Skip to content

Winless thus far in 2014, Matt Kenseth looks to repeat last year’s victory at Darlington this Saturday

Apr 10, 2014, 2:35 PM EST

Kenseth won last year's Sprint Cup race at Darlington and hopes to make it two in a row in this Saturday's Bojangles' Southern 500 there. AP

At this time last year, Matt Kenseth already had two wins in his back pocket, en route to a Sprint Cup Series-leading seven wins in the entire 2013 season.

But seven races into 2014 and Kenseth is still an oh-fer in the wins column.

He’s hoping to change that in Saturday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

And he has reason for optimism: he is the defending winner of last year’s race there, finally breaking through after 19 tries of coming up short against the fabled “track too tough to tame.”

“I always feel like the Southern 500 is one of the biggest races of the year — certainly it was right up there towards the top of my list of tracks I wanted to win at that I never won at before last year,” Kenseth said in his weekly media release. “It was a really big win. It was exciting and it didn’t look like we were going to win. Kyle (Busch) had that problem late and we were able to sneak by him there with 10 (laps) to go or something like that. It was a big week for us and it was really, really cool to be able to finally win the Southern 500, for sure.”

“(It’s) certainly one of the most historic (races). … To be able to win here in any kind of race, any kind of car, any conditions and certainly the Southern 500 is, I think, special. I think you could ask anybody and that’s one that they would tell you that.”

This year’s race was changed from what had been a relatively new tradition – on Mother’s Day weekend – to mid-April.

“It doesn’t change how you’re going to drive it at all,” Kenseth said. “Conditions are a little hard to predict just because we only come here once a year — I don’t think anybody really tests or anything.

“With the weather forecast being decent, I can’t really remember the weather last May, but it’s supposed to be pretty warm the next couple days so I think that’s good. I think that will be good for the fans and I think that will probably be good for the racing and everything too. It’s not going to be too terribly cold at night.”

Like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and others, Kenseth is one of several of Sprint Cup’s highest-profile drivers that still hasn’t won a race in 2014.

“I can’t say I’m totally shocked,” Kenseth said when asked about how there have been seven different winners in as many races to start the Cup season. “I think whenever you throw a pretty big rules change at everybody, some people are going to pick up on it sooner than others.

“I think it always spreads the field out a little bit because some guys are going to hit it and some guys are going to miss it, and I think that always creates passing and mixes the field up and makes the racing more interesting in my mind. I think that everybody every week is probably gaining on it and the field is going to get closer together as we keep rolling through the year here.

“It’s been interesting because there’s been a lot of different winners and been some guys that have won a lot that haven’t won yet.  It’s been an interesting year for sure.”

Ironically, in a season where the revamped Chase for the Sprint Cup format is predicted on wins, the top two leaders in the standings this week are drivers who have yet to win a race this season: Gordon and Kenseth.

“You just don’t really know how it’s going to turn out,” Kenseth said. “Is there going to be 10 winners?  Is there going to be 20 winners? I don’t know, the way it’s going. How important are your points going to be? I would think, history suggests that there’s going to be a few guys added by points that didn’t win. Certainly if that’s the case and you haven’t won yet, then the point standings are very important. Come September, you don’t really know how important they’re going to be.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Vettel fastest for Ferrari on day one of Jerez test

    Feb 1, 2015, 11:05 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    German driver makes a good start to life with Ferrari, but it is Mercedes who puts in the performance of the day with an incredible 157 laps completed.

  2. Heartache of 2014 defeat motivates Rosberg for new season

    Feb 1, 2015, 10:45 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    German driver wants to avoid a repeat of his last race defeat to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in 2014.

  3. Momentum and expectations high at Williams for 2015

    Feb 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Bottas Massa 12 Getty Images

    After storming to third place in the constructors’ championship in 2014, Williams must now consolidate its rise and push for race wins.

  4. Horner praises “exciting and dynamic” Red Bull line-up

    Feb 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Red Bull - Meet The 2015 Drivers Getty Images

    As the post-Vettel era begins at Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat prepare to step up to the plate.

  5. Mercedes leaving no stone unturned in bid for a second world title

    Feb 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg AP

    Technical chief Paddy Lowe working on improved reliability in 2015 after some issues last season.

