CONCORD, N.C. — The wit returned and the frustration departed for Matt Kenseth on Friday.
After winning the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kenseth was asked to recount his run.
“The whole thing?’’ he asked.
Yes, he was told.
“Well, I got on pit road and started the engine,’’ he said, displaying the dry humor that the sport has missed since he ended last season without a Cup ride.
Kenseth returned last weekend at Kansas Speedway, making his season debut in the No. 6 Ford that Trevor Bayne had driven for Roush Fenway Racing.
“Kansas was just a mess from start to finish, honestly,’’ Kenseth said.
Rain altered the schedule and Kenseth struggled with the car’s handling. He didn’t make a qualifying attempt because his car failed to pass inspection in time. He struggled in the race before he was collected in a late crash and finished 36th.
“We try to learn what we can do better and there is a lot of it that is going to be a work in progress,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “Some things are going to take some time and patience. Kansas was just a mess from start to finish, honestly. There just wasn’t really much that came out of that weekend for a positive. With that being said, it is nice to come here and have everyone on their game today and get that pit stop and work together to get both cars on the front row. That is a huge positive for all the guys, myself included. Tomorrow is a new day. We just have to keep working at it.”
Kenseth will be joined on the front row for the All-Star race by Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“I think it is neat to have both cars on the front row,” he said. “We only have two cars coming out of that shop right now and the goal on qualifying day is to put the cars on the front row, and on race day you want to keep getting better and eventually be up there winning races.”
Still, teams are using restrictor plates and aero package this weekend that won’t be used the rest of the season. This event is a test for NASCAR to see if the package could work at other tracks next year.
So what kind of value is there to Kenseth — who has been brought to Roush to help the team improve its cars —to be in this race?
Kenseth, who will do five consecutive races before Bayne returns to the No. 6 car in at Sonoma in June, said there are still some benefits to racing this weekend.
“There are some things with ride quality and those types of things,’’ Kenseth said. “The rest of it, it is a team sport like anything else. It is another week to work together, work on our communication, try to work out some things that maybe we struggle with at Kansas or so far here. A chance to do more pit stops, get more familiar with the guys. Get on and off pit road. Call a race. It is still a race and you are racing with your team against the same guys.
“It will probably be a different type of race, but I think we need to get some momentum and continuity and get rolling so I think these first five weeks are all really important. They are all different race tracks and different types of races but they are all important for that.”
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