Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/27/14

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 06: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #16 CitiFinancial Ford, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 NESN Ford Fusion, remains the points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series going into this weekend.  He held his weekly Q&A session in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway infield media center before practice.

MATT KENSETH: “This place has probably been one of my biggest struggles – one of the top three or four tracks anyway.  We ran pretty decent last fall and made our way to the front a couple times after getting spun out and got a decent finish, so I’m hoping to build on that today and get a better qualifying position than we normally get and, hopefully, get the car driving right.”

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE ALLMENDINGER SITUATION?  “I don’t really know any details about it.  I think it’ll become probably more clear one way or the other once we hear the rest of the details from his side and from NASCAR’s side – what it was, if we ever find out – so I think everybody hates to see that from the fans to especially the competitors.  It’s hard to comment on taking him out right before the race because I don’t know what it was.  I don’t know what they found and, obviously, when you’re out there  racing at 200 miles an hour you want everybody to be right.  That’s what the program is for, so if there was something wrong, you don’t want to be out there with somebody if there’s something wrong with them.”

HOW HARD WAS IT TO MAKE THE DECISION TO LEAVE ROUSH FENWAY?  “I think once we got through Kentucky and moved on from there, more than anything, is it’s probably a relief for me.  I think the stress for me was probably the month-and-a-half before that trying to work through all of that and what was gonna happen or not happen.  I don’t think it’s a distraction unless you let it become one.  I think it’s business as usual.  It doesn’t change anything for this season or what our goals are or how we prepare or how hard we work toward the goal of trying to win races and win a championship.  It doesn’t really change anything in my mind.  We’ve been there a long time.  We made a commitment to race through 2012 and it doesn’t really change anything, except for what we’re doing in 2013 and beyond.”

CAN YOU SHED ANY LIGHT ON 2013 AND BEYOND?  “No.”  WHEN DO YOU HOPE TO DO THAT?  “I hoped to do it a couple of weeks ago.  I don’t know when it’s gonna happen.  You guys will know the same time I do, I guess.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE WITH JACK AND RICKY STENHOUSE JR.?  “Probably opposite reactions.  Obviously, Ricky is probably loving me right now more than anybody else is, and I think Jack is probably disappointed, but we’ll work through that.  We’ve had a great relationship for the 14-15 years I’ve been there.  I got there in ’97 and started hanging out with Mark and Jimmy and testing with those guys and getting introduced to the organization, so it’s been a long time.  We’ve got a great relationship.  I really don’t think that will change.  We’ll get through this and still be friends.  We’ll still get along and we’re still gonna work hard the rest of the season.”

WHAT ABOUT CARL AND GREG?  “I don’t see why my relationship would change with Carl and Greg at all, really.   I think a lot of the former teammates I’ve had there I’m probably better friends with them than most people in the garage.  Jeff Burton and Mark Martin, and Kurt and I still get along really great, so I think I’ve built a lot of friendships and relationships there and just because they move on and don’t race there anymore doesn’t mean you’re not friends with them.  Jamie McMurray, I still get along with all of those guys great.”

CAN YOU RELATE TO KEVIN HARVICK JUST BECOMING A NEW DAD?  “I think when that happens in the middle of the season, especially when they’re waiting for their first, I think it’s always a little stressful and you’re always wondering because you certainly want to be there for your wife.  That’s a good thing to do, especially long-term, but you don’t want to let your race team down at the same time, so I think it’s a little stressful when it comes to scheduling.  You’re just hoping it’s any time except for race day.”