  6. Mercedes and Williams unveil 2015 cars as F1 testing begins

    Feb 1, 2015, 5:00 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    F1 pre-season gets underway in Jerez with the first public test.

  7. Red Bull RB11 launched in camouflage testing livery

    Feb 1, 2015, 4:35 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    Something out of the ordinary from Red Bull as pre-season testing begins in Jerez, Spain.

  8. Jimmie Johnson likes new Chase format, but misses the one that brought him six championships

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:09 PM EST

    jimmie johnson 2015 media tour AP AP

    Given the way the 2014 season turned out for him, Jimmie Johnson would have preferred to see the old Chase for the Sprint Cup format rather than the new elimination format.

  9. NHRA: Alan Johnson Racing moves forward without Al-Anabi

    Jan 31, 2015, 5:13 PM EST

    Alan Johnson (Photo courtesy AlanJohnsonRacing.com) Alan Johnson (Photo courtesy AlanJohnsonRacing.com)

    With Al-Anabi Racing now defunct, team owner Alan Johnson has picked up the remnants and intends on racing one Top Fuel dragster, with 2013 champ Shawn Langdon behind the wheel, in at least the first two races of the 2015 season.

  10. Jeff Gordon: Chase Elliott is ‘right guy’ to keep driving No. 24

    Jan 31, 2015, 4:01 PM EST

    jeff gordon no. 24 Getty Getty Images

    Jeff Gordon wanted to see his successor continue on the legacy of the No. 24 car. Chase Elliott is happy to continue that tradition.

  11. Gutierrez enjoying life with Ferrari in third driver role

    Jan 31, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    Ferrari Car Launch Getty Images

    Mexican driver is excited for the return of his home grand prix in November, even if he won’t be racing.

  12. Indy Lights notes: Juncos leads oval test, Chilton digs ovals, Piedrahita confirmed

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    News and notes after Indy Lights wraps up its week of testing in Homestead.

  13. Richard Childress Racing settles lawsuit with Matt McCall, Jamie McMurray’s new crew chief

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:21 PM EST

    Matt McCall (Image courtesy racing.quickenloans.com) Matt McCall (Image courtesy racing.quickenloans.com)

    Richard Childress Racing and Matt McCall have reached settlement on a lawsuit that sought to keep McCall from becoming Jamie McMurray’s crew chief for the 2015 season.

  14. Perez “extremely motivated” for new F1 season

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Mexican Driver Sergio Perez Visits Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit Getty Images

    Mexican driver feels that Force India’s hunger can take the team up the grid this year.

  15. NASCAR: Kenseth’s DeWalt sponsorship schedule revealed

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Sprint All-Star Race Qualifying Getty Images

    Kenseth and DeWalt are back together, and the six-race sponsorship dates are revealed.

  16. Report: No get-out clause in Fernando Alonso’s McLaren contract

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    McLaren-Honda Announces New Driver Line-Up For 2015 Getty Images

    Ron Dennis makes clear that Alonso is locked into his new contract with the British team.

  17. In interview, Franchitti reflects on life without driving, a full year later

    Jan 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Dario Franchitti (right) has embarked on a new career path as a consultant for Target Chip Ganassi, with particular emphasis helping his hand-picked replacement and defending Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. (Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Herald Scotland checks in with Dario Franchitti on his new life outside the cockpit.

  18. Rosberg and Hamilton ready for the rematch in 2015 (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    Germany F1 Stars and Cars AP

    Prepare for round two with Hamilton and Rosberg as they set their goals for the season ahead.

  19. Preparation key for all-rookie Toro Rosso line-up in 2015

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © Toro Rosso © Toro Rosso

    With a combined age of 37, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. forge the youngest line-up in F1 history in 2015.

  20. NASCAR AMERICA: Drivers predict Super Bowl XLIX winner (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    superbowl_nbc

    Patriots or Seahawks? NASCAR’s top drivers make their picks for Sunday’s Big Game.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. C. Elliott (1795)
  2. J. Gordon (1286)
  3. R. Blaney (1272)
  4. C. Custer (1252)
  5. C. Eggleston (1240)
  1. B. McReynolds (1204)
  2. R. Chastain (1198)
  3. N. Drake (1179)
  4. A. Almirola (1075)
  5. K. Larson (1029)