Still in 12th in the Chase points standings after Sunday's win at Talladega, Matt Kenseth's championship hopes are pretty much nonexistent in his final season at Roush Fenway Racing, and Kenseth said Tuesday that the win was integral in helping him feel better about he and the team's split when they officially part ways in six more races.
"Well, it's made me feel a little bit better about certain things," Kenseth said."I mean, it's really important for me to finish this thing off on a high note. It would just break my heart if the thing was broken when I left. So I certainly didn't want that."
"And we had a really rough few weeks in The Chase with parts breaking and following off and not getting good finishes and not running good and everybody was getting close to being at each other's throats and things like that. So it's important for me to try to really try to keep that whole unit as a cohesive front-running championship-contending unit. So I'm hoping in the next six weeks we can continue this momentum, hoping we can get another win or two and finish as high as we can in the points and end this thing on a high note."
Kenseth was the series' best driver at restrictor plate tracks this season, also winning the Daytona 500 and finishing third twice. Drivers rarely move on to other teams when things are going well, so that's one reason that Kenseth became just the third different Chase driver, along with Tony Stewart in 2008 and Kurt Busch last year, to win a Chase race the season before leaving for a new team. But Kenseth said that once he met with Joe and JD Gibbs, his decision to take over the driving duties of the No. 20 wasn't as difficult as you might have expected.
"When I've talked to Joe and JD and went and saw some of their stuff and spent some time with them, I just really felt like that was the right place for me," Kenseth said. "I felt really comfortable with everything. I feel really good about their stuff, when you watch how good all their cars perform on the racetrack and how many races they win and all that kind of stuff, I just felt like that was the place for me."
"It really wasn't as hard or I wasn't probably as conflicted as one might think."