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Commentary

Rapid Reaction: Texas Two (Tire) Step

Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 was the first night race of the season for the Sprint Cup Series. The stars were out for this Texas-sized battle, but it was a familiar face at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the night. (Or morning, depending on your time zone.)

Pearn Goes Two for Four

Martin Truex Jr. led 141 laps on Saturday night, but couldn’t seal the deal. Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn elected to stay out on a restart with 35 laps to go after the night’s final caution and not put on a fresh set of Goodyear Eagles. Kyle Busch, who restarted to Truex’s outside, had fresh tires. Truex finished sixth and remains winless in 2016.

It’s not the only time Truex has let a win slip away at Texas Motor Speedway. He led 142 laps in the spring 2013 race, where he also finished second to Kyle Busch.

To add insult to injury, it is the fourth time since the beginning of the 2015 season where Truex has led over 95 laps and failed to reach victory lane.

Will He Lose?

If there has ever been a display of dominance in NASCAR’s history, that time is now for Kyle Busch. He has won four straight races in NASCAR’s top three series. (2 Cup, 1 XFINITY, 1 Truck)

He didn’t lead the most laps as he so often does, but he placed himself in position to capitalize on an opportunity if it were to arise. He and crew chief Adam Stevens brought the No. 18 to pit road for fresh tires and got by Truex on the final restart. He now joins Jimmie Johnson atop the standings with two wins.

Here’s another stat to chew on: he has won eight races in his last 32 attempts in the Cup Series.

Kenseth and Edward Bit by Wheel Deals

A lot of the big names and early hopefuls for the win on Saturday had trouble with loose lug nuts. Pit stops have been blazing fast this season, but many teams have paid the price.

Both Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards were among the slew of drivers to have issues. Kenseth led 20 laps early, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Carl Edwards led for 124 laps, but they were each taken out of the mix when they made unscheduled pit stops for loose wheels.

For Kenseth, it seems like everything is going wrong. He’s gone from almost winning the Daytona 500 to having only one top 10 through seven races.

Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott also battled loose wheels, but both recovered to finish within the top 20.

 

RCR: From the Penthouse to the…..

A 180-degree swing from last week at Martinsville, where all cars were scored in the top-10.s Martinsville run last week, where the organization placed all cars in the top-10
Lap 294 was not a good one for Richard Childress Racing, when all three RCR Chevrolets were caught up in a 13-car pileup on the backstretch.

Austin Dillon was battling Jimmie Johnson for a spot in the top 10 when Dillon got into the wall and started a chain reaction wreck.

Dillon was having a nice run, hovering around the eighth position for much of the night, and poised to continue his solid 2016 campaign. He finished a disappointing 19th, while teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard wound up 17th and 26th, respectively.

 

Back Where They Belong

For the first time this season, Hendrick Motorsports placed all four of its drivers inside the top 10. That deed hasn’t materialized since the Fall Texas race last season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished a quiet second and climbed four positions in the standings to sixth. Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson finished fourth after battling back from an early pit road mishap.

Perhaps the most impressive drive of the night came from Chase Elliott. After qualifying fourth, the 24 team changed the transmission and started from the rear. He was the best driver of the rookie class on Saturday, finishing fifth and leading one lap.

Kasey Kahne had a solid night, finishing eighth after starting 17th.

Categories
Commentary

LEE: Four Drivers Who Need a Texas Turnaround

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Legendary baseball player Yogi Berra was known for his famous sayings, or “Yogi-isms.”

One of my personal favorites? “It’s getting late early.” Fresh off the season’s first short track race of the year, the teams have seen nearly every type of track they’ll encounter from now until November.

While NASCAR is about as far from America’s favorite pastime as you can get, the clock is ticking for several drivers who have struggled in 2016.

Matt Kenseth

The 2003 champion finds himself 14th in points after six races, the farthest down he’s been at this point in a season since finishing the 2009 campaign 14th. But unlike the other drivers on this list, Kenseth’s problem hasn’t been speed: it’s a black cloud that’s been lingering over his No. 20 Toyota Camry since last October.

For those who don’t know, Kenseth’s season spiraled out of control when Joey Logano spun him at Kansas Speedway in the opening race of the second round of the the Chase. A crash at Charlotte the following week set the stage for their infamous run-in at Martinsville, where a frustrated Kenseth crashed Logano after he felt he was taken out by Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski.

