26 August 2013
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing - Q&A
Matt Kenseth locked himself into the 2013 Chase with his fifth win of the year, in what's proving a wildly successful first season with his new team Joe Gibbs Racing.
In the post-race press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, race winner Matt Kenseth spoke to the media along with crew chief Jason Ratcliff and car owner Joe Gibbs.
Let's roll right into our post-race for tonight's 53th annual Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event here at Bristol Motor Speedway. Our race winner is Matt Kenseth. He drove the #20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. This was Matt's 29th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his fifth win in 2013. That leads the Sprint Cup Series. It's his third win at Bristol, and with this victory tonight he assures himself of at least a wild-card position in the 2013 Chase. He's joined up front by his crew chief Jason Ratcliff and president of Joe Gibbs Racing, JD Gibbs. Matt, congratulations. Very exciting race here tonight at Bristol, held off Kasey Kahne there at the end and put on a great show for the fans. Talk about this win. This is a big win for you obviously as we get ready to set the Chase field.
It's a huge win for us. The Bristol night race is one of the biggest races of the year. It's one of the most fun races to win. It's been a while since we won one. Man, it was a dramatic finish. I really put Jason in a box by speeding on pit road so we had to do a strategy different, because of that my car got so tight and could barely hang on there at the end. I'm glad we were able to pull it out. If we wouldn't have, it would have been totally my fault, so I was glad we were able to come back from that. I had a great engine and had just enough speed to hang on.
Jason, just talk about some of the things that you had to overcome here tonight, obviously that pit road speeding penalty didn't put you in a great spot, but Matt had a great car and y'all did a great job getting it ready, but talk about how you overcame that.
Well, we felt like we left something here in the spring. We felt like we had a good car here. You never know how these things are going to turn out, but we were looking forward to coming back to Bristol and getting another opportunity to do that. We weren't as good as we hoped we would be when we unloaded or hit the track on Friday, but we made a lot of changes. Guys did a lot of good adjustments on the car. Car had some speed tonight as Matt mentioned. He said he put me in a box. He put himself in a box and dug his way right out of it. He did a good job on 200-plus-lap right-side tyres. I told him we got our money's worth out of everything. His air-conditioner quit so we got the money's worth out of that one, money's worth out of the tyres, maybe half a gallon left of fuel there at the end. Everything worked out for us right to the end, and it was the same old Bristol, dramatic finish right at the end.
JD, if we set the Chase field tonight Matt would be the number one seed, but talk about how this win has to boost the momentum for the #20. Certainly as you look at your other cars, certainly the #18 is on the cusp of clinching a berth and then the #11 was sitting on the pole this weekend, but talk about this victory for the #20.
It's a huge deal for Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole. It meant a lot, and the best part, Matt just reminded me, we just saved $700 not putting right-side tyres on, so that was a good money saver.
I think that's being conservative.
I'm that Gibbs that actually cares about money. (Laughter.)
I'll attest to that. (Laughter.)
Matt, considering Kasey's feelings towards the Joe Gibbs Racing organization but his reputation as a clean racer, how did you think that last 12 or so laps would go? Did you think he would try to pass you cleanly or were you worried about what he might do if he got to you?
Well, first of all, I only drive the #20 so I am only responsible for what happens with that. But I knew it was going to be a hard race. We had a pretty good lead, and our car was getting real tight and we ran down I think the #43 and the #17. I wasn't fast enough to go past him. If I would have went underneath him, Kasey would have went underneath me and won the race so I had to patiently wait and thankfully they were really courteous and moved out of the way, moved down and I was able to get around them. And then we were just going really slow.
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