously I was really, really fortunate, the situation that I got in with that whole group over there and how good that stuff runs and how quickly we were able to have some success, so I hope we can build on that this year and keep that up.

Q.テつ Speaking of building on that, coming off that year you had last year, when you guys pinpoint areas where you want to improve on, is it hard to find them when you have a year like you had last year, or do you have areas where you know you guys want to get better or have to get better?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, every year is a little different with the rules changes.テつ You have to stay at it all the time because you just‑‑ the sport moves really fast, and you can run real good one week and maybe a month later go back to the same track and not run so good just because everybody else got better.
I think it's a moving target, but I always feel like you never really just grab one or two areas.テつ I think you look at everything and always try to improve an equal amount in all areas.テつ Certainly there's things if you look at that are more trouble spots than others, you're probably going to put a little more emphasis on that.
But I think you try to look at everything you did and didn't do and just try to improve.

Q.テつ If the cars don't get out on the track today, or if they get out for an hour or two or something, would that just be completely devastating?テつ I know there's a lot of team bonding going on, but other than that people are pretty much sitting around.テつ I know you drive the car and don't crew chief it, but if nothing happens here and they drag the cars back to Charlotte, will a whole lot be missed?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, I think a lot depends if they have you come back or not.テつ I think if they give you a date next week or something when everybody has to come back, I think that would be fairly‑‑ I don't know if devastating is the right word, but for the team and dragging stuff back and forth and trying to get ready for the season, that puts a dent in that because that's a couple days, again, that gets you out of the shop.
But other than that, I don't really think it matters that much honestly.テつ The rules are pretty tight when it comes to speedway racing, and it's the same for everybody.テつ Everybody is going to have the same opportunity for the same amount of practice or no practice.テつ You know, and everybody only got to unload one car, so it's not like you're comparing two cars and you might have one that's better than the other one.テつ You don't really know that because you only have one of them on the track.
I don't think it's really that big a deal, either way.テつ I think everybody would like to get on the track and run through some stuff and look at some stuff, but like I said, it's the same for everybody.

Q.テつ Do you have any idea how the new aero rules for non‑plate tracks will impact the racing, and how much testing do you hope to get in before let's say Vegas?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I really don't.テつ I mean, I feel like just at a quick glance and the little bit we ran it, I feel like it's a fair amount tighter than what we had last year, at least on paper.テつ I'm not sure how that's going to affect the racing yet.テつ I don't think anybody really knows until we all get to the track in race conditions, work on a lot.テつ So you'll probably have a pretty good idea once you leave Vegas if it was a plus or not.
I think everybody is planning on doing a little bit of testing in January.テつ It sounds like a lot of people are going to Nashville to test and some people are doing a little bit of short track testing, especially with that new ride height rule I think is going to be quite a bit different.テつ So yeah, we've got a little bit of testing planned in January at some tracks we don't race at.

Q.テつ Were you in the safety meeting this morning?
MATT KENSETH:テつ I was.テつ Everybody was.テつ Or they were supposed to be.

Q.テつ What did you take out of it, and what do you think about the direction that NASCAR is going with the sled testing, the impact testing and trying to work with drivers to prevent concussions?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, the impact testing, I don't know about everybody else, but it makes me feel extremely stupid by the time you get done with that.テつ So we got that out of the way today.
The safety meetings were good.テつ I think they said it was their 14th year of it or something like that, which has been really, really nice.テつ It informs us a lot of things that NASCAR is working on, shows us a lot of different footage from wrecks and what they did to try to prevent especially wrecks with injuries and what they did to try to prevent those injuries going forward, like in Denny's and some other things there.テつ They're all really informative and they spend a lot of time, money and effort on keeping everything as safe as they can, not only for us but obviously the fans and the guys on pit road, as well.
I always enjoy going to them and seeing what they're working on and kind of getting an update.

Q.テつ It's kind of a two‑parter.テつ I was one of the few of the media that were hanging around last night for those question‑and‑answer sessions out on the Fan Zone stage, and there was a lot of talk about starting three wide during the Sprint Unlimited and how several drivers would like to see that.テつ I wondered if you could talk about that at all.テつ And then if you could add any format changes to the series this season, what would you do?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Format changes for what?テつ For the Sprint Unlimited?

Q.テつ For the Sprint Cup Series.テつ Not for the Sprint Unlimited race but for this whole season.テつ And then for Sprint Unlimited, how would you feel about this concept of starting three wide?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, that was something Sprint asked some of us about when they were talking about the Sprint Unlimited way back last summer or whatever, and I thought it was a great idea for here.テつ I thought it would be kind of exciting, something we've never done before.テつ I wouldn't want to do it at a points race in a weekly race or a 500‑mile race or something like that.テつ But for an unlimited at a track like this or Talladega it would be fine because we usually end up three wide anyway.テつ It would be something different, although some of us might have a hard time figuring out where to line up.
Format changes for the season?テつ I don't think I'd make any format changes for the season.テつ I think consistency is good.テつ I think the points system and a lot of the stuff they've been doing has been pretty consistent over the last couple years.テつ I feel like that's good.テつ I don't really know, I guess, but I feel like it's good from a fan standpoint to kind of know what's going on.
I know they're looking at some stuff for qualifying and everything, so I think that's fine.テつ They're always trying to mix it up a little bit and make it a little bit different, a little bit more exciting.

Q.テつ Now that you have your first season with Gibbs all behind you, I just wonder if you look back, what about the year turned out to be most surprising for you?テつ I'm sure you had your own ideas about how it would go and expectations and what you wanted to accomplish, but when you look back at the season, was there anything that stood out that you thought maybe when you first went over there you didn't consider?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Man, I didn't have a lot of preconceived notions ahead of time about what things would really be like or not be like.テつ Anything that was really a surprise at all was probably a pleasant surprise.
Probably some of it that was a little bit of a surprise to me was how hard Denny and Kyle, too, work, work at it, and in meetings and everything.テつ Probably surprised me a little bit how much I had to talk at meetings and how much people listened to me for some reason.
But other than that, obviously I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by our success and by winning right away and doing all that stuff.テつ But obviously it was all really good.テつ I felt like I really learned a lot last year from December all the way until the season got over, and I'm honestly just as excited for this year as I was last year, so I feel like we've got a lot of good things going on over there, and I was really happy that Denny won at Homestead, as well, and I'm looking forward to‑‑ I'm glad he's healthy again and winning again.テつ Although since we finished second, I would have rather had him finish second so I could have won.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to all three teams really being competitive this year and one of the three hopefully being able to win a championship.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you for your time this morning.テつ Hopefully we'll get you out on the track here very shortly.

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