Kenseth was less than a mile away from winning his third Daytona 500 this February before he was shuffled back to 14th in the mad dash to the checkers. The next week in Atlanta, Kenseth was again one of the cars to beat, leading 47 laps. A pit penalty for illegal fueling led to a communication breakdown on the team’s radio that saw Kenseth fall two laps behind and out of contention en route to a 19th place finish.

A crash at Las Vegas and another comedy of errors on pit road at Auto Club Speedway ruined strong runs for Kenseth. At Martinsville, he appeared to be well on his way to turning the ship around before a late-race restart saw him on the outside of teammate Kyle Busch. The result was a 15th place finish that spoiled a tremendous run.

Oddly enough, the race that Kenseth didn’t lead, Phoenix, saw him make it to the finish in one piece in seventh.

Kasey Kahne

Kasey Kahne, Kasey Kahne, wherefore art thou, Kasey Kahne?

Once regarded as the next big thing in NASCAR, Kahne’s rise to the top is all but a distant memory in 2016. After finishing fourth in points in his debut season in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5, Kahne has failed to finish in the top 10 for three consecutive years. Kahne’s last victory came in 2014, when he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Through six races, Kahne has yet to lead a single lap and has just one top 10 (Las Vegas). Kahne qualified second at Martinsville last week, but dropped like a rock from the start and brought his Chevrolet home 22nd. It feels like every time we expect to see something from Kahne, he falls flat on his face and shows he’s a distant fourth in the Hendrick pecking order.

Kahne qualified 17th for the Duck Commander 500, but has seen success at Texas in the past. He finished eighth in this race last year, and does have a win at TMS. If you believe in fate, it should be noted that Kahne’s victory at Texas came 10 years ago to the day of the Duck Commander 500.

Kyle Larson

On the heels of a third-place run at Martinsville Speedway, it would be easy to remove Larson from this list. But when you look closer at the numbers, it’s easy to see why Larson isn’t out of the woods.

Larson has only posted back-to-back top fives once in his career, when he did so in September 2014. Taking it a step further, the Chip Ganassi prodigy hasn’t recorded consecutive top-10 finishes since last June.

The No. 42 Target Chevy has yet to lead a lap in 2016, and Larson has only advanced to the third round of qualifying once this season, including Friday, when he qualified 20th for the Duck Commander 500. Larson and crew chief Chad Johnston will hope for a run similar to 2014 at Texas, when Larson finished fifth in this race.

 Greg Biffle

With the exception of Team Penske, Ryan Blaney and a couple of strong runs from Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford has been behind Chevrolet and Toyota in the early stages of 2016.

Greg Biffle has hoisted the Texas six shooters twice in his career, last winning at TMS in 2012. Prior to the switch to the Generation 6 chassis, Biffle was a Texas master with nine top-10 finishes in 10 starts in the “car of tomorrow.”

If Biffle is ever going to re-establish himself as a frontrunner in the cup series, a trip to Texas might be exactly what the doctor ordered for the No. 16 team. Otherwise, it may be time for Roush Fenway to find a new lead driver.

EMAIL HANK AT editors@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, it’s owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary

RAPID REACTION: All Bets Off

Martinsville Speedway has produced plenty of thrills over the past couple of years, and Sunday’s STP 500 didn’t disappoint.

Hot tempers, torn up sheet metal and surprise contenders made for an action-packed 500 laps. NASCAR embraced its short track roots for an afternoon while continuing to see the influence of the low downforce package on the racing. The excitement from the first five races combined with today’s compelling event is evidence that the sport continues to thrive.

Teamwork Tested

With fast cars and teamwork, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth dominated the STP 500, leading a combined total of 397 laps.

At the front of the field, the two drivers allowed each other to fall in line on restarts to maintain their momentum, but once the finish neared, all bets were off. On the final restart, Busch took advantage of his inside position, jumped to the lead and captured the victory. Kenseth struggled on the outside lane and fell back to 15th by the finish, marking his fifth result outside the top 10 this season.

Comeback Kid

Carl Edwards’ struggles at Martinsville are well-documented. He hasn’t finished inside the top 10 at the track since October 2011 and only has one career top-five finish.

