Matt Kenseth

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Matt Kenseth
Kenseth in 2009
Born (1972-03-10) March 10, 1972 (age 42)
Cambridge, Wisconsin, U.S.
Achievements 2003 Winston Cup Series Champion
2004 IROC Champion
2009, 2012 Daytona 500 Winner
2000 Coca-Cola 600 Winner
2013 Southern 500 winner
2004 NEXTEL All Star Challenge Winner
2012, 2014 Budweiser Duel Winner
Awards 2000 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
544 races run over 17 years
Car no., team No. 20 (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2013 position 2nd
Best finish 1st (2003)
First race 1998 MBNA Gold 400 (Dover)
Last race 2014 Ford EcoBoost 400 (Homestead)
First win 2000 Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)
Last win 2013 Sylvania 300 (Loudon)
Wins Top tens Poles
31 271 13
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
283 races run over 18 years
Car no., team No. 20 (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2013 position 92nd
Best finish 2nd (1998)
First race 1996 Red Dog 300 (Charlotte)
Last race 2014 Ford EcoBoost 300 (Homestead)
First win 1998 GM Goodwrench Service Plus 200 (Rockingham)
Last win 2014 Ford EcoBoost 300 (Homestead)
Wins Top tens Poles
29 197 16
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Best finish 67th (2002)
First race 2002 Canada Day Shootout (Cayuga)
First win 2002 Canada Day Shootout (Cayuga)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 1 0
Statistics current as of November 16, 2014.

Matthew Roy "Matt" Kenseth (born March 10, 1972) is an American professional stock car racing driver. He drives the No. 20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time as well as the No. 20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on a part-time basis.

Kenseth started racing on several short tracks in Wisconsin and won track championships at Madison International Speedway, Slinger Super Speedway and Wisconsin International Raceway. He moved to the ARTGO, American Speed Association, and Hooters Late Model touring series before getting a full-time ride in the NASCAR Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) for his former Wisconsin short track rival Robbie Reiser. After finishing second and third in the standings, he moved up in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (later NEXTEL Cup Series and now Sprint Cup Series). He won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 2000 and the championship in 2003. The International Race of Champions invited Kenseth to race in their 2004 season as the reigning champion and he won the season championship. In 2009, he won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 and repeated as Daytona 500 winner in 2012. He is the father of Ross Kenseth.

Early life and career[edit]

Kenseth's Sportsman car from Columbus 151 Speedway

Kenseth was born in Cambridge, Wisconsin. He made an agreement with his father, Roy, that Roy should buy a car and race, and Matt would work on the car until he was old enough to race.[1] Kenseth began stock car racing in 1988 at the age of 16 at Madison International Speedway.[2] "My dad bought a car when I was 13 and raced it at Madison," Kenseth said. "Neither of us knew much and it was a learning experience. He continued to race in 1988 and 1989. My first car – what might be considered a sportsman – was a 1981 Camaro that Todd Kropf had driven to championships at Madison and Columbus 151 Speedway. On the third night out I won a feature. I ran 15 features in 1983 and won two of them."[2] "The first night out in the Kropf car Matt won a heat race," said Kenseth's father Roy. "The third night he won the feature by holding off two of the best drivers at the track, Pete Moore and Dave Phillips, for 20 laps. Matt was smooth. I knew then he was going to be a racer."[2] He ran for the points title on Saturday nights at Wisconsin Dells in 1989. He finished second in points and won eight features.[2] On Friday nights, he ran about half of the races at Golden Sands Speedway and half at Columbus 151 Speedway.[2] In 1990, he bought a late model from Rich Bickle.[2] In the season-opening race at Slinger Super Speedway, Kenseth inherited the lead and won his only race of the season when track champion Tony Strupp had a flat tire.[2] He finished sixth in season points and won the track's rookie of the year award.[2] Kenseth entered fifteen ARTGO events that season and raced in 40 features that year.[2] After graduating from Cambridge High School that summer, Kenseth worked for four years selling and shipping parts for Left-hander Chassis, a late model racecar chassis manufacturer just south of Wisconsin in Illinois.[1] In 1991 he won the ARTGO race at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway to become the youngest winner in the series' history.[2] He passed Joe Shear and Steve Holzhausen, and held off Steve and Tom Carlson for the win.[2] 1992 was a difficult year for Kenseth. He won three races and blew up more engines than he could count.[2] He was ready to quit racing after the season.[2] "I felt we were at a standstill", he said. "I wasn't gaining. My dad and I had some major discussions at the end of the year. We had to find the dollars for a good program or I told him I would rather not race."[2] Kipley Performance loaned a motor to Kenseth for the season-final race at La Crosse and the team ran better.[2] Kenseth built a new car for 1993 using a Kipley engine.[2] He used the car at Madison to win eight features and finished second in the points.[2] Mike Butz offered Kenseth the chance to race his late model, and it took some time for the combination to stop struggling before they started winning features.[2] At the end of the season, they won the final short track series race at Madison, La Crosse, and I-70 Speedway.[2]

