Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kenseth hits high gear in Southern 500

  • Print

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Matt Kenseth has rarely been more pleased in victory than he was this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Maybe that's because of what he overcame to achieve the win.

Kenseth has long been one of NASCAR's stars, a past champion with two Daytona 500 titles. But the 41-year-old racer has found a new gear in his first season at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kenseth passed JGR teammate Kyle Busch with 13 laps left Saturday night to win for the first time at Darlington and third time this season. The latest win came with replacement crew chief Wally Brown, pressed into service because of the suspension of Jason Ratcliff.

Like many hurdles in Kenseth's way, he drove right through it on the way to Victory Lane.

"To be able to win a race at a track like this, especially the Southern 500, man, it's big," Kenseth said. "In my mind, it's one of the biggest races we have of the year, really."

And it did not come easily.

Kenseth's team dealt with a NASCAR appeals decision earlier in the week that lessened the penalties levied on the No. 20 for using an illegal part in a win at Kansas Speedway last month. Ratcliff's suspension was reduced from six races to one, meaning Kenseth still had to hear a different voice in his headset at difficult Darlington. He also had to deal with a strong car from his own race shop in Busch, who led 265 of 367 laps and didn't look like he'd be caught.

Instead, Kenseth kept positive and kept everyone pointed toward the top.

"I knew at that point we'd be OK if we just kept up with the track positions that we would have a good night," Brown said of his first-ever Sprint Cup victory as crew chief.

Ratcliff helped formulate a plan headed into the weekend, one that Kenseth and Brown enacted to perfection.

Kenseth did not think the appeals result would've changed the approach or outcome at Darlington. "Jason would have been home either way. So I don't think it would have made any difference," he said.

Kenseth has made a difference since his Sprint Cup debut in 1998 when he filled in at Dover. The next season he began his distinguished career, driving five races for Jack Roush.

In 2000, Kenseth won the Coca-Cola 600, still the only rookie to win the circuit's longest race. Kenseth's break-through year came in 2002 when he led Sprint Cup with five victories. He won his points championship in 2003 and was runner-up for the title three years later. But after winning 15 times over seven seasons, he managed only eight victories in the past five years.


-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 13, 2013 C10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Sister of convicted killer speaks out after court

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A black swallowtail butterfly land on Lantana flowers Sunday morning at the Assiniboine Park English Gardens- standup photo – August 14, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Geese fly in the morning light over Selkirk Ave Wednesday morning- Day 22– June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google