The trend seemed likely to continue early in the race as he went a lap down and was unable to earn the free pass for most of the day. However, late in the event he came alive and was up front when it mattered, finishing sixth in the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota.

Hard Work Pays Off

The JTG Daugherty Racing organization worked hard at improving their performance over the off-season, and it showed on Sunday. A.J Allmendinger was extremely competitive, and ran inside the top 10 for most of the race. He even passed eight-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson, which is no easy feat.

Allmendinger restarted third with 12 laps to go and was in hot pursuit of eventual winner Kyle Busch until the checkered flag was displayed. He scored an impressive second-place finish and demonstrated the high level of performance this team is capable of achieving.

Dillon and Menard Tangle

Richard Childress Racing had a strong showing with all three drivers finishing inside the top 10 and remaining in contention throughout the race. However, teammates Paul Menard and Austin Dillon made contact while battling for position.

Each driver knew he had a car capable of contending for the victory, but found his toughest competition to be his teammate, which led to numerous bumps being exchanged late in the race. However, cooler heads prevailed following the event as they shook hands and congratulated each other on top-10 finishes, as Dillon ended up fourth and Menard eighth.

Rough Day for Rookies

Martinsville is known as a challenging track for rookies. It takes many years of practice competing at the half-mile track to truly learn what it takes to succeed. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney both experienced rookie troubles as they struggled to produce the same caliber of performances they’ve put up so far this season.

Blaney remained on the lead lap for most of the event and came home 19th. Elliott went a lap down early and never recovered, finishing 20th. Both drivers performed best at 1.5-mile facilities thus far in their rookie campaigns, so heading to Texas Motor Speedway, they’ll likely find more success.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @NASCARJason

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary

Jeff Gordon Retroactive: Gordon vs. Kenseth Feud Continued at Chicagoland

Matt Kenseth wasn’t very happy with Jeff Gordon following the USG 400 in 2006.

With four laps remaining and Kenseth leading, Gordon drove his Chevrolet to the bumper of the 2003 Winston Cup Champion and spin him out in turn two. The caution sent the race into overtime with Gordon taking his first victory at the 1.5-miler.

“That wasn’t an accident. He ran over me,” Kenseth said following the race. “On the restart, he was hanging back and NASCAR has a rule that you can’t hang back, although I’ve never seen it enforced. He was hanging back because I was a little weak on restarts.”

Gordon made a backhanded apology.

“I certainly didn’t mean to wreck him,” Gordon said. “But I didn’t mind moving him out of the way, either.”

“On long runs, we had the best car and I hate to win one like that,” Gordon said. “Matt ran a great race. I got in there hard, he blocked me a couple times and I jumped back in the gas. Matt knew he blocked me on the restart. If I wanted to spin him, I could have spun him then.”

Chicago was in Kenseth’s wheelhouse too. For the second consecutive year, he had led the most laps in the race.

The two had a bit of a history in 2006, beginning at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier in March. It was the final lap of the Sharpie 500 and Kenseth pulled the ‘bump and run’ heading into turn four with the checkers in sight.

That move allowed Kenseth to take the lead in the standings.

Following the race, Gordon would spin Kenseth on pit road, which would later result in a penalty.

As Kenseth went to see Gordon to tell his side of the story, a shoving match an and verbal exchanged ensued. But it pretty much ended there. For the remainder of the 2006 season, the two played nice and put the incidents behind them.

With his final start at Chicagoland, Gordon, starting tenth as a result of the cancellation of qualifying, will look to grab his first win of the season at a track that brings back a storied memory.

 

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Editorial

All Lost Together: Why NASCAR Must Address its Restart Policy

RICHMOND, Va. — Once again, the topic of jumped restarts came to light during the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night at Richmond and it’s becoming clear that something has to be done.

Clear might also describe where Kenseth was in relation to the field by Turn 4 on the final restart — jumping on the gas five car-lengths before the restart zone. NASCAR also deemed the No. 20 team clear of any wrongdoings by not penalizing them. But if we’re all honest with each other, that’s a bad no-call by NASCAR who has shown a consistent failure to call that infraction.

