Don't forget silent, but deadly, Kenseth
One of the teams that will be in this year's Chase is the No. 17 driven by Matt Kenseth. He is a former champion, and he and his crew chief have a ton of experience. You aren’t going to be able to rattle either of them. Matt just isn’t going to get very emotional on things either up or down, so he might be one to match up with very nicely to compete with Jimmie Johnson for the crown.
See, that’s one of the key components to the success of Jimmie and crew chief Chad Knaus. In the past five years, while it seems everyone else is losing their heads, those two are calm, cool and collected. They also stick to their plan.
So this could be a really unique matchup between our NASCAR champions. Because Matt is so low-key, a lot of people want to talk about everyone but him as possibly our 2011 champion. Matt knows how and when to race hard. He knows how to score points. You simply can’t overlook him.
I would wager most folks don’t know that after his finish at Bristol that Matt moved up to second in the points. He’s won twice this year. He won a pole. He’s had seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in 24 races so far. He’s just very quietly going about his business, race after race, being consistent and putting great numbers on the board.
Matt’s just not one of those guys who go out there seeking attention. He has no problem letting Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards or the others garner all the media attention. He’ll answer your questions if you ask him, but he is just not a flamboyant champion who is going to run to the media for every little thing.
I know one thing and that is I never want to play poker with Matt. He’s got one heckuva poker face. Again, that is just the way he is. What is also funny is if you look at the history of the No. 17 that Matt drives, he is pretty identical to one of the former drivers and directly opposite of the other.
Probably many of our newer fans don’t know that the Silver Fox, David Pearson, drove the No. 17. David was a lot like Matt is. David wasn't flamboyant at all. David would simply let his driving do his talking. That is the same thing that Matt does.
Now if you want to really compare apples to oranges, look at the other No. 17 driver who I obviously am really familiar with. Darrell Waltrip is the complete opposite of Matt. Back in the day, DW would go seek out the media. He’d start controversies to try to get in another driver’s head.
So, in his heyday, DW was flamboyant. He realized with the advent of full-time television coverage of our entire season that this was an entertainment sport. My, how my ol’ buddy loved to entertain, because when he could, he would put on a show. So not only did DW do the talking, he let his driving do it, as well.
That just isn’t Matt’s style. He is very comfortable in who he is and how he handles himself. In this age of instant media that is looking for that soundbite or the next controversy, Matt Kenseth is a throwback to the past. You really have to admire a man like that, one who can go about his business, be extremely competitive and not care about all the hype, glitz and glamour that some of these drivers seek or is placed upon them.