Don't count out Kenseth
Oft overlooked at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The winner of the Daytona 500 might just be the driver with the coolest head.
If a dry sense of humor played into the equation, Matt Kenseth would be a lead-pipe cinch. Until he won a 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday, Kenseth was overshadowed by his Roush Fenway teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who will start NASCAR’s premier race on the front row.
Biffle’s first Sprint Cup victory occurred at Daytona International Speedway. Edwards finished second a year ago. But the only driver ever to win the 500 in one of Jack Roush’s Fords was Kenseth in 2009. He finished second to then-teammate David Ragan in last July’s Coke Zero 400.
Kenseth, who turns 40 on March 10, has the ability to think things through, on track and off. As an example, consider his take on NASCAR’s decision to ban radio communication between drivers during a race.
“If you’re doing a two-car tandem, then having the radios is safer,” he said. “Not having the radios also helps (to) not have the two-car tandem (because it’s harder to team up). I don’t think we need to be talking to everyone else. I think you have your own spotter talking to you and you pay attention to what is going on.
“I think that, with pack racing, if you’re talking with other people, it can create a lot of confusion. I’m sure there are deals made during the yellows, or whatever, but if it comes down to the end, you’re going to try to negotiate that anyway through your spotter.”
Kenseth, from Cambridge, Wis., has gotten more than his share of bum raps. Because he won only once in 2003, when he claimed the final championship sponsored by Winston and the final one not decided by a Chase, he has often been praised for consistency. Yet he once won six races in a single year and has 21 career victories.
At Daytona, Kenseth has finished eighth or better in six of his last eight races. Included in that total are a first, a second and a third.
He can close the Daytona deal.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/monteduttonK