IS THE FIRST THOUGHT AFTER A SITUATION LIKE ALLMENDINGER TO AGREE WITH NASCAR OR WITHHOLD JUDGMENT?  WHAT IS YOUR FIRST REACTION AS A DRIVER?  “I think you withhold judgment.  Being a driver and knowing how serious that we all take it and how hard we work at it that it seems unbelievable that somebody would do something or put something in their body that they don’t know about and take that risk.  I didn’t know Jeremy very well personally.  I saw him around forever, but it never really crossed my mind.  I don’t really know AJ that well either besides saying hi to him and small talk in the garage and working with him a little bit last year at Petty, so I don’t know.  I think the drug testing policy is a great thing.  I think there’s always a fear of the unknown.  You don’t really know what’s going on with someone else and you take that test, and I know I’ve never in my life done an illegal drug and I don’t use any supplements.  I don’t do any of that stuff.  I know a lot of people do a lot of different workout stuff, I just don’t take any of that stuff.  I just eat stuff that you guys can all buy in the supermarket, so I don’t worry about it that way.  But there is a fear of the unknown.  You take a test and they ship the stuff away and you hope not to hear about anything later.  I think you always wonder and you’re never really sure until it all comes out, and especially on the person who tested on the positive side.  If or when they ever come out and say what they did or didn’t do, or how it happened, I think you’d feel better, so I think you’ve got to let some time pass until everything comes out.  They get the B sample done and maybe AJ talks and you hear what it was, maybe that will clear everything up and, then again, maybe it won’t – maybe you’ll never know – but I think they did a lot of things when they put that system in place to make it as fair as they can and I really believe that NASCAR is gonna err on the side of caution.  I think they’re gonna be pretty darn careful before they do something that could really jeopardize somebody’s career, so I’d have a hard time believing that it’s not pretty rock solid, or I don’t think NASCAR would have reacted like that.”

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE SUPPLEMENT OR DRUG WAS THAT HE TESTED POSITIVE FOR?  “Yeah, I think everybody would want to know.  I’d love to know what it is.  Did they come out and say it’s a supplement?”  AJ SAID IT WAS A SUPPLEMENT.  “Oh, it was?  I didn’t see that he said anything, but I wouldn’t know.  But, yeah, I think everybody of course would want to know what it is from both sides.  People are curious. You guys, I’m sure, want to know and we’d all want to know as well.”

DOES LEADING THE STANDINGS CHANGE HOW YOU APPROACH THINGS?  “It doesn’t affect our strategy a lot.  I think if you can keep a decent lead and you get down to a race or two to go and maybe you’d take a risk as far as strategy or fuel mileage to collect a win, but, really, we show up every week with the idea of trying to win, go race as hard as we can, prepare the fastest cars we can and go out and race them on Sundays and hope to get a win.  If you can’t get that, get the best finish you can and just keep going and take it one week at a time.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PAINT SCHEME AND HAVING THE RED SOX ON BOARD? ANY EXTRA PRESSURE?   “There’s no extra pressure.  It’s cool to have NESN on there and the Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group with the soccer team and all that.  I obviously didn’t come up in this area, it’s close to Boston with John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group owning half of the organization, so it’s neat that they got to put some of their stuff on the car.  There’s really no extra pressure, though.”

HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN “A” SAMPLE TEST WHERE THEY CAME BACK TO YOU AND ASKED FOR A PRESCRIPTION?  OR DO YOU KNOW ANYONE THAT HAS HAPPENED TO?  “No.  I have not ever had a follow-up call or any issues, and I don’t know of anybody that has either.  That doesn’t mean that if it did happen they would walk in the garage and tell all of their peers.  I’m not sure if they would do that or not, but I have not heard of anybody else besides the people I’ve read about, who have been suspended, and have been in the media.   That’s the only thing I’ve ever heard.  I’ve never heard any talk from in the garage about anything else.”

WHAT IS TOUGH ABOUT THIS TRACK?  “I know the modifieds are big up in this area.  It’s not really racing that I really followed and me being more from the Midwest I probably don’t know a lot about it, but it seems like — I didn’t come up here when they first built the speedway, it’s been before I started, but you can tell there’s always been a lot of excitement up here.  It’s a ways away from a lot of other NASCAR tracks, so I know that ever since the series first starting coming up here there has been a lot of excitement.”


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