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Matt Kenseth focused on another strong run after Bristol victory

Toyota Owners 400 - Practice

Toyota Owners 400 - Practice

Daniel Shirey

RICHMOND, Va. - Matt Kenseth says he won’t change his mindset even after his victory last weekend at Bristol all but assures him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“I hope the team’s doesn’t either, really, to be honest with you,’’ Kenseth said Friday morning at Richmond International Raceway. “I think that every week you show up with the idea of trying to qualify the best you can and trying to win the race. If you can’t win, you want to finish second. If you can’t finish second, you want to finish third. You always want to do the best you can.

“I’ve never been to the race track and not wanted to win, to do my best, or not wanted to finish the best I could. I just don’t feel like any of that changes. I know that where you are in the point standings doesn’t have a big effect to where they rack you up when September comes along, but, man, we’re only in April and we want to race hard every week and try to get the best results we can every week for our team and our sponsors and everybody involved.”

Kenseth’s victory at Bristol marked his third consecutive top-10 finish at a short track, dating to last season. He’s scored a top-10 finish in six of the last seven short tracks, going back to last year.

Kenseth, though, is not ready to predict another repeat performance.

“This is one of those tracks that for me is very, very hard to predict,’’ Kenseth said. “Even after practice is over and qualifying is over, it’s still hard for me to predict. It seems like the track changes so much from practice here in the sun in the middle of the day to the race once you get going at night. It’s a tough one really until you get into the race.”

After this week, the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway and then runs on 1.5-mile tracks at Kansas and then Charlotte for the Sprint All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600. How does Kenseth feel the team’s 1.5-mile program is progressing?

“I mean, before Texas I thought it improved quite a bit from last year,’’ said Kenseth who placed 23rd at Texas. “I thought Atlanta (fifth-place finish) we ran better, had some decent speed. I thought it was improving. California (Auto Club Speedway) was really, really good – I know that’s not a mile-and-a-half, but it’s a big ‘ole, wore out, fast track. I thought we all ran really well there, qualified well and ran well and had ourselves in position. I feel like we’re gaining. We’ve got a lot new stuff coming here pretty soon that we think will be better – we don’t really know without testing until we get to the track and race it a few times. We hope it’s better. I felt like it’s getting better.”

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