May 29th, 2015
Matt Kenseth comes into this weekend’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 as the defending champion. The driver took time to reflect on what winning at Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s oldest speedway, means to him while talking to media on Thursday afternoon.
“I always feel like the Southern 500 is one of the biggest races of the year — certainly it was right up there towards the top of my list of tracks I wanted to win at that I never won at before last year. It was a really big win. It was exciting and it didn’t look like we were going to win and Kyle (Busch) had that problem late and we were able to sneak by him there with 10 (laps) to go or something like that. It was a big week for us and it was really, really cool to be able to finally win the Southern 500 for sure,” stated Kenseth.
He continued to talk about the historical significance of the win. “I think one of the biggest races of the year and certainly one of the most historic. It was always on the top of my list to try to win the 500 on Labor Day back before they paved it when it was so slick and the race was so long and the conditions were always horrible. It was always just really, really hot. To be able to win here in any kind of race, any kind of car, any conditions and certainly the Southern 500 is I think special. I think you could ask anybody and that’s one that they would tell you that. Like I say, in my mind that’s one of the biggest races of the year and you always want to come here and try to run good.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is running double duty this weekend piloting the #20 GameStop Toyota in the Nationwide Series race Friday night. He was grilled on what impact, if any, running both races would have on his race Saturday in the Sprint Cup Series.
“It’s always debatable — there’s always an argument there whether it helps or doesn’t help or whatever. I think these places that you come to only once a year, I always find it nice to be able to get the extra track time. You’re on the same tire and can kind of see the changes that the track will go through racing at night. Learn a little bit about the tire combination and what it’s going to do in the longer run and that type of thing. I don’t think it hurts. Sometimes I’m not sure how much it helps just because the rules are quite a bit different. Certainly there’s places that you only get to once a year and it’s fun to come out and compete the night before and get some track time,” Kenseth explained.
Kenseth and the rest of the Sprint Cup Series regulars will get their first crack at the Darlington Raceway in practice which is scheduled to start at 11:30 PM EST.