Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Matt Kenseth: Mr. Cool. Will that be the crucial dynamic in this Daytona 500?

  The 2003 NASCAR Cup tour champion and 2009 Daytona winner. But Matt Kenseth wants 2010 to be a bounceback season (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Now there are two ways of  looking this Daytona 500.
   First, that it could be wild and crazy, with hard, aggressive moves like Jeff Gordon pulled on Greg Biffle at the end of Saturday's Shootout.
   If so, this could be a last-man-standing 500.
   And if so, the man to bet on would probably have to be Matt Kenseth, typically the coolest guy out on the track, and one of the best at surviving.
   Plus Kenseth's attitude even during that Ford slump last season was fairly upbeat, particularly compared to his down-in-the-dumps teammates.
   Second, that this 500 could – like old-school here – simply go to the man with the fastest car.
   But, uh, who has the fastest car?
   Consider that Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the front row for the 500 start....and yet just hours later were non-factors in the Shootout. Yes, those were different cars, but with the car-of-tomorrow, hardly that much different.
   And consider how strong Carl Edwards ran in the Shootout after drawing the pole. Jamie McMurray pointed out that no one could pass Edwards.  Yet in 500 qualifying there were 25 men faster than Edwards.
   With little a stake in Thursday's 150s, and with drivers running their 500 cars, it's unclear how aggressive they will want to be. (And still a big question – why does Daytona still run these two one-hour sprints on Thursday afternoons, instead of in prime TV time?)
    So far NASCAR has adhered to its hands-off policy and is letting drivers police themselves. Where is the line that will prompt NASCAR officials to penalize a driver for aggressive driving?
   Did Jeff Gordon's hard move on Biffle Saturday night set the standard?
   Just before that race Kenseth said "the drivers do a pretty good job of policing themselves.
   "You've got to race with these guys for 38 weeks, and you're not going to wrong somebody on purpose, or try to cause the wreck.
    "You're hopefully going to stop before you get to that edge...no matter what track you're at."
    But then Kenseth agrees with Kevin Harvick that Daytona can be filled with oddities: "SpeedWeeks last year was really weird because it was really frustrating for me all week...and then obviously it was the best it could have possibly been in the 500 -- we missed the wreck, we started in the back and worked our way all the way to the front.
    "I hope it's not that hard this year."
    Not just here but in the coming weeks too. Last year for the first time Kenseth failed to make the playoff cut.
    Last season Kenseth concedes "was really disappointing. 
    "To come out of the box and win the first two -- and one of them a plate race – I wasn't even really considering we were going to fall out of the top-12, as consistent as we usually are.
   "Then to go to Vegas and break on the first lap and finish last, that was a reality check.
    "It was just really difficult from there on out.  We could never really get everything to go exactly right.
    "We were brimming with confidence after California...and then for two or three months we just couldn't get anything to go right.    
    "The main thing is that our cars weren't fast enough.  If we unloaded faster, as an organization, every Friday at the track, we probably would have made the chase.
    "But because our cars weren't very fast, if we didn't do everything perfect race day, we didn't get good finishes at all.
    "If we did everything perfect, we'd finish 12th to 16th; if we didn't, we were 25th.
    "Really 2008 and 2009 have probably been two of the most frustrating years of my career."
     So will 2010 be the turnaround?
     A lot of other teams are hoping for big turnarounds too.
     "I think we've improved our cars a lot," Kenseth said. "But to be honest, you don't really know where you're at until four or five weeks into the season."



      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


     Matt Kenseth (R) and crew chief Drew Blickenderfer, heading into their second season together (Photo: Autostock)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com