Matt Kenseth talks the current struggle with Roush; Details the very first time he climbed in a cup car at a Roush test session in the 1990’s, he almost crashed
Matt Kenseth has returned to the highest level of NASCAR. He never wanted to leave in the first place. But, he’s back.
Unfortunately, he got a lot of work to do. The team is well behind. Interestingly, the Ford’s are dominant right now. It’s just that it’s not this particular stable of Ford drivers.
“I’ve run two weeks and I’ve ran pretty much dead last. I can’t say the #17 ran a very big amount better than we did.”
“It was definitely more of a struggle than I thought.”
“The competition side, the Ford’s are really fast this year. The engine side, with Doug [Yates] building the engines. So, you know the stuff is there. I think it’s a matter of putting it together and getting the right stuff designed.”
“You know how competitive it is. You’re off by 3-4 tenths and you’re last. It used to be, you were 3-4 tenths off and you’d run 7th or 8th. You gotta do all the little things right.”
“There’s a lot of room for improvement and the potential is there. But, it’s going to take a little more time and a little more patience than I originally thought.”
Matt Kenseth’s first time in a Cup car
The very first time Matt Kenseth tested a cup car it was at Darlington Raceway. Mark Martin and Jeff Burton were there.
“Roush hired me just to kinda hang out. He said, ‘Bring your stuff. We’re gonna let you drive.’ I’ve never been to Darlington and I’ve never been in a cup car.”
“Steve [Hmiel], he wanted nothing to do with it. He like, ‘Man, you put that kid in that car and he’s going to go out and wreck that thing.’ ”
“We went out and we were actually really fast. I did almost wreck. I hit the apron off of [turn] 2 and just about wrecked it.”
“I came in and he was all enthused. Throwing springs at it and working like crazy.”
“Mark’s like, ‘You have no idea. He doesn’t get like this. He wanted nothing to do with you driving it. You gotta have him super impressed to have him workin’ on the car like that.”
“So, they actually let me drive it for a half a day. It was pretty fun.”
21 years later, Kenseth is still in the NASCAR Cup Series. He’s won 39 races in his career at the highest level of stock car racing. However, re-building Roush-Fenway Racing to the powerhouse it once was might be his biggest challenge thus far.