Tag:Matt Kenseth
Posted on: January 13, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 12:46 pm

2011 Team Review/Preview: Roush Fenway Racing

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Edwards damaged his car in the post-race celebration but was still the All-Star Race winner at Charlotte in May)


Roush Fenway Racing couldn’t have missed out on the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship any closer than it did. Unfortunately the organization and Carl Edwards has the dubious distinction of being the only team to miss out on a title by virtue of a tiebreaker, thanks to Tony Stewart’s five victories in the season. 

But the season turned in by Edwards was still impressive and overall RFR enjoyed another banner campaign even if the Sprint Cup trophy didn’t accompany team owner Jack Roush home from Homestead. 

“I’m 69 years old, and I had a couple of chances to look at my own mortality and think about what I have done with my life,” Roush said trying to put the disappointment in perspective. “Looking at the end of your time in the mirror thinking that you missed an opportunity that could have ended your time probably did more to sober me than anything else.”

Edwards won one race during the year in addition to taking home a one million dollar payday in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was otherwise the model of consistency. Edwards finished second seven times and although he managed an average finish of 4.9 in the Chase (the best in the format’s history), it wasn’t enough to stop the Stewart and his incredible drive to the title. 

"If I look back on this Chase, there's not one thing that I say that I'd have done or wish I had done,” Edwards said. “I'm truly proud of this season." 

The year also included some contract drama for Edwards who after entertaining offers from other teams including Joe Gibbs Racing signed a contract extension to remain in the Roush camp. 

Edwards’ teammate Matt Kenseth had another typically consistent year that saw the former series champion return to victory lane with multiple victories.

Kenseth finished the season fourth in the series standings and scored three wins along the way, including a victory at Texas Motor Speedway in April to snap a 76-race winless drought.

Through it all, Kenseth was his usual low-key self and didn't mind if others received more attention.

“What’s important to me is trying to win races and trying to be competitive and doing the best job we can do every week," Kenseth said. "I don’t really care about Wii dance-offs or how much coverage you get for doing certain things. If somebody wants to say I’m boring or whatever, I was hired to try to win races and try to run good and that’s what I try to do every week.” 

His undoing may have come at Martinsville when he was swept up into a feud with Brian Vickers that ended with Kenseth in a wrecked race car and took him from championship contention. 

“I wish Matt hadn’t lost his mind at Martinsville and taken himself out of contention,” said a disappointed Roush. “Finishing fourth in points is commendable but he wasn’t challenging for the championship at Homestead, which we had hoped for.” 

Greg Biffle went through the campaign winless and could finish no higher than sixteenth in the standings. A variety of pit road miscues as well as mechanical problems added to Biffle’s frustrations. 

“We didn’t win a race with Greg Biffle and we should have,” Roush said. “We should have won more races with Carl but we didn’t – either because of decisions we made on pit road or because of the way things unfolded on the race track in regards to weather. Sometimes a wreck and a caution that would occur would frustrate your best-made plans and strategy.” 

Finally David Ragan became a first-time Sprint Cup Series winner with his victory at Daytona in the July Coke Zero 400. Ragan nearly won the Daytona 500 but was penalized for an illegal pass on a late race restart but was able to rebound with the trip to victory lane in the annual Fourth of July weekend race. 

However it was a pressure-filled year for Ragan who was forced to compete not knowing what his future would be with the team given sponsorship issues with long-time backer UPS. 

In the end UPS pulled its full-time sponsorship from the No. 6 car and Ragan was squeezed out when Roush was forced to downsize his team to three cars for 2012. 

While Roush was hoping to keep Ragan in the fold, he was disappointed at his overall performance during his career with the team. 

“David Ragan was a frustration and disappointment for all of us because he was not able to realize the potential given what his skill is, what the expectations of the sponsor were and what the performance was being demonstrated in the car and the engineering package was,” Roush said.


The streamlined Roush stable brings Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth back for 2012 and hopes to avoid a hangover effect of just missing out on last year’s championship. 

Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne feel confident they can put last year’s disappointment behind and concentrate on finishing the job this season. 

“I’ve accepted the fact that we didn’t win it, but I’m also really excited about the way we could potentially run this year,” Edwards said. “I feel more confident than I’ve felt ever, and kind of more calm because I know we can do it.” 

Kenseth has found chemistry with old school crew chief Jimmy Fennig and with the core of the No. 17 team back as well as a host of new sponsors including newcomer Best Buy, the duo looks forward to challenging for this year’s crown. 

