Kenseth just going 'one week at a time'
September 17, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
He may or may not know that the gap between himself and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch is eight points.
With nine races remaining in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, point differentials are, well, pointless as far as Kenseth is concerned.
"You’re not going to buy this, but I don’t really think about the point lead that much," Kenseth said Tuesday during an appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "Yeah, I know we're leading but with nine weeks to go, that is just an incredible amount of racing.
"Now, if we were still leading … had a decent lead and you're 2-3 races from the end … maybe you start thinking about that. … But right now I really don't even think about it. I'm totally focused on the next race, trying to get the best finish we can get every week."
The series' most recent winner, Kenseth, 41, logged a career-best and series' leading sixth victory Sunday night at Chicagoland Speedway. Four of his wins have come on 1.5-mile tracks, which make up the bulk of the Chase schedule. Additional wins came on two of the series' more demanding tracks -- Darlington Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway.
"No matter what happens the last nine (races), it has been an incredible season," said Kenseth. "Yeah, if the wheels fell off the last nine weeks you'd be disappointed … but when you look back at it, it has been a pretty magical season with some of the things we've been able to do."
He and crew chief Jason Ratcliff aren't so close that they can complete each other’s sentences, but it's obvious that the two are working off the same page. Early in the season, Ratcliff often commended Kenseth for his ability to provide excellent feedback on the No. 20 Toyota and what changes might help improve the performance of the car.
Now, Kenseth says much of the team's strength lies in the crew chief, who he said "had done a really good job of no only calling the race, putting me in front and giving me an opportunity, but also making the right adjustments for when we’re up there."
It hasn't been a dominating season for the team -- Kenseth didn't rise to the top of the points standings until the Chase field was seeded based on bonus points for wins. But it's been more than solid enough to make him a threat to overpower the field down the stretch. Problems that have occasionally surfaced were dealt with and corrected. Issues haven't lingered.
"I do think that's one of the keys, when things are going bad not to get too far down in the ditch, and when they're going great, try not to get to high up in the clouds either," he said. "Try to find a happy medium there somewhere so you don't get distracted, good or bad, from what your goals are and what you have to accomplish next week.
"The sport moves so incredibly fast and believe me I enjoy the wins more than I have ever enjoyed them in my life. As I get older, you might not ever win a race or championship … so you have to learn to enjoy them."
With two wins and four consecutive finishes of 12th or better in its last four starts, Kenseth and his team appear to be back on an even keel. Steady and consistent.
Nine races remain, and the series is back in action this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. A lot can, and no doubt will, happen in the coming weeks.
"I feel like we’re certainly capable (of winning the title)," he said. "Whether we do or not remains to be seen.
"Just take it one week at a time, put forth our best effort and hope to get the finishes. … I feel like I have the best team in the garage and obviously we have very fast race cars. But being capable and … actually getting the numbers are two different things."