Kenseth Not Concerned
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 24, 2014 | 4:00 P.M. EST
"I think the biggest sense of urgency probably is that we just know as an organization we need to be running better. We're not running as good as we did last year as a group." (Photo: Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth isn’t worried about his season even though he’s still winless after the first 16 races of the year.
Kenseth won seven times in his debut season with Joe Gibbs Racing a year ago and went down to the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at winning his second Sprint Cup Series title.
But so far in this campaign things have been a challenge for Kenseth and company and he enters Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway as the defending winner but remains shut out of Victory Lane in 2014.
However Kenseth is remaining calm and doesn’t necessarily feel any added pressure or urgency – to a degree at least.
“Well, I mean, yes and no,” said Kenseth. “I think the biggest sense of urgency probably is that we just know as an organization we need to be running better. We're not running as good as we did last year as a group. We're not leading as many laps, sitting on as many poles, winning as many races. As a group we're not doing near as much of that or running up front as much as we were last year. So we need to get that better.”
Although Kenseth has had a relatively successful season in terms of consistency and finds himself fourth in the series standings despite his DNF at Sonoma last week, he understands the new Chase format’s emphasis on winning.
“In this new format you really need at least a win and be up in the top 30 to really feel confident about being in the Chase,” said Kenseth, who has recorded five top-five and ten top-10 finishes. “Anything can happen with different winners, so you're never sure. But if we could win every week, we would. So just to have a sense of urgency about it, it doesn't really do any good.
“ We're already working as hard as we can and we're calling the races the way we need to call them to get ourselves in the best position. Pit stops have been great. I feel like we're doing everything we can do to do that, we've just going to keep trying to get our cars faster, keep trying to get in position to win more, and if you can put yourself in that spot enough times, sooner or later you'll get one.”
As for that Sonoma DNF, which came after Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Kenseth in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 sending his Camry hard into the tire barriers with violent impact, the two have yet to discuss the incident.
“I have not heard from him actually, which I probably thought I would have,” said Kenseth. “I mean, I'm sure it was just a mistake.
“Everybody fights as hard as they can for the spot for the restart and I kind of rolled outside of him there because everyone was going slow and we were kind of running through there and I had him most of the way clear, and I haven't really totally seen it. I assume he probably just jumped a curb or something and got me in the right rear.”
Kenseth’s focus is now on Kentucky and trying to make it two straight wins at the 1.5-mile track and recapture the intermediate speedway success that helped propel him to last year’s stellar season. So far in 2014, it’s been a challenge trying to find that magic.
“I think if you can get caught up or you can learn some things or get your cars faster at any track, you feel like there's hopefully a thing that you can apply, some general basic things that can work everywhere, and you can start moving forward in that direction because it seems like the guys who are running good, like I said, are running good every week,” said Kenseth. “Hopefully we can start improving.”