Matt Kenseth’s wit may be dry, but he gets his point across

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If you’re fortunate enough to spend any length of time around him, you’ll quickly find Matt Kenseth has a very dry wit.

Think of a cross between comedians Steven Wright and the late George Carlin – just not so over-the-top as Carlin was — and you have Kenseth.

During his weekly media availability on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kenseth was at it again.

When asked about the pending arrival of his and wife Katie’s third child, Matt said the latest member of the growing Kenseth family is due in “about three weeks.”

That would put delivery sometime during the week between races at Fontana (Calif.) and Martinsville (Va.).

So does Matt have a contingency plan if he needs a relief driver so he can be at his wife’s side for the baby’s birth?

“Not really,” Kenseth said. “I just told (Katie) to have it on a Monday.”

Nice guy that Matt is, eh?

But wait, the one-liners kept a-flowing.

When asked where he thinks Joe Gibbs Racing’s intermediate track program is currently – remember, Las Vegas this weekend is the first 1.5-mile track that the Sprint Cup visits in 2014 – Kenseth cracked, “Well, it’s tough to say since we haven’t ran at an intermediate track yet.”

So, Matt, does your approach to certain races change in the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

“Man, we’re talking about the Chase already?” Kenseth said. “It’s the first week in March. I have put almost zero thought into the Chase. … Honestly, at this point in the year — I could care less about the Chase. I would really like to win a race so you feel like you’re qualified and then I think we got six months of racing to do before we got to worry about that. I think it’s probably a little bit early. For me, I haven’t thought about it. Maybe other people have, I just haven’t.”

What’s it feel like to be in the “zone,” Matt?

“Man, I don’t know,” he said. “Whenever, things are clicking it always feels good. I don’t want to say it’s easy, ’cause it’s not. But, you know when things are clicking and communication is good and you got a good feel for what you want and have a good feel for what to get in a car and what changes to make to get you what you want — that’s always fun.”

Who says Kenseth is too vanilla? He’s got a fairly witty side – you just have to wait for it to come out.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.