Our weekly interview series with Chase drivers continues with 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth. The Roush Fenway Racing driver enters Dover 12th in points, but has five straight top-five finishes at the Delaware track.
What's the best race you've ever driven?
MK: I don't know. I don't know if I've ever driven a good one. Shoot, I can't think of one offhand, to be honest with you.
Who is the most talented driver in NASCAR?
MK: It's hard to say, because everybody has their different strengths and weaknesses, but probably overall, Tony Stewart. Just because he's one of the very few people – or the only person – that's had success in pretty much everything from winged sprints to non-winged sprints to asphalt to dirt to the IRL to Cup. He's the only guy I can think of offhand that's been able to get into anything with four wheels on it and win.
What's the best time for a fan to approach you for an autograph during race weekend?
MK: Well the best time is when we're having an autograph session somewhere at the track. During practice and stuff when we're working on the cars is never really a good time because we're thinking about racing.
What's something fans may not know or understand about you?
MK: Heck, I don't know. It seems like I've been doing this for awhile and from all the media stuff we've done in the last 13 years, there's not a lot fans either don't know about me or can't find out about me – even in (my) personal life. I don't really have any idea what hasn't been covered, honestly.
What's the worst track on the NASCAR circuit?
MK: Well, my least favorite is Martinsville, even though it's a really neat facility and if I was a fan, I would enjoy watching races there. But it's probably one of my worst tracks, the one I dislike the most. It's just so slow and I've never ran great there. It's frustrating – you either get ran into or run into somebody. It's a track I don't really look forward to going to.
Pocono is probably the crappiest track we go to. It's a track that needs major upgrades, in my opinion, to keep a Cup race. It's by far the most dangerous track with all that grass and the old guard rail that they used to run in the '60's and stuff. That needs to be all fixed.
What driver outside of NASCAR do you most admire?
MK: Probably Steve Kinser. When the World of Outlaw races always used to be on TV back in the day, when they were on TNN and stuff, I always used to spend a lot of time watching them and it just amazed me. Not just the talent, but the guts them guys had. Down there working on his own car, being half-inch from the wall running wide open. It was just amazing the stuff they would do. I admired him a lot because you'd see him all dirty and sweaty and working on his own stuff, and that's kind of what racing is all about.
How long do you see your career lasting? Would you like to drive at Mark Martin age?
MK: I don't think so, but I think if you were to ask Mark when he was my age if he thought he'd still be driving at 50, he probably would have said no way. I think that's hard to predict. These days, you've seen a lot of good drivers struggle to stay in a good program. I mean, I think it really depends on your performance and how successful you can keep your program.
I don't really know what I would do if I didn't do this, and I love doing this, so I'd like to think I can continue to do it at a high level for awhile.
What's the first thing you do when you get home at the end of a long race weekend?
MK: The first thing I do is turn the alarm off. Then I carry all our bags in. Then I usually fix the thermostats and turn the lights on. SBN: That was a very practical answer. MK: Yeah. In football season, though, I usually go straight to the basement and watch the Packers game on TiVo. As soon as I get home and get (1-year-old daughter) Kaylin situated, I go down there and watch the game. I try not to find out anything from the Packers game before that and watch it as if it was live. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.
Who wins the Sprint Cup in 2015?
MK: No idea. I don't know who's going to win it in 2010.
If you were in charge of NASCAR, what is one thing you would change?
MK: I don't have one thing, to be honest with you. And a driver's perspective is probably totally different than what makes business sense for the fans and all that. But I will say that I'm one of them guys that isn't really big on change. I appreciate the history of the sport and all that stuff – so I would probably look at changing some of the things back to how we used to race.
If a new driver approached you and asked you to recommend one driver they should learn from and one driver they shouldn't, who would you say?
MK: Heck, I don't know. I think that most drivers that have been here for awhile probably have good advice for young guys and would be happy to answer any good questions.
There's not really anyone I wouldn't send them to. And if there was, I probably wouldn't answer that question anyway.
Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?
MK: Well, a great person. That's easy. There are more important things than driving race cars: Trying to be a good example for my son and my daughter, trying to do the best you can raising them and being a good father and husband. That's way more important in life than driving race cars.