Matt Kenseth not worried about JGR’s slow start in 2017
Given how the four Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup teams have fared in the first two races of 2017, some observers might ask “What’s wrong with JGR?”
Two races into the season and at 15th in the standings, Matt Kenseth is the highest-ranked JGR driver, followed by Denny Hamlin (18th), Kyle Busch (24th) and rookie Daniel Suarez (30th).
Don’t count Kenseth among the naysayers. He’s adopted a “What, me worry? Nah.” attitude.
“Well, I mean, man, you’re only two weeks in,” Kenseth said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Really it’s hard to count Daytona. It’s so easy to get caught up in a wreck there, and like our wreck at Daytona, I really didn’t have anything to do with that. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there’s just nothing you can do about that.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in where you leave in the points standings after Daytona. I just never have because it doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the season.”
Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 winner, could not repeat in this year’s edition of the “Great American Race,” finishing 17th, tops of the four JGR drivers.
Suarez was next among the Gibbs crew (29th), followed by Kyle Busch (38th) and Kenseth (40th).
This past Sunday at Atlanta, Kenseth rebounded from his Daytona showing to become the highest-finishing JGR and Toyota-powered driver at third place.
Busch was next at (16th), followed by Suarez (21st) and Hamlin (38th).
Still, it’s not a lot to concern Kenseth this early in the season.
“Last week, Denny had mechanical failure, not sure about Kyle,” Kenseth said. “I thought we ran pretty well really the whole day. We just had those (two) speeding penalties.
“As far as that, we knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast. When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments. Where now you went through them last weekend so fast like if you ever did get one light over or whatever, there was no time to correct.
“But for us we just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”