Matt Kenseth Says Fontana Can be Tricky

By Kent Whitaker
Matt Kenseth
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kenseth is taking his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota to Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. It’s the next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule and it’s at a track that Kenseth has had success on. But he says it can “be tricky.”

Kenseth has three wins at the track which ranks him second of active drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. He also has thirteen top-ten finishes and eight top-five finishes at Auto Club Speedway.

The driver says that the track has plenty of seams and grooves that will help dictate the racing line best suited for his Toyota and car setup.

“I think that Fontana has really changed a lot over the last three or four years,” Kenseth said.  “The grooves have moved around and everyone always talks about the seams in the pavement.  Those seams can get a little tricky since you can’t really run across them and have to pick a lane in between them.”

Kenseth must be able to pick the right groove and line as he has completed 4,782 of 4,784 laps at Auto Club Speedway in his 20 Cup Series starts. In addition he has led for a total of 497 laps at the two-mile track. Kenseth says that not settling in and searching for a better line around the race track is the key.

” I think one of the biggest challenges at Fontana is to try different lines constantly in order to find the most grip throughout the race,” Kenseth said.

Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for the team, is leaving the driving to Kenseth but says that Auto Club demands a great handling car in order for the driver to be able to take advantage of the wide track.

“The track at Fontana is a down-force track where aerodynamics really come into play in getting your car to run well there,” Ratcliff said. “It’s a really wide track so there’s plenty of room to try out various lines and to pass, but it’s really a place where you need a great-handling race car as well as one that can give drivers the horsepower they need.”

Ratliff says that he realizes that the combination of cars the team has fielded this year and his driver’s past record at the facility make for some positives this weekend.

“Matt’s had a lot of success at Auto Club Speedway in the past, and I really feel like we’ve had some strong cars this season already,” Ratliff said. “So I’m looking ahead to this weekend to see what our Dollar General Toyota can do at our first two-mile track of the season.”

Kenseth is not taking the track in stride and really wants to do well this week in his Toyota. The same goes for any driver fielding a Toyota. His schedule includes a stop at the Toyota Headquarters in Torrance, CA for Toyota Motorsports Day. It will be attended by all of the Toyota drivers from each series.

“I’m looking forward to going to Toyota headquarters on Thursday to meet the employees and to see the engine facility so I’m really excited to see all that later this week.”

Kent Whitaker is a member of NASCAR media, sports writer covering NASCAR and the NFL, author and culinary writer. You can follow him @thekentwhitaker on twitter or online.

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