It was one season ago when Matt Kenseth left New Hampshire after the fall race with a checkered flag and a win in his pocket. Kenseth proved that he still had the skills that he possessed during his Championship year. Now the question is if Kenseth can bring home New Hampshire’s signature Victory Lane symbol again in the form of their giant rock lobster!
Kenseth says that while Loudon may be one of his worst tracks, statistically speaking, he’s ready to get back to New Hampshire, not necessarily for the lobster, but to defend his win. One way he can do that is by simply making sure that his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota is turning good in the corner during the Camping World RV Sales 301.
“New Hampshire has probably been one of my worst tracks statistically over the last eight or nine years, up until last year. Last year, I thought we ran pretty well in both of our races there and of course we were able to win the fall race where I thought our car handled pretty good overall. It’s just one of those tracks where you have to turn good in the corner and still be able to get off the corner. It’s about keeping up your middle of the corner momentum the best you can, which is typical of any flat or short track.”
The win in 2013 does skew the numbers slightly for Kenseth in his quest for a second lobster. But, when you dig into the stats the track has given Kenseth many finishes in the top 5 and top ten. In 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at New Hampshire he has an average finish of 13.4. But, he has completed 8,173 of 8,250 which is an amazing number of 99.1 percent of total laps finished. Of those laps he has driven to the front on a total of 228 laps. He has six top-five, 14 top-10 finishes, and one pole award at the 1.06-mile track.
Jason Ratcliff, crew chief Kenseth, says that the teams short track program seems to be clicking at the right time and that heading to Loudon instead of an intermediate track is a good thing. According to Ratcliff this was not the situation compared to last season.
"Last time we raced at Loudon, we brought home that giant lobster, so we’re going to head there this weekend looking to once again bring that lobster back home. I think that our short-track program has been a little better this season than our intermediate stuff so far, even though last year that program seemed to be our bread and butter. I thought we had a good run at Bristol, Martinsville we had a decent finish and Richmond I thought we had a shot of winning that thing at the end. I anticipate a good weekend at Loudon and know that we’ll have another strong DG Toyota, so I’m ready to head up there.”
That’s pretty good for any professional driver to have at any given track on the schedule. Especially one that has a Lobster for a trophy! Oh, just in case you’re wondering; the lobster is in fact a real, live and pinching, rock lobster. After the ceremonies and pictures in Victory Lane the lobster is whisked away to a chef where it is pressure cooked, carefully shelled, and the meat prepared and frozen for the winning driver and team. The shell is then sent to a taxidermist for the final step of becoming one of the most prized trophies in racing.