For Kenseth, Kansas race could be big
kansas city, kan. — Matt Kenseth walked quietly into the interview at Kansas Speedway, sat behind a microphone and was asked to reflect on last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“I can hardly remember last week,” he replied, “much less last year.” That’s probably a good thing. Just about everything that could go wrong for Kenseth did a week ago at Charlotte, from pitroad penalties to rubbing the wall. He finished so far off the lead that his Chase hopes took a major hit, and now he arrives at Kansas for the Hollywood Casino 400 in desperate need of a victory that would guarantee him one of the eight spots in the “eliminator” round.
If not this week, then it would have to come next week at Talladega — an even bigger wild-card track.
“For me it’s really no different. We try to show up and try to do the best we can every week,” Kenseth said. “Same this week. Obviously a win moves you on, but I don’t think this is a must-win. Just try to do the best we can and be ready on Sunday.”
Kenseth has every reason to be optimistic this weekend.
Start with the fact he has won twice at Kansas, has sat on the pole twice more and has put together six top-five finishes at the speedy mile-and-a-half tri-oval. He has led more than 500 laps in all and has been in the top 10 in nine of his past 10 starts.
Then consider that his five victories this season are the most of any driver and that his Joe Gibbs Racing stable won 13 times in all, more than any other team.
So does all that positive karma mean Kenseth — who will start 11th on Sunday — is more apt to take chances in the 400-mile race?
“The rewards are greater if you win, obviously. I don’t know if the penalty is worse or not” if a risky maneuver fails, he replied.
Hollywood Casino 400
Kansas Speedway, 2 p.m., NBC