The 1994 and 1995 seasons established Kenseth as a short track star.[2] Kenseth made a name for himself while driving at several Wisconsin tracks, beating nationally known drivers such as Dick Trickle and Robbie Reiser. He raced 60 times in three different cars in 1994, winning track championships at both Wisconsin International Raceway (WIR) on Thursday nights and Madison on Friday nights.[2] Kenseth competed against Reiser at Madison, and won 12 of 17 features at the track.[2] He won the 1994 Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway.[1] In 1995, he repeated with back-to-back championships at Madison and WIR, plus he won the Red, White, and Blue state championship series at WIR on three Saturday nights.[2] Butz's wife Patty Butz said "We knew by 1995 that Matt had too much talent to be with us for very long."[2]

Kenseth decided to move across the country in 1996 to the Southern United States to race for engine builder Carl Wegner in the Hooters Series Late Model championship.[2] The plan was to run the Hooters Series, five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, and five Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) before moving full-time into the Busch Series in 1997.[2] He finished third in the Hooters Series, nearly winning the series championship as a rookie.[2] In 1996, Kenseth made his Busch Series debut at the spring race at Lowe's Motor Speedway for Wegner, finishing 22nd after starting 30th in a car rented from Bobby Dotter.[2] Kenseth was disappointed because they were unable to attract major sponsorship.[2] "It was just like 1992", Kenseth said. "Plans just didn't work. I thought things would be different. Personally, I had moved and was adjusting to being a thousand miles from home."[2] At the end of the season, the Wegner/Kenseth team closed, and Kenseth found a ride for Gerry Gunderman's American Speed Association team, who was also Alan Kulwicki's last shop in Wisconsin before moving to NASCAR.[1] The team raced together for two races in 1997 before Kenseth received a telephone call from a former competitor.[2]

Nationwide Series[edit]

Busch car for Kenseth's first victory

In 1997, racer Tim Bender was injured, and Bender's crew chief/car owner Robbie Reiser hired his former competitor and rival Kenseth to race for him despite having only one Busch start.[2] Reiser said "Matt and I used to have some fierce races against each other. I needed someone who understood race cars the way I understood them. I knew he could drive and he could talk to me in a manner I could understand."[2] Kenseth qualified third for the new team's first race. He was racing in third place in the final laps when he spun and finished eleventh.[2] Kenseth qualified in 20th place for the next race at Talladega in his second time at a track big enough to have a significant draft.[2] He passed thirteen cars to finish seventh.[2] Kenseth had two Top 5 finishes during the partial season.[2] The following year he raced full-time all season. He won his first Busch Series race on February 22, 1998, when he nudged leader Tony Stewart's car entering the final turn of the final lap,[2] culmulating in a second- and third-place finishes in the Busch points. Kenseth drove the No. 17 Chevrolet sponsored first by Kraft, then Lycos, and most recently by DeWalt.

2007 Busch Series car

Kenseth won the last two races of the Busch season in 2006 driving the #17 Pennzoil Ford Fusion, at Phoenix and Homestead.

In 2007, Kenseth planned to run 23 Busch races to be sponsored by Arby's restaurants (13 races), Dish Network (five races), iLevel by Weyerhaeuser (four races), and Aflac (one race). Kenseth won the Stater Brothers 300 at California Speedway in February and the O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

Kenseth broke an 18 race winless streak as he won the 2008 Nicorette 300 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kenseth's 23rd career series victory came after the series was renamed the Nationwide Series. On lap 104 at the 2009 Aaron 312 on April 25, Kenseth took a wild ride flipping over 3.5 times, sliding on his roof, then completed a fourth flip. The car burst into flames, and Kenseth walked away.

