In 15 races this year, Matt Kenseth has a win, eight top fives and 11 top-10s to sit atop the standings, four points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“It is always nice to be leading in points I guess at this time of year,” said Kenseth, who led virtually the entire 2003 season en route to the Sprint Cup title. “You want to be as far ahead of 10th as you can be and as we all know it gets ranked by wins in the Chase.”
Kenseth adds that he would’ve hoped to have some more wins, but he’s happy with how the points have gone.
“Hopefully we get a couple more wins and stay where we are at in points and get into the Chase,” he adds.
However, entering Sonoma this weekend for the first road course event of the year, things will be different for the obvious reason that they’ll be turning both right and left.
“You go there thinking about different things because your driving style on approach, and things you do in the car, is a lot different,” Kenseth says. “We go to Sonoma working as hard as we can in practice to get our car to drive as good as it can because certainly there are a lot more opportunities for mistakes from a drivers standpoint at that track.”
Kenseth adds that Sonoma is always a challenge and he would like to improve there, though he also says that he looks forward to leaving on Sunday night.
In his previous starts at Sonoma, Kenseth has an average finish of 21.5 and has yet to lead a single lap. However, he has always found a way to complete most of the laps as he’s completed 98.3% of the laps.
“Hopefully we can get a good result and get our cars running better there,” Kenseth says. “All our cars were fast at Watkins Glen last year and hopefully we get them going fast at Sonoma this year.”
Last year, he finished 14th at Walkin’s Glen and that’s the car that crew chief Jimmy Fennig says they’re bringing after a shakedown they did at VIR in May. Though one of the keys will be strategy as Fennig says that fuel mileage is important.
“We’ll focus on that as well as just making sure that we help to give Matt a car that he can stay on the course and out of trouble with all day,” Fennig says. “Pit stops are also important for track position this weekend since it’s difficult to pass there.”