Newsmaker: Matt Kenseth

Posted: Thursday, January 08, 2004

Matt Kenseth, the newly-crowned NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, had a busy off-season. He took time out of his test session to talk about the demands of being a champion, the work on his new Ford Taurus, the proposed change in the point system and the upcoming season.

Question: What are your thoughts on the possibility of changing the pointsystem?

Kenseth: I've heard rumors just the same as you have, but nobody has really talked to me about what the plan is, but the rumors about the 10-race deal, I'll have to wait and see how they structure it before I say too much about it. But if you start (the championship playoff among the top-10 drivers) at zero with 10 races to go, I don't like that idea at all because in the last 10 races there are no Daytonas, there are no Bristols, there are no Poconos and there are no road courses. I've heard a lot of comparisons to football, but in football there might be inside stadiums and outside stadiums but they're all played on a 100-yard field. All the dimensions are the same, but we're not football. We're NASCAR Nextel Cup racing and we're different venues, so I think it still needs to reward the team and the driver that can do the best at all the different racetracks.

Question: Some said the fact you led the point standings for the final 32 races and essentially clinched the championship a month before the end of the season is a big reason why NASCAR is considering a change in the system. Do you feel that penalizes you for doing the best job all year?

Kenseth: At first when they started talking about changing the point system I maybe took it as a little bit of an insult to myself or maybe felt a little bad about it, but actually the more I thought about it, I think it's more of a compliment than anything. It's a system that's been in place for thirty-something years, and we did such a great job last year that they want to change it, so I think it's a compliment more than anything.

I don't think a champion should be rewarded off how good they are on the mile-and-a-half tracks. I think it should be rewarded on how good you are at all the tracks like it always has been.

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