While Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave one of his last TV interviews as a Cup driver in the middle of a loud throng of crew members and fans, Matt Kenseth‘s was typical of the 2003 Cup champion.
After finishing eighth, the 45-year-old driver spoke to NBC’s Kelli Stavast in a much quieter part of pit road by himself.
A week after his emotional win at Phoenix, Kenseth said he “didn’t think about much in the last 20 laps” of the Ford EcoBoost 400, likely the last race of his NASCAR career.
The only thing on his mind was “getting by the 2 car” of Brad Keselowski for one more position.
“Obviously, last week was a magical week or race – to win that race and then this week has been really fun,” said Kenseth, who won his 39th Cup race last Sunday. “The pre-race stuff was really fun. I was glad Katie (wife) was able to get down here and all and having the kids here, my dad, my sister and everybody.
“It was really fun, obviously, what DeWalt did with this paint job and Habitat for Humanity, but doing my rookie paint job was cool as well. So it was a really cool day.”
Kenseth and Earnhardt each drove the paint schemes from their 2000 rookie years. Before the race, Kenseth and Earnhardt’s cars were placed together on the starting grid so the long-time friends could take in the moment together.
Two hundred and sixty-seven laps later, Earnhardt finished 25th, three laps down. Kenseth took his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota to his 327th top-10 finish.
His Phoenix win gave him 181 top fives.
Kenseth was asked what he hoped his legacy, which spans more than 20 years on the NASCAR circuit, would turn out to be.
“Some people are going to like you, some people aren’t,” Kenseth said “Some people are going to respect you, some people won’t. So I mean, whatever people think, they think. I did the best I could every week. Didn’t always do the right thing, that’s for sure, but raced as hard as I could and at the time I always felt like I was trying to do the right thing and gave it my all every time I went to the race track, so that’s all I could do.”
Watch the above video for the full interview.