READ MORE: Aric Almirola Critical of Matt Kenseth Final Restart

Kenseth didn’t even deny he jumped, saying he had to get the advantage over Joey Logano who had bested him in that scenario all night long.

“I knew for sure I wasn’t going to go late,” Kenseth said. “You know, it didn’t have anything to do with Aric (Almirola in third) there really. We had a nice lead and a good long run car and after 20 laps, I didn’t feel like anyone could run with us. Even after 10 laps, we were pretty good.

“But Joey and Brad are so good at restarts. They launch so good. I don’t know what they do but wish I did. They launch so fast and typically Joey beat me on each of those restarts. On the restart with twentysomething to go, I knew I had to get a good stop and a good restart to put some distance between them.”

Despite the compliment, this didn’t sit well with Team Penske, especially Logano who says NASCAR is lacking consistency on one of the most vital aspects of the sport.

“We don’t know what the rules are on the restarts because they are different every week,” Logano said. “One week it’s not okay to jump the start and the next week it’s okay to jump. I try to understand the rules but I just can’t figure it out.

“We will all be lost together.”

This came two weeks after Bristol where several drivers peppered the Sanctioning Body with questions about restarts during the pre-race driver meeting — with none of those polled in the garage afterwards having a clear understanding of what NASCAR wants.

It’s important that the league get this shored up soon because this is the most important stretch of the season. Just as races are won and lost on late race cautions and the ensuing restarts, so will this championship. Don’t forget that the entire season in 2014 came down to a late restart at Homestead and it very well could again.

The topic of restarts comes down to one fundamental question — who is supposed to have the advantage? If NASCAR truly wants the leader to have the advantage, then give him the Delaware Restart used in dirt track racing in which the leader resets on the front row by himself.

If restarts are supposed to be a clean reset, then allow the flagman to dictate the proceedings or use a rev limiter connected to the electronic fuel injection to determine the run off Turn 4. That sounds absurd, but of course, none of this would be an issue if NASCAR simply officiated its restart rules in the way they are written.

In short, NASCAR must address this problem before it justly (or unjustly) costs someone a championship.

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

Categories
Editorial

CALINOFF: Matt Kenseth and My Wedding

So, here’s a good Kenseth story.

From his very first visit to Pocono in 2000 until, well, early last Sunday evening, @MattKenseth dreaded going to the “Tricky Triangle.” Bad enough, we had to go twice. There was just something about the place that plagued him. At the end of every race he’d say, “Sorry guys, I really suck here.” By the time he got to his rental car I would text, “You really do suck here” – just to make light of the day.

I’m not a big fan of the place either. For a spotter, it undoubtedly offers the worst view on the circuit. Turn one is far away, and it’s tough to clear your driver off turn three. So it was a collective set of circumstances that always made for a bad weekend. It’s one of the venues that I don’t miss.

In July of 2005, I got married on the weekend of the Pocono race. It was on a Friday night so that my friends could attend. It was quite the gala at a resort in the Pocono Mountains called The Chateau.

Well, five years later we went our separate ways. We divorced, and I buried her in my backyard. Just kidding. She’s alive and well – and we’re even Facebook friends.

Although Matt was sympathetic, he relished the opportunity to kick up his sarcastic smartass sense of humor – in a manner that I’ve been accustomed to for the past fifteen years.

Prior to each Pocono race beginning in 2011, Kenseth would either text, email or transmit on the radio some sarcastic quip about my wedding or the demise of my marriage.

“Getting married this weekend?”, “Hey, is your wedding Friday or Saturday?”, “How come I didn’t get an invitation to your wedding?”, “Oh, just so you know, I forgot to get you a wedding gift.”  It’s continued to this very day – and I suspect for years to come. With him, it just never ends.

In 2012, for the first time in his career, he led some laps June in the race – I think it was ten or so. When he crossed the line for the sixth lap, he keyed up his mic and said, “Calinoff, I’ve now led more laps here than the amount of years you were married.” Nothing out of the ordinary.

On Saturday night of this year’s June race, he sent me a text:

 

MATT: Hey, I was thinking about you today.

ME: What was the occasion?

MATT: I took a ride on my motorcycle today and rode right past the Chateau.

ME: That’s probably what I should have done!

MATT: LOL! That was funny!

