CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Matt Kenseth spent Tuesday putting smiles on the faces of others and putting on as big a smile as he could for a driver 14th in the Sprint Cup standings.
After the Joe Gibbs Racing competition meeting Tuesday, Kenseth headed over to the NASCAR Hall of Fame to commemorate his victory a year ago at Bristol Motor Speedway, an event named in honor of broadcaster Steve Byrnes. Byrnes died two days after the race.
At the Hall of Fame, Kenseth met with Byrnes' widow, Karen, and his son, Bryson, to give them a race trophy (a sword) and a photo from Victory Lane with the crew members holding signs for Steve.
"We've tried to be purposeful in living and moving forward and experiencing life because I don't think we honor Steve if not," Karen said about life in the last year. "We'd just do a disservice to him by not going out and living life."
A ceremony such as the one Tuesday can put things in perspective about as quick as a lap around Bristol. For Kenseth, he hasn't needed much time to put the first six races of the season in perspective.
He could have won either of the first two races and even had a shot Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. He hasn't won and isn't in the top 10 in the standings, but he ranks fourth in laps led and fifth in miles led this season. He has an average starting spot of 8.8, but his average finish -- thanks to a wreck at Las Vegas -- is 18.5.
"The results have been disappointing, obviously, but we ran pretty good," Kenseth said. "We were in contention to win a couple of races. ... I feel if you run good enough over time, the law of averages is going to work out and you're going to win some races."
Kenseth finished 15th at Martinsville despite restarting second with 12 laps remaining. While his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch had chosen the outside lane on most of the restarts late in the race so that Kenseth, who was on the inside, would then let him get the jump to get in front of him, Busch chose the inside for this restart with 11 laps remaining.
That resulted in Kenseth losing several spots on the outside.
"When it comes down to the end to try to win, of course, that's what you've got to do at the end. ... The biggest threat to beat him was me," Kenseth said. "If he could get me outside and have some guys behind him that he hasn't really had to race most of the day, his chances were going to be better. Common sense tells you that is the right thing to do."