This year’s Daytona 500 had a little bit of everything: a rain delay on Sunday that eventually turned into a postponement to Monday night, a major wreck on just the second lap of the race, a two-hour delay after a crash and jet dryer explosion and then a green-white-checker restart at the end. When the dust settled, it was Matt Kenseth who was able to pull through all of those things and hang on through the furious finish to win NASCAR’s first race of the season. Don’t tell him he simply survived all of that to earn the title though, because as he puts it, he had the fastest car out there.
Matt Kenseth joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss the difference between driving during the day and at night, if he had a chance to celebrate late on Monday night, his wife collecting beers from other motor home drivers, how he would describe the race to someone that didn’t see it, how he won the race and what happens to his car now.
What’s the difference between driving during the day and at night for you?:
“Well, it’s the difference of night and day. It’s a night-and-day difference. No, the biggest thing is I think it’s really cool for the fans at night because even though the cars are approximately the same speed, I feel like it always looks faster. You get to see the sparks fly and, to me, the racing just seems sometimes more exciting at night. I thought that was a great audible by NASCAR after looking at the weather forecast and getting rained out Sunday, to move it to primetime Monday night. I think that was great for everybody that wanted to watch, especially at home.”
It got done at 1 a.m. How much sleep did you get Monday night?:
“I got just about exactly an hour. Not enough for me.” Did you celebrate?: “You know, we did a little bit. By the time I was done with everything, I went back to our motor home and I was getting kind of cleaned up and hanging out with Katie for a couple hours because she had to get up with the kids early and leave [Tuesday] morning. So I was just going to hang out with her a little bit and some of my crew guys were back there kind of walking around the trailer park down there trying to find beer in a cooler. … So it was kind of fun. It kind of reminded me of a Saturday night race.”
Have you ever knocked on somebody else’s RV for a beer?:
“I didn’t, actually it was pretty cool. I’ve got the best wife ever and she was kind of half in her pajamas and everything and she was walking around talking to some of the motor home drivers because we didn’t really have any beer in the motor home, and asked them all for beer in a cooler. It was pretty funny. She was walking around and came through for the guys.”
If somebody didn’t see the race, how would you describe it?:
“Oh man, you saw a little bit of everything. As far as most of the accidents, I wasn’t really around them … so I’m not really sure what happened in all of those, but it was a crazy race with Juan’s car breaking and hitting that jet dryer and that thing exploding like a Hollywood movie. I guess stuff really does explode if you hit it hard enough. I thought that was just in the movies.”
Did you win the race or did you survive?:
“I feel like we won. We had a really fast car. We were able to win the 150-mile qualifier on Thursday and I felt like my teammate Greg Biffle and I had the fastest cars. We had to overcome a lot of early adversity to get in a position to win that thing. We had to go through three or four restarts there at the end and keep that thing up front.”
What happens to the car now?:
“The car gets put over in what they used to call Daytona USA. I don’t know what they call it anymore, but there’s a building out in front of the speedway where you can sign up and do track tours.” Don’t you want to use that car again?: “I think I want to drive it at Talladega twice and Daytona one more time. The restricter plate speedway cars are just a little different than the rest and if you get a good one you want to keep running it. That’s part of it, and to win the Daytona 500, you’re happy to give up your car.”