 

Aside from him, his family and team, I don’t think there was anyone happier than I to see him take the checkers on Sunday. It was always such a struggle, so it was cool for him to be able to enjoy the success.

After the race, I sent him a text with congratulations noting my joy and surprise that he won at Pocono – and referenced a milestone.

 

Matt Text

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Information

Kyle Larson Sweeps Kentucky Package Practice

SPARTA, Ky. — In a garage full of frustrated drivers and engineers stood the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team and driver Kyle Larson who swept both Sprint Cup Series practice sessions on Friday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway.

Haulers first arrived to the Bluegrass State in the middle of the week but rain washed out the opening round of practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Once cars finally hit the track on Friday, Larson was the only driver consistently content with the handling of his car.

With Sprint Cup qualifying also getting rained out, Larson was also named the pole winner for the Quaker State 400 by virtue of his fastest lap in the rain-shortened first round of practice.

“We were quick off the truck, which I was really proud of my team for just because we haven’t had any laps on this new package, unlike some of the other teams that have gotten to do some testing,” Larson said. “So, I was happy with that.

“We were quick in race trim off the truck. And then we went to mock qualifying trim and we were really fast. I was able to lay down a really fast lap. And then went back to race trim, and felt good there, too. So, yeah, I’m happy with how the day has been.”

The only incident of the second session occurred in the final minutes when Matt Kenseth spun off Turn 4 and slid into the soggy infield. Despite the drenched conditions, the car was left relatively unscathed and the driver shrugged off any concerns.

“I didn’t water and there wasn’t anything wrong with the track,” Kenseth said. “I just spun out.”

Kenseth said he had no problems with the Kentucky Package and called it the same for everyone.

“I feel like our cars have pretty good speed,” he said. “We just have to work on getting our balance tied together. We are where we want to be.”

The complete results from final practice can be found below.

  1. Kyle Larson Leader
  2. Brad Keselowski 0.049
  3. Joey Logano 0.063
  4. Denny Hamlin 0.134
  5. Kurt Busch 0.180
  6. Austin Dillon 0.181
  7. Kyle Busch 0.210
  8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 0.238
  9. Jimmie Johnson 0.259
  10. Matt Kenseth 0.264
  11. Sam Hornish Jr. 0.269
  12. Jeff Gordon 0.270
  13. Danica Patrick 0.275
  14. Ricky Stenhouse 0.284
  15. Kevin Harvick 0.297
  16. Paul Menard 0.327
  17. Martin Truex 0.330
  18. AJ Allmendinger 0.385
  19. Carl Edwards 0.391
  20. Greg Biffle 0.421
  21. Jamie McMurray 0.447
  22. Kasey Kahne 0.450
  23. Trevor Bayne 0.461
  24. Casey Mears 0.468
  25. David Ragan 0.473
  26. Justin Allgaier 0.492
  27. Ryan Newman 0.516
  28. Tony Stewart 0.526
  29. Aric Almirola 0.554
  30. Clint Bowyer 0.604
  31. Alex Bowman 0.635
  32. Landon Cassill 0.672
  33. David Gilliland 0.734
  34. Jeb Burton 0.780
  35. Michael Annett 0.855
  36. Cole Whitt 0.856
  37. Josh Wise 0.868
  38. Brett Moffitt 1.014
  39. JJ Yeley 1.072
  40. Matt DiBenedetto 1.157
  41. Reed Sorenson 1.296
  42. Will Kimmel 1.333
  43. Alex Kennedy 1.618

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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XFINITY

Ross Kenseth Has a Scare in First NASCAR Practice Session

JOLIET, Ill. — In true Matt Kenseth form, the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion had a very (dry) sarcastic retort to watching his son, Ross, nearly wall it in his first career NASCAR practice session.

“He asked if it was all out of my system or not,” the younger Kenseth recalled with a laugh following that first session. “Hopefully it is.”

Kenseth lost control of his No. 20 Toyota coming out of Turn 4 on just his second run in the opening stages of practice for the Owens Corning AttiCat 300 and overcorrected, at one point finding himself pointed directly at the wall. But Kenseth continued to saw on his steering wheel and kept it off the wall, having only lost two tires as a result.

A wild maiden voyage to say the least.