Kenseth won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway in 2009. Kenseth led only the last four laps of the race – three of them under caution – after Busch had to pull into the pits due to a flat right-rear tire during the penultimate caution period and just as the race was about to get into a green-white-checkered finish.

On May 28, 2011 Kenseth won the Top Gear 300 at Charlotte. Kenseth, filling in for Trevor Bayne, passed Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards with two laps to go to win his only Nationwide Start of the 2011 season.

In 2013, Kenseth returned to the Nationwide Series for 16 races driving Joe Gibbs Racing's #18 Toyota. Kenseth finished with 7 Top-5 and 14 Top-10 finishes. He won the summer race in Daytona and the fall race in Kansas.

In 2014, Kenseth drove in 19 races, with 10 Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes. He won the last race of the year at Homestead.

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

Kenseth races Kenny Irwin, Jr. in his debut race at Dover

Kenseth's first Winston Cup series race was at Dover in 1998, when he filled in for Bill Elliott who was attending his father's funeral on the day of the race. He finished sixth, the third best debut of any driver. The last driver before Kenseth to debut with a top-10 finish had been Rusty Wallace in 1980 with a second place finish in Atlanta.


In 2000 Kenseth's entire team joined the Roush Racing organization, he beat out Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. He won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and is the only rookie to win the famed 600 mile event. He went on to finish 14th in points with four top 5s and 11 top 10s.

In 2001 Kenseth finished 13th in points with four top 5s and nine top 10 finishes. Robbie Reiser and the DeWalt pit crew won the Unocal 76 World Pit Crew Competition.

In 2002 Kenseth won the most races (five) and one pole, but inconsistency caused him to finish eighth in the final points. His wins came at Rockingham, Texas, Michigan, Richmond and Phoenix. The DeWalt team won a second Unocal 76 World Pit Crew Competition.

The car that Kenseth drove in 2004

In 2003 he dominated in the points standings and leading the last 33 of 36 races and became the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, the last driver to ever hold that title. Kenseth also had a series best 25 top 10 finishes in the 2003 season.

  • 2003 began with a 20th-place finish in the Daytona 500, but quickly sped to the front. Fresh off his only win of the season at Las Vegas, Kenseth took the point standings lead after a fourth-place finish at Atlanta in the season’s fourth week. He never relinquished the top spot, remaining No. 1 for 33 consecutive weeks, and setting a new modern-era record for most weeks at No. 1. The previous mark was 30 weeks, set by Dale Earnhardt during his first title season of 1980.
  • Clinched the 2003 series crown with a fourth-place finish at Rockingham on Nov. 9, in the season’s penultimate event. Finished with a 90-point margin over runner-up Jimmie Johnson.
  • Displayed amazing consistency during his title run, spending 35 of 36 weeks in the NASCAR Top 10. Only week outside that elite group came after a 20th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500. Finished with one win, 11 top fives and a series-high 25 top-10 finishes.
  • Became the fifth different champion in five years, and the third consecutive former Raybestos Rookie of the Year to win the series title.

In 2004 Kenseth won the International Race of Champions (IROC) championship. He qualified for the inaugural Nextel Cup, finished eighth in the final NASCAR point standings. Kenseth finished with two wins, those coming back-to-back early in the year at Rockingham and Las Vegas. His win in the Subway 400 at Rockingham was a photo finish with eventual Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne. He also won the All-Star Race. Began the 10-race Chase in fifth place and finished eighth, and is of only four drivers to be ranked in the top 10 all season.

Kenseth started the 2005 season with relatively poor finishes but had a strong mid-season run. He rose from the 24th place in championship points after fourteen races to eighth after twenty six races, and he qualified for the Chase for the Cup. He finished seventh in the final points standings with one win coming at Bristol. Kenseth made his 200th career start. His totals after his first 200 starts were: 1 championship, 10 wins, 40 Top 5s, 85 Top 10s, 1 pole position, and more than $28.5 million earnings. He also led a career high 1,001 laps.


Kenseth's car at a Detroit Lions practice

Kenseth had a fast start to the 2006 season. He led early in the Daytona 500, but then spun out after contact with Tony Stewart. He fell down two laps, but rallied back to a 15th place finish. Kenseth won the following race at California