Matt Kenseth has nothing to hide as NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup cranks up later this week.
“I’ve never had a time in my career where I wish I wasn’t running as good as I could be,” Kenseth said Tuesday. “I like to come in knowing you can win races and lead laps.”
Three victories in six races – including Saturday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway – has Kenseth right where he wants to be entering the 10-race Chase, which begins Sunday with the myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Kenseth has been on the other side of that equation as recently as 2014, when he came into the Chase winless.
“Coming in last year, knowing that everything has to be absolutely perfect and all the stars are aligning just to win a race, that’s no way to come in,” said Kenseth. “I’d rather come in like we did this year, winning some races.”
Kenseth was part of a NASCAR media blitz Tuesday that continues Wednesday, during which Chase drivers make appearances around the country. Kenseth was in Charlotte, where the fourth Chase race – the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Kenseth is part of a Joe Gibbs Racing team that has been dominant over the past three months, winning nine of 15 races. The victories – coming from Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards – have come on a variety of track configurations and lengths. JGR even won the four races in which experimental aerodynamic packages were used – Busch at Kentucky and Indianapolis, Kenseth at Michigan and Edwards at Darlington.
“As an organization, we have a lot of momentum,” said Kenseth. “We’ve had really fast cars the last couple of months. I feel like we’ve got some improvements to make, but it’s a good time to be running this well.”
The aero packages – low downforce at Darlington and Kentucky; high downforce at Indianapolis and Michigan – won’t be used during the Chase.
Kenseth said that’s fine, although he said he prefers the downforce package. JGR obviously had both of those setups figured out better than other teams.
“JGR did a great job of adapting to both packages,” he said. “But it didn’t take away from what we’ve done with the (regular) 2015 (package). As a group, the shop feels the best about the current package.
“If it were up to me, though, I like the less downforce package like Darlington. As a driver, that’s more challenging, with more opportunities to pass.”