New colors, new cars, new crew chief, new manufacturer, new spotter, new everything for Matt Kenseth.
But this hasn’t changed – Kenseth remains one of the sport’s top victory threats. He has been at or near the top of speed charts at Daytona International Speedway during testing in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota.
So far, so good for Kenseth after virtually an entire career linked to Ford.
“Everything has been really great,” Kenseth said Friday. “I don't think it could be any better. Obviously, we haven't been to the racetrack and been racing yet, and the results pretty much tell the story. We're a few months away from really seeing results.
“I've been extremely encouraged. I'm really optimistic about the season, really like my group and really like the way they do things over at JGR. Of course, Denny (Hamlin) and Kyle (Busch) – there's
not many people that win more races than those guys, so I'm excited to work with them guys and learn from them guys and hopefully be able to contribute as well."
Kenseth isn’t interested in comparing past to present, at least for public consumption.
“I’m not going to compare stuff,” he said. “I’m looking 100 percent forward and not looking back, so it’s not really fair to compare anything. But I still say both tests so far, my cars have been really fast. I really like how they drive. I really like how they react to change, and I’ve been pretty encouraged with how everything has been going so far.”
Kenseth led Thursday’s first testing session with a speed of 192.757 miles per hour.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.