When Matt Kenseth crossed the finishline on Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he did something he has rarely done in his 16 year Sprint Cup Series career.
He showed emotion.
“I know they’re expecting me to perform and do my job. Before this year I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever been nervous at all inside of a race car, and every week it gets a little bit better. But you’re always a little bit nervous and you want to meet their expectations or exceed them, and you want to go do your job to the best of your ability. I’m pretty fired up to win with these guys,” commented Kenseth after the victory.
Many were surprised when he left Roush Fenway Racing after the end of the 2012 season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I was pretty comfortable where I was at. We had cars that could win races. We had an organization that could win races. Pretty comfortable,” said Kenseth.
After Daytona, many thought Kenseth would second guess his move. Engine issues with the Toyota cars, including Joe Gibbs Racing were alarming.
“I was probably the most enthused person in the organization leaving Daytona I would have to guess. Everything that was in our control we did a good job at. I think we called the race great, had great pit stops, did everything right, we were leading the race, dominated the middle part of the race, had both our teammates second and third behind us. From my standpoint it couldn’t have been any better except to finish,” commented Kenseth.
Even with those questions, team owner Joe Gibbs did not have any doubts about his hire or his teams.
“We’ve had a tough couple of weeks, and I think that’s why this win means so much and the fact that we had, like you mentioned, three good cars. I think it says that we’re on the right track with some things, and so Matt probably said it best today; in sports you’re never satisfied. I’m already worried about next week and all the things that you have to sweat out. But I do think I’m really confident in our drivers, our teams, our crew chiefs, and so I feel very good about that,” commented Gibbs in the media room.
There is no doubt that for Kenseth and his crew, this was only the beginning of what could be a great year.