Matt Kenseth strode into Thursday's NASCAR championship contenders press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway loose and relaxed, as if he were ahead of Jimmie Johnson by 28 points instead of the other way around.
On the stage of the Homestead Media Center, Kenseth, Johnson and third-place Kevin Harvick whispered one-liners with each other and occasionally cracked wise, a sharp contrast to the tense atmosphere of the championship pressers of the last three years.
Win, lose or draw on Sunday, Kenseth is in a good space as he wraps up his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing. It will take an extraordinary set of circumstances for him to win his second Cup championship this year, but as he noted during one-on-one interviews after the event, he's in the title hunt in the last race of the season for the first time since 2006. And that's a very good thing.
"I don't have any pain," Kenseth said. "I haven't been sitting in one of these since '06, I don't think. I haven't had a mathematica...