Daytona 500 Champion Matt Kenseth On Winning: ‘It’s Something I Wish I Could Put in a Bottle’
BroBible: What's it feel like to cross the finish line at the Daytona 500 in first place?
That’s a feeling that I haven’t really come up with a good way to describe yet. It’s something I wish I could put in a bottle because no other feeling like that. It’s a really hard one to explain, but when you know that you’re going to win the race or you’re going win a Cup race against some guys — especially the Daytona 500 — it’s just an unbelievably good feeling. It's always fun. Then getting in victory lane and seeing your guys — seeing how fired up they are for the win — and hanging out with them is really fun. Then after that you kind of starting your media obligations.
How was winning your second Daytona 500 different from winning your first?
It was pretty awesome, it was definitely a great feeling, I mean it’s the biggest race we run all year, and to win one of them was awesome. This year our execution was really fast. We won a qualifying race, which was the first time we’ve ever won one, and then to back it up we took the 500.
Take us through what was going through your mind on those last 40 laps after Juan Pablo Montoya ran into the jet truck. What were you thinking about, how were you plotting to move forward?
It was actually a little bit hard to concentrate after about an hour into the delay. At first it was just kind of fun hanging out. But, after a while it started getting kinda long and you’re getting tired and hungry and thinking about whether the race is gonna get restarted. I was pretty anxious because we were the first one off pit row and I knew that if we went back green that the four guys in front of me were going to have to pit and we were going to have to be the leader. So I was really thinking about that little second we led and hot to get rolling again to see if we could keep leading the race. So, I was real anxious to get going again.
On the restart, did you have any worries with your teammate Greg Biffle making a move behind you?
Yeah, I mean Greg had a really fast car as well. He ran up front all day and showed his strength and qualifying in the 150 and then the 500 as well, so I knew he was gonna be the guy to beat if you’re going to want to win that race. Fortunately, everything just lined up perfect. We were able to make the moves to get in front of him on the restarts and get out in single file with him so I could lead the pack at a pretty good pace. It made it tough for the other guys to catch up to us and get around us.
With the win on a restrictor plate track, do you think it was a statement win to help the team's credibility?
Yeah. It’s fun to win on any kind of track and you want be decently good on all of them, but especially restrictor plates. If you can show some muscle and your cars are pretty fast, you can make pretty decent moves especially during Speed Week and the150 mile qualifier. It all helps for the 500 because everybody’s watching the race.
How did you celebrate the win this time compared to when you won the first time at Daytona?
It’s a little bit different. When we won the first one, the race was on Sunday so we had a whole week of doing media stuff. We weren’t even really thinking about winning it. Winning wasn’t even in my mind, to be honest with you, because we’ve had some good cars down there and come up short so many times. So, it was fun. Katie and I got to go on the whole media tour to New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles. We had a really good time with that and were able to savor the win before we had to go and race the following week in California. This time, it was a little more of the same.
It was great having NASCAR on Monday nights from a TV audience perspective. There were huge ratings. What do you think about it as a driver?
I liked it. I know it got really good ratings, even though there was the two-hour delay in there. I don't how it’d work on a regular basis, if it’d be better than a Saturday night or whatever but I really enjoyed it. I think that was a great call by Nascar once they saw the weather for Monday morning to move it to 7 o’clock Monday night. I think it was a nice move for all the fans at home.