“We were fighting free the whole session there,” Kenseth said. “Between that and getting used to these cars for the first time, getting used to this track for the first time — where the bumps are at and the line to be ran to get as much speed as possible. I think all that and I got a bad (turn) four there and went the wrong way and got free.

“We made quite a few changes for the next session to try to get rid of that feeling and a little bit more comfortable.”

Given the off-weekend for the Sprint Cup Series, Matt Kenseth has been with his son every step of the way and Ross has leaned on him quite a bit. The younger Kenseth says his dad has been a tremendous resource in the days leading up to his first start, specifically in terms of which lines to run and how his car will transition from day to night.

“He’s been real fast at a lot of these tracks and I think he’s one of the better ones at these mile-and-a-half tracks and that kind of racing,” he said. “Having him there for questions and advice, that’s obviously a huge help and I feel like it’s going to get us up to speed.”

By the end of the second session, Kenseth seemed generally pleased with his car and believed the balance was where it needed to be to win the race. He finished the afternoon 14th quick. Ultimately, he believes he has the car and team needed to contend in his first start.

“Tomorrow is going to be a little bit different being a little bit hotter and at night — I don’t know how it’s going to work out but (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) is really smart and takes my feedback and he’s making the best decision he can make from what I’m saying,” Kenseth said. “Hopefully we’re going in the right direction and making it better for the night practice and tomorrow.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Development Journalists

Kenseth’s Ultimate Father’s Day Weekend

This weekend fathers’ all around the world will be celebrated and adorned with love from their families. One father in particular, @mattkenseth, is set to have an especially remarkable Father’s Day weekend.

His son, @RossKenseth, is set to make his NASCAR XFINITY debut in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Owens Corning Atticat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The 22-year-old and his father have tried hard to achieve an opportunity like this.

“I think we talked about trying to get some races for Ross for years,” said the elder Kenseth. “We’ve worked on that for a long time. Ross has been working on it for a long time. He’s been putting in the effort.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is headed into an off-weekend, meaning that Ross will have extra help from his father as they can both focus solely on the No. 20 XFINITY machine.

“You know, it’s one of those weekends that the Sprint Cup Series is off,” said the Appleton, WI native. “Having my dad there that weekend will be a big help for me. I feel like he’s helped me a lot at certain racetracks that I haven’t been to and he’s done quite a bit, which is always good.”

Matt Kenseth won the 2013 Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota. In his debut this weekend, Ross’s car will also be sponsored by Dollar General, something that both father and son are very grateful for.

“Rick, everybody at Dollar General has been a huge supporter of mine, they’ve been a huge supporter of Joe Gibbs Racing,” exclaimed Matt. “Man, I can’t say enough about them guys picking up this race for Ross to be able to get his first-ever NASCAR start, first XFINITY start, and to be driving the Dollar General car, it’s pretty cool.”

Ross wants nothing more than to make the most of this start, and he believes they will have a shot at a great finish on Saturday.

“I think if we can be there all weekend, be competitive, race with them guys, be in the ballpark, you know, just be up to speed and be real competitive I think is what I was looking for going in.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.09.54 PM

Hopefully if I can do my part and give good feedback to the guys, get the car better, we can be competitive, hopefully we can come out of there with a solid finish, whatever that may be.”

Everything seems to be setting up for a perfect weekend for the Wisconsin natives, but the festivities don’t end there. On Saturday afternoon before the start of the race, the annual Matt Kenseth Fan Club Party will take place. Hundreds of Kenseth fanatics will be in attendance to spend time and get autographs with their favorite Sprint Cup driver.

A weekend off from your job, spent with family, friends and fans, all while watching your son achieve one of his goals ought to make for a significant and unforgettable Father’s Day for Matt Kenseth.

Christian Espinoza is a POPULAR SPEED Developmental Journalist
EMAIL CHRISTIAN AT christian.espinoza@popularspeed.com

Categories
Home Tracks

ARCA: Ross Kenseth Tackles Largest Speedway Challenge Yet

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Despite a wildly successful career on short tracks and in Super Late Model competition, Ross Kenseth has never competed on anything quite like Michigan International Speedway — the first track he’s driven on larger than a mile-and-a-half.

