On Tuesday, Jason Ratliff, crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth, was asked about how calm and collected Kenseth appeared to be following what was likely one of his more disappointing days at the race track this season.
Kenseth finished 23rd at Phoenix and has fallen 28 points behind Jimmie Johnson with just one race remaining. In the hours after the race, Ratliff was able to find something inspiring.
Let him explain:
"It was something that after I was away from the racetrack for a few hours thinking about, okay, what could we do better, how can we prevent those types of days from happening, especially in these types of situations where we're battling for championships, the one thing that struck me - after I was away from it for a little bit, that I was most impressed with was exactly what you just mentioned, and that is how Matt is able to keep his composure, and even though I know he's in that car just ready to chew the steering wheel off the thing because I know he's frustrated as the rest of it, he's as competitive as the rest of us, very disappointed, had high expectations going into Phoenix, and we still do going into Homestead," Ratliff said.
"But he was very rational, even though he's disappointed. He keeps his composure and does a really nice job of putting things into perspective. I think a lot of that, again, is from his experience, but at the same time I think that's Matt's personality. I think he takes things in and thinks through them very well, and in the end he knows that nothing positive is going to come from me getting out of the car and stomping my feet, even though that's really what I want to do. So how do we take this situation, pull something positive from it, learn from it so we can be better in the future?
"That was something for me as a crew chief, I've worked with a lot of different drivers, and that's something that was very inspiring for me as well as this race team. When you have a driver like that, I mean, that leads by example with that type of composure in the midst of adversity, it just goes a long way, you know."