“We won races last year which was big and were in the Chase,” said Kenseth. “It didn’t work out the way we’d hoped in the end but I have no reason to think we won’t be strong again this year and back in the hunt for wins and a Chase spot.” 

Biffle believes having a full season with crew chief Matt Puccia, who replaced veteran Greg Erwin at mid-season, will be beneficial in the No. 16 team’s rebuilding process.

“I can’t say enough about Matt and how he helped bring this team together when he came in,” said Biffle. “That’s a tough thing to do and once we can eliminate mistakes and hopefully some of the bad luck we endured last year we’re gonna be in the mix I promise you that.”



The last driver to come up on the short end of a Sprint Cup title in dramatic fashion was Denny Hamlin when he lost to Jimmie Johnson in 2010 title race. Hamlin and his team was never able to recover from the experience. The pressure will be on Edwards and Osborne to avoid a similar fate. Kenseth should again be his sneaky self and find his way into the Chase but he’ll need to not let the wheels fall off his championship hopes again. Biffle was a bit of a mystery last season and still appears to be a long shot to make the playoffs. Overall the leaner Roush organization will be a factor for wins and Chase berths.


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Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:39 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:17 pm

Matt Kenseth meets Daytona media

Posted by Pete Pistone

Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth met the assembled media during Thursday's NASCAR preseason Thunder test session at Daytona International Speedway to discuss the upcoming season, new sponsor Best Buy, a bet with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his involvement on Twitter among other topics:

“That was huge for us obviously winning that race. It is a very unique and different race but it is still the sports biggest race of the year. I think everybody that ever grew up watching stock car racing or wanted to race stock cars has dreamed of winning the Daytona 500 so that was certainly a cool day.”

“How did I know that was going to be the first question? I will try to scrounge it up somewhere I guess. This should count though; this is like three days (beard growth). Back when he was younger he would have had enough beers in him that he wouldn’t have remembered that.”

“Well, I kind of grew a beard in the off season for awhile, for a couple reasons. He had a ‘70’s party and I put a picture on Twitter so I am sure you saw it but I had a fu manchu going and the pork chop things. He bet me that I wouldn’t keep at least the fu manchu through the test. I was actually going to and it looked really stupid but I hate losing any money and he kept upping the money and upping the money until finally I said okay. I checked first to make sure I didn’t have any photos and then I get a call saying that I had a photo shoot here and an interview there and anyway I guess I lost. Although technically this should count, it is three days old.”

“I am really excited that Best Buy has come on board for nine races. That is a good start. They have a lot of races that are empty on our car, still two-thirds of the season, but I am grateful they came on for the Daytona 500 to get us started and are an associate on our car all year. They are with Carl’s car too. They have been a great sponsor of the sport and been around a long time and I am proud to fly those colors and hopefully we can have some success with them.”

“I don’t know that it will change a lot. It is still pretty big. We have the three cars and Ricky is running some races, at least the 500 he is here testing, and you still have the two Petty cars in there too. I guess if there is anything to be concerned or to think about it is the important people we have lost through the off season. People in the organization that had access to everything and are now pretty much at every single different team in the garage. Anything you had that you maybe thought was an advantage last year with things we learned have disappeared. That will make us work extra hard to find something that is better to get an edge on some of those guys again.”

“The more rules they make and the more people that leave and come and go and do all that stuff certainly makes it more even or gets information around the garage. It seems like there has been some downsizing and less teams. It will be different. I think the competition has been great and I think will be as even as it was. I don’t know how anybody is going to get a big advantage, at least for very long this day in age with all these rules anyway. It won’t spread the field apart farther.”

“Well, we are doing single car runs so it is hard to tell as far as handling or anything like that. Our speeds are way up compared to what we are used to doing the last couple years. I am interested to see if they try to race this restrictor plate I think we will be going really fast. I have seen 195 on the straightaway today by yourself and if you get locked together you probably to another 10 miles per hour. That I think the cars will have to handle. I am anxious to get into a group and see what it is like and if you can draft normal and if it is going to be two cars. I am anxious to see that and feel it from the car and what the handling is like. I like the ideas they have come up with as far as the smaller spoiler and going faster and trying to make the cars handle because it is going to be hard to make them not handle here because of the new pavement but if you can make them not handle it is going to be harder to push someone around the track.”

“I don’t know. It seems to be kind of the, I don’t want to say the craze, but it is a new outlet to reach more people. I think everyone is using that, not just in NASCAR but all sports. It seems less people pick up the phone and talk face to face. More people text and tweet and Facebook and all that stuff. I guess it is just the way it is. I have enjoyed it as a different avenue to interact with my fans mostly and show a different side of me. More than anything I use it to interact with the fans more than I can at the race track when I am pretty focused on what I am doing and more serious. I think it kind of gives me a chance to pick it up or put it down whenever and interact with them a little.”

“You still want your car to handle better than everybody else’s but in general if everyone can hold it wide open, even if their car isn’t set up as good as somebody else, everyone can do it without thinking about it then it makes everyone group up more or push more. If you look at a few years ago, probably two or three years ago on new tires everyone could run wide open and it was two or three-wide and a crazy race. Then it was two wide, then single wide and you would see the cars that could handle really good could almost pass by themselves without someone drafting. From most drivers point of views I think that was the most fun restrictor plate racing that we had. I don’t think you are going to get it back like that for probably not as long as I drive because it will take a long time to run the tracks down that much to where they slip and slide that much, unless they get a really small hard tire on them or something. If you are having a hard time getting around a corner by yourself you can’t get pushed or you will get spun out. I think that is some of the idea of putting a smaller spoiler on there is to make them a little harder to drive.”
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Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:58 pm

Roush Fenway announces major layoffs

By Pete Pistone

Roush Fenway Racing will scale back its operation in 2012 and as a by product layoff more than 100 employees

The team plans to run three Sprint Cup Series entries next season with the No. 6 Ford, driven this year by David Ragan, being shuttered due to the lack of sponsorship.

The Nationwide Series championship team will also dial down its involvement in NASCAR's number two division from three full time rides to one car on the entire tour and another running a partial schedule.

RFR spokesman Kevin Woods did confirm layoffs will take place but did not place a number on the number of people who will lose jobs as a result of the decisions.

“We’ll have probably three Cup teams and one and one-half Nationwide teams next season,” Woods said. “Do the math. We had to right-size the organization to get to that number.

“It’s an ongoing process that’s not complete.”
While Roush has full funding for Carl Edwards' No. 99 entry as well as the No. 16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle, the organization does not have complete sponsorship sold for the No. 17 ride of Matt Kenseth.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:48 am

Idle Thoughts: Paybacks out of control

By Pete Pistone

The 2011 NASCAR season is one race away from going into the record book. All three of the sanctioning body’s top divisions have featured tight championship battles going down to the wire but none closer than the three points separating Cart Edwards from Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But when the Cup champion is finally crowned in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway it might be the second most memorable story of the season.

Unfortunately a year marred by a series of intentional paybacks and retaliation is what 2011 may be most remembered for producing.

The “Boys Have at It” era reached yet another low last Sunday in Phoenix when Brian Vickers purposely put Matt Kenseth into the wall as an obvious carryover from their feud at Martinsville two weeks earlier.

Kenseth said he knew it was coming because Vickers had told people all week he planned to extract more revenge for the duo’s several tangles at Martinsville. Vickers denied the accusation saying Kenseth does still have one coming except what happened at Phoenix wasn’t it.

"I wasn't planning on paying him back," Vickers said. "He wrecked me at Martinsville; he got wrecked here. I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back; I'm just saying that wasn't it." 

NASCAR saw it as a “racing incident” and did nothing to punish Vickers chalking it up to just two drivers competing for the same piece of real estate. 

But only a week earlier, the sanctioning body came down with a mighty blow on Kyle Busch for his intentional wrecking of Ron Hornaday in a Texas Motor Speedway truck race. Busch got parked for the remainder of the weekend’s races at TMS including Sunday’s Sprint Cup main event and was also fined $50,000 while being placed on probation until the end of the season. Busch’s problems continued through the following days when sponsors pulled out of agreements and team owner Joe Gibbs lowered the boom internally with disciplinary actions. 

All of which begs the question of what the difference was between what Busch did and how Vickers behaved on Sunday. 

It’s true that Busch’s actions took place well under caution and that certainly made it a much more egregious affair in the eyes of NASCAR. Insubordination is not a favorite display of behavior of the sanctioning body. 

But other than that it’s hard to make a case for Vickers at least not being parked for the remainder of the Phoenix race, as Busch was initially in the aftermath of the Texas tangle. 

The inconsistent enforcement in any of these cases has seriously impacted NASCAR’s credibility once again.

The intent of “Boys Have at It” was simple – to allow drivers to race each other hard and not worry about NASCAR stepping in and overly officiate races. 

Fans had cried for the return of “rubbin’ is racin” for years and when NASCAR decided to relax its grip the hope was to increase the level of competition and excitement. 

But now two years later the creed has turned things into a free for all and created an environment more in line with “wreckin’ is racin’,” which it is absolutely not. 

From the moment Carl Edwards flipped Brad Keselowski in a payback move at Atlanta in 2010, the Pandora’s Box was ripped wide open. NASCAR’s mild reaction of basically just probation for Edwards’ act set the bar for how this Wild West environment would be tolerated. 

It led to a multitude of intentional paybacks and retaliatory moves that weren’t limited to just the Sprint Cup Series but included ugly incidents in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Time and again NASCAR turned its head and refused to make any kind of call for even the most flagrant of fouls. 

And although there was supposedly some kind of line drawn after Busch’s actions in Texas, Sunday’s move by Vickers clearly demonstrates payback crashing is still very much an accepted form of behavior. 

It has to stop and immediately is not soon enough. 

NASCAR has to step up and do what major league professional sports leagues are supposed to do, govern their events and make the tough calls. Simply sitting back and letting drivers police themselves is not doing anything but giving every race the potential to turn into a county fair demolition derby rather than a big league auto racing event. 

It’s ironic that weekly short track officials around the country have less tolerance for the kind of behavior that many of the supposed best drivers in the world have been demonstrating. Any of the blatant spin outs or wrecks that have occurred across NASCAR’s top three divisions in the last two years would have resulted in a short track driver being parked or banned more often than not. 

But in NASCAR today it’s not penalized but rather encouraged. 

The off season is right around the corner and there will be plenty of time for NASCAR officials to discuss how to reign in this embarrassing behavior and provide some sanity to the sport.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:54 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 10:15 pm

Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers "have at it" again

By Pete Pistone

AVONDALE, Ariz. - The bad blood between Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers that boiled over in Martinsville two weeks ago hasn't gone away.

Depending on who you ask.

Vickers and Kenseth made contact in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in an incident the Roush Fenway Racing driver is sure was another payback.

"Obviously, it is retaliation for retaliation, I guess,'' said Kenseth, who insisted Vickers was telling people all week he planned on settling a score with a payback. "I was out of brakes and I was up on everybody and I saw him coming and I lifted at least 10 car lengths before where I normally would lift, and he drove in there at 165 miles per hour and cleaned us out.

"You have someone that has been telling everybody for four or five weeks that as soon as he got a chance at a fast racetrack, he was going to make it hurt and wipe us out. And they do nothing about it. It was so premeditated. It just surprises me that (NASCAR) didn't do anything."

NASCAR didn't agree with Kenseth's view of the situation and issued this statement after the race:

"Had we felt it was more than a racing incident, we would have reacted."

Vickers reportedly first admitted it was a payback but later had a different explanation.

"I don't know what happened," Vickers told the Associated Press. "He just lifted halfway down the backstretch. I was planning on paying him back, but he just lifted halfway down the backstretch. He just stopped. I don't know why.

"If he wants to doubt us, that's fine. He wrecked me at Martinsville, he got wrecked here, but it actually wasn't (payback). I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back, but I'm just saying that wasn't it."

The altercation again puts into question NASCAR's controversial "Boys Have at It" policy and how the sanctioning body does or does not enforce those guidelines.

Kenseth believes there's no room for such behavior at the highest level of stock car racing.

"We aren't racing street stocks at a quarter-mile track," Kenseth said, "so they need to figure out how to get the drivers to settle their differences in a different way and talk about it or figure it out or do something instead of using your car as a battering ram somewhere this fast." 

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:30 pm

Phoenix pole goes to Matt Kenseth

By Pete Pistone


AVONDALE, Ariz. - Matt Kenseth only needed one lap to win the pole for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Kenseth turned a lap of 137.101 mph to earn the third pole of his season and seventh in his Sprint Cup career.

A.J. Allmendinger will start outside the front row with Marcos Ambrose, Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. the first five.

Chase contenders Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards qualified eighth and ninth. But Edwards may have an advantage in starting on the inside of his row as the track's slick racing surface in the aftermath of the repaving and reconfiguration project appears to have only a single groove near the bottom.

Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 is slated for a 3:15 p.m. ET start.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:31 am

Video of the Day: Kenseth, Vickers tangle

Posted by Pete Pistone

Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers engaged in a couple of spats during Sunday's TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

Posted on: October 20, 2011 2:41 pm

Video: Matt Kenseth on Inside NASCAR

Moving up to third in the points standing, Matt Kenseth visits the studios of Inside NASCAR to discuss his winning strategy from Charlotte Motor Speedway, and his plans for the remaining races of the season.

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