Special Motorsports Event - Off-Season Sprint Cup Test With Matt Kenseth
Charlotte, Dec. 11, 2012:
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How did the morning test session go with your new team? "It's gone pretty good except for the last half hour. I guess it was a good icebreaker. I've been kind of nervous coming into this morning and walking to a different truck and a different team and all of that stuff. Anyway, my last run I proceeded to go from second gear to first gear and over-revved the engine so they're back there changing it. So, I think the guys are in love with me right now. Like, 'Where did we find this clown? Give us the other one back.' Other than that it's been good."
How does the 2013 Camry compare to the car you finished the 2012 season with? "There's a lot of things different, especially for me, because it's all different than what I'm used to running. But, the cars feel good. They've got a ton of grip. I felt like they had a lot of rear grip especially with that cambered rear end. I'm not sure if that's necessary or not, but overall just seems like a lot more grip than when we raced here in the fall."Do you know all of the guys on your team yet? "A lot of them guys have been around for a long time so I know who they are and I've spent a little time over at the shop. I certainly don't know them as good as I'm going to or want to and all of that. So, yeah, it was different. I've got to be honest, it was probably the first time I've been nervous in a race car -- getting in there and going out for the first time -- in as long as I can remember. It's always exciting and you're a little anxious when you go do something different. It's been fun so far."
Does it take time to build a relationship with your new crew chief Jason Ratcliff? "Yeah, it takes time to get to know each other especially at the track. How you do things and all of that stuff is certainly more than a couple of hours. But, it was really good. I spent a lot of time with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) here the last month or so and getting to know all of the guys a lot better -- spending some time over there getting to know the technical guys and all of that a lot more. Like I said, it's only noon on the first day, but I've been really impressed how organized they are and how they approach things."
Do you expect a lot of changes on the new car before you actually race it at Charlotte Motor Speedway? "Well, I don't know. I don't know what the rules are going to be for sure. I don't have any idea how much they're going to change or not change. That's more of a NASCAR call than ours. They haven't really had us testing anything yet and I wasn't involved in any other 2013 stuff, so I'm not sure how different they will be when we come back. But, I think it's a great place to test. It's really consistent. The tires don't really drop off. You can go in and out. It's fairly smooth. We race here a lot during the year, more than anywhere else, I guess, as far as mileage. I think it's a good place close to home and we can learn a lot of stuff. I still think even if they make some rules changes, I think there's still a lot we can learn here."
Did you over-rev the engine because you aren't familiar with these engines? "No. There's a couple of things probably to work on there -- the shifter or whatever, but it's just me. My fault. Everything is different inside there and I just put it in first gear instead of third and it didn't work out too good. It didn't blow it up, but they just changed it for precautions. Like I said, my guys are real impressed."
Was the height of the new spoiler an adjustment for you? "It's pretty tall. I wouldn't want it any taller, so yeah. I haven't really been around any other cars and I haven't really looked out the back too much or had anybody close to me to really look at it. But, it does seem pretty big and obstructs your view a little bit more than you had before. But, on pit road when we were parked there waiting you can still see the tops of other cars. It kind of reminds me of the Nationwide cars a few years ago before they went to the new version of the cars. They had pretty big spoilers on them. You couldn't really see cars when they were right up behind you."
Why were you so nervous today? "I just didn't want to do anything stupid like I did, pretty much. I don't know. I guess I shouldn't say nervous, just kind of anxious walking -- it's just different, you know. Just go find a different group of guys in a different hauler and a different car and everything is different inside the car. Just to get used to it. I couldn't wait to get to the track today and honestly I can't wait to get back in the car here in a little bit."
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) Does the 2013 car feel like the old style of the car prior to the COT? "Man, I don't know. That's a long time ago. Compared to the fall here, I guess I just feel like we've got a lot more grip, which I think we do. Some of the mechanical stuff they did with the rear end and I think we have a little bit more down force than what we had before and we have a nice, cool day. I just feel like we have more grip. Other than that, I don't really notice a big difference, but it is my first time in a car. I've only got about 30 laps in one. I didn't do any of the other 2013 testing and haven't been around any cars either."
Will teams be able to 'trick out' the new cars like they did with the COT? "I think that NASCAR is constantly making rules -- they always have -- to react to things that teams learn through the years. So, I think that they're always reacting to that and getting the tolerances closer and making more rules to keep you from doing things. So, certainly in the back I think the yaw is the same as what it was before. It seemed like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) got on a -- running their cars sideways."