The lack of experience notwithstanding, Kenseth is very familiar with MIS, having come here since he was a youngster to watch his dad race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. But now it’s his turn as the 22-year-old prospect appears poised to contend on Friday afternoon in the Corrigan Oil 200 ARCA Racing Series showdown at the downstate Michigan speedplant.

Between the elder Kenseth, car owner Ken Schrader and crew chief Donnie Richeson, Ross says he felt prepared to tackle his first two-mile speedway and showed it in practice, posting the second fastest time just behind 10-time champion Frank Kimmel.

“I was really happy,” Kenseth said. “We’re pretty close to where we need to be. We were actually faster in race trim than we were in our qualifying trim so hopefully we’ll be able to qualify decent in the morning because we’re pretty good.”

Kenseth credited his team and car for the fast lap but said his dad also proved to be a valuable instructor. Matt Kenseth was also in attendance for the two-hour practice session that comes before qualifying (10 a.m.) and green flag (5:45 p.m., FS2) on Friday.

“My dad was just giving me some tips for qualifying,” Kenseth said after walking away from the 2003 Sprint Cup champion. “He’s given me a good idea of what to do when you’re racing and how to get around people so you don’t get in trouble.”

Friday will mark the third time Kenseth has participated in an ARCA Racing Series event. He finished sixth after starting from the pole in Madison in 2013 and placed third at Kansas in his intermediate track debut. The Corrigan Oil 200 will be his first national touring race of the season. The start comes one week prior to his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing and is meant to give him additional big track seat time before his NASCAR debut.

“I feel like the more seat time I can get is beneficial just to understand how the aero works with these cars,” Kenseth said. “The more I can learn about that, the better off I’ll be. These guys at Ken Schrader Racing have great cars and I’m just thankful to drive one of them.

“It’s a good situation for me and I’m just excited to race on Friday and run 100 laps here.”

The complete ARCA practice results from Thursday at Michigan can be found below.

POS NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN TEAM & CAR TIME SPEED
1 25 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Ansell-Menards Toyota 38.424 187.383
2 52 Ross Kenseth/Little Chute WI Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet 38.742 185.845
3 69 Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN 1.800.AUTOPARTS-Accel-Noco Genius-RACEPAK Ford 38.850 185.328
4 22 Blake Jones/Sevierville TN Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips Dodge 39.101 184.139
5 77 Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ Barbera’s Autoland Dodge 39.127 184.016
6 23 Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL GMS Racing Chevrolet 39.144 183.936
7 98 Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Chevrolet 39.193 183.706
8 6 Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL Southwest Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet 39.347 182.987
9 54 Matt Kurzejewski/Mansfield PA Costy’s Energy Services Chevrolet 39.474 182.399
10 55 Cody Coughlin/Delaware OH JEGS Toyota 39.570 181.956
11 58 Cole Powell/Mt. Brydges Ontario Tricar-Ford Performance-MOMO Ford 39.680 181.452
12 97 Bobby Hamilton Jr./Greenbrier TN Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000 Dodge 39.942 180.261
13 2 Sarah Cornett-Ching/Summerland BC Race101.net Chevrolet 40.283 178.735
14 59 David Levine/Highland Park IL Ford Performance-Traqgear-MOMO Ford 40.714 176.843
15 42 Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY Crosley Brands-T&T Constr-Glad Precision Dodge 40.800 176.471
16 9 Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL DK-LOK Ford 41.083 175.255
17 48 James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ Radon.com Ford 41.180 174.842
18 95 Kevin Hinckle/Shawnee KS Limitless Racing & Graphics-RE/MAX Main St. Realty Dodge 42.633 168.883
19 28 Mike Buckley/Ann Arbor MI Kneader Machinery-ETS Chevrolet 43.417 165.834
20 10 Rick Clifton/Circleville OH Ohio Ag Equipment-Clifton Trucking Ford 43.919 163.938
21 0 Tommy O’Leary/Cygnet OH Wayne Peterson Racing Ford 44.126 163.169
22 40 David Sear/LaJolla CA Essential Foundations-RE/MAX Main St. Realty Dodge 46.739 154.047
23 06 Con Nicolopoulos/Columbus MI Wayne Peterson Racing Ford 50.660 142.124
24 00 Wayne Peterson/Pulaski TN Wayne Peterson Racing Chevrolet 60.789 118.442

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