|Matt Kenseth won at Darlington in 2013.|
What are your expectations for this weekend?
“Well, it’s hard to pick expectations. You come here once a year – different aero package – so you’re not really sure, but certainly the last few months our cars have been fast, so we’re hoping we can continue that momentum here. We had a really bad finish at Bristol, but we had a really good car again, so hopefully we have a competitive car that will run up front. It’s always a long race. It’s really exciting to be back here on Labor Day – it’s just a totally different feeling in my opinion even riding down here and hearing all the excitement from the fans, so I’m looking forward to getting the weekend started here in a little bit.”
How was the tire test leading up to this weekend?
“I thought the test was fine. It’s a little bit – it’s a tough place to test when the track is real clean and you get a lot of cars, especially with a softer tire because it will change a lot as it gets rubbered up, but I thought it was okay. I don’t know if the tire was built specifically for here, but they brought softer tires because they took some downforce off. I think it’s more what everybody kind of talked about hoping to get with this package – less downforce, softer tire, more mechanical grip, all that kind of stuff – so we’ll see how it works out for tire, mechanical grip and all that kind of stuff. We’ll see how it works out when everybody gets out here and we get through the weekend.”
Is Joe Gibbs Racing starting to talk about Chase strategy?
“We haven’t really talked about it at all yet. We’ve still got a couple races to do before that really. We just have been looking forward to this weekend. Obviously, we plan farther than that ahead of time all year whether there’s Chase or no Chase, so certainly they’ve been gearing up for that, but that’s not to say there’s any less focus for this weekend or next weekend than there is coming up. Really just one week at a time and this week it’s the Southern 500 and, my opinion, it’s one of the biggest races of the season –a historic race back here on Labor Day and everybody wants to come here and try to win this thing, so that’s where our focus is today.”
Has Joe Gibbs Racing’s expansion to four teams benefited the organization?
“I think there’s always a – I guess you could always look if you dug deep enough and find pros and cons I guess. I don’t know if the performance uptick really has a lot to do with the fourth team to be honest with you. I think getting ready for four teams last year probably was – it might have hurt our performance a little bit last year. I don’t know how much it helps our performance this year. It probably helps a little bit – adding somebody like Carl (Edwards) over there obviously helps us all and we’ve got to have more people and all that. Certainly, to expand that much, it takes longer to do things, it takes a little longer to react and things like that, so I think it’s getting used to it. Certainly, right now we’re running as good as we’ve ever ran – pretty close to how we ran in 2013 I think as an organization. It certainly hasn’t hurt us and there’s probably a lot of things about it that have helped a little bit.”
Do you think Joe Gibbs Racing will continue to have success with the new aero package?
“You know, Kentucky and here are just such different race tracks, so I don’t know that you can really compare. They brought a different tire, way different surface, way different racing style here than there is at Kentucky. Obviously, the groove is much narrower, so I think that’s really, really difficult to compare. We all had really good cars at Kentucky – I think all four of us finished in the top-five if I’m not mistaken. I felt like we were all pretty competitive there and hopefully we can all be competitive here.”
Does your son, Ross Kenseth, have any additional races scheduled with Joe Gibbs Racing?
“I don’t know about next year. This year, there’s not – this year, the schedule is all filled up with drivers and sponsors, so he’s still got an ARCA race coming up at Kentucky for (Ken) Schrader and he’s got a bunch of big Late Model races coming up. That’s what he’s got on this slate for the rest of this season.”
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