Matt Kenseth was a happy driver when he left Martinsville Speedway last fall and when he stopped by the track earlier this week, he was still feeling pretty good about that second-place run and his chances in the STP 500 on March 30.
"Both races were really good here last year. We led a few laps in the spring, thought we had a top five car, but then we pitted (late in the race) and we didn't go anywhere after we pitted," Kenseth said Wednesday when he challenged media members in the new NASCAR 14 video game at the track. "In the fall race we ran good. We did everything we could do we just got beat by somebody (Jeff Gordon) that was a little bit better."
Kenseth led 202 laps in last fall's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, but Gordon got by him with 21 laps remaining and held on for the win.
"I used to say this track was my worst as far as incidents and good results and losing my mind, but last year was really, really good. Our cars were really fast and it was fun," said Kenseth.
"It's really a neat track, no other track like it on the circuit. I've always said, even when I struggled here, it would probably be in my top three places if I was going to buy a ticket and go watch a race."
To say that Martinsville had been one of Kenseth's "worst" track's wasn't an understatement. Kenseth's second-place finish tied his best ever in 28 starts at the half-mile but was only his fifth top-five effort at Martinsville.
"Martinsville is kind of technical. It takes a lot of finesse, which probably isn't always my strong suit," said Kenseth.
"There are some unique things about (Martinsville), about the car and the driving style, but the thing is, if the car won't do what you want it to, it doesn't matter how you drive it. There are a lot of things that have to happen. Certainly there are some drivers that are huge standouts here and they get what they need in their car and they are really, really good at driving it. Jeff (Gordon), Jimmie (Johnson) and Denny (Hamlin) are the first three that come to mind. Those three just seem like they are really good here no matter what."
Kenseth is hoping he can add his name to that list before too long.
"I felt like last year was a little bit satisfying that we ran pretty decent in both races and led some laps because I've really been bad here. So I actually look forward to coming up here after the way we ran here last year. One of my goals is to win a race here. It would probably mean more than winning at any other track that's left to be honest with you. I never thought I would have a snowball's chance here, but maybe after last year if we do everything right, maybe we will have a chance."
Tickets to the STP 500 on March 30, the Kroger 250 on March 29 and Pole Day on March 28 can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Tickets for youth 12 and under are just $10 in the Clay Earles Tower, rows 15-52. Teen tickets (ages 13-17) in the same area are $25. Youth and teen ticket prices are good with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Youth 12 and under are admitted free to the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on March 29 and to Pole Day on March 28. Adult ticket prices for the STP 500 start at $37.