News & Media

Kenseth tours country after Daytona 500 victory

March 04, 2012, Jarrod Breeze,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Made stops in Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco before Phoenix

NASCAR's rain- and fire-delayed Daytona 500 made for a short week for teams with a trip to Phoenix on the horizon, especially for the hauler drivers who had to cover the 2,610 miles it took a transporter to travel from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Mooresville, N.C., and on to Avondale Ariz., site of Phoenix International Raceway, by 5 a.m. local time Friday.

For Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth, time was of the essence as well, as his Winner's Tour schedule took him cross country, with notable stops in Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Phoenix has proven to be a bit of a respite, until he has the opportunity to go home.

"A lot of people never get to win that race and to be able to win two of them, I have certainly enjoyed it."


"I had a great week. It was really busy and it probably won't sink in until I get home for a few days. I had a really good time," said Kenseth, who knew what to expect after a similar experience following his 2009 Daytona 500 victory.

"The first year we won it in 2009 was one of the more fun weeks I have had, honestly," said the rather unassuming Kenseth. "It was almost as fun as when we won the [Cup Series] championship [in 2003].

"The week was fun, too. It was different because the race went off so late Monday. We didn't get a lot of sleep and it was crazy. We still did a lot of stuff."

Kenseth was courtside with Texas Motor Speedway president and good friend Eddie Gossage for a Dallas Mavericks game, less than 24 hours after his early morning celebration Tuesday at Daytona. He later moved on to California, where on Wednesday his stops included an appearance on The Tonight Show, when he traded quips with host Jay Leno.

"Going to the Leno show was probably the highlight for me. That was fun," said Kenseth, who in 2009 had been on the Late Show with David Letterman. "To get up and speak in front of people is sometimes nerve-wracking for me. I was nervous but I had a really good time doing that.

"I know it was just a short segment but Jay Leno was really nice. ... He took some time with us, made us feel comfortable, did a little rehearsal and even changed some jokes a little bit for me and added some things I thought were funnier and stuff. He told me that if I thought it sounded better like this, to go ahead and do it."

The tour wrapped in the Northern California wine country and San Francisco, where Kenseth toured the Bay city on-board a motorized cable car before backtracking to Phoenix.

"I am excited to be here in Phoenix," he said. "I always feel like after Daytona, no matter how it goes, that you get to Phoenix and start the rest of the season. Daytona is our biggest race of the year and you put a lot of effort and emphasis on that and I feel like once that is over you come here and get ready to get serious about the next six or seven months and hopefully try to get qualified for the Chase."

It's been a whirlwind week, but Kenseth, who said he almost feels normal following a tiring Tuesday -- after getting plenty of rest the past few nights -- wouldn't have traded places with any of his Cup counterparts.

"Whenever you can win a race like that you need to enjoy it," Kenseth said of the Daytona 500. "A lot of people never get to win that race and to be able to win two of them, I have certainly enjoyed it."