Woody: Two Views of Kenseth’s Complaints
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Following the 2003 season in which Matt Kenseth’s lackluster cruise to the championship nudged NASCAR into a radical new format, Matt felt he was being unduly criticized.
During a weekly media conference call I introduced myself before asking a question and Kenseth interrupted by asking:
“Are you that guy who wrote that I should quit crying and concentrate on driving?”
I confessed that yes, I was that guy.
But I wasn’t the only one who at the time felt that Kenseth was being overly defensive and taking things too personally. My gripe wasn’t so much with Kenseth as with NASCAR for having a points system that encouraged non-racing and theoretically could produce a winless champion.
Kenseth’s complaint came to mind last weekend when he moped his way through a woe-is-me press conference at Chicagoland Speedway.
Kenseth took several swipes at his struggling team, including this one: “We all have ideas and theories (about what’s wrong) but the people running the place don’t like mine, so we’ll just keep going the way we are and hope that things get better.”
Frankly it wasn’t one of Matt’s finer moments. The flapping of dirty laundry in public is not a pretty sound. Most of the time it’s best to hold such disparaging discussions in private rather than in front of a media microphone.
At least that’s one notion. On the other hand you have to give Kenseth credit for being open and honest – perhaps to a fault. Someone asked him what was wrong with his team and he told them. Or at least he gave his opinion.
The problem with Kenseth’s complaint is that none of his Roush teammates are exactly setting the woods on fire. It’s not like the situation at Hendrick Motorsports in which some drivers are doing well while others (well, at least one) are floundering.
At Roush, Kenseth’s not the only one having problems but he’s the only one who’s been publicly critical.
You never know how that kind of thing will play out. Kenseth’s complaints could create dissension and disharmony on the team and further erode morale.
Or it could light a fire under some people and inspire them to do better. Maybe Kenseth said something that needed saying.
Critics will fault him for casting blame and finger-pointing; defenders will praise him for refusing to be satisfied with poor performances and having the grit to speak out.
Kenseth’s so-so 13th-place finish Saturday dropped him a position in the standings, to 8th. But with just seven races to go to set the Chase field, he should be OK. But he remains winless and seldom in contention, and he’s clearly not happy with the situation.
It’ll be interesting to see the response of his team in coming weeks. Did Matt fan the competitive flames or further dampen the enthusiasm? We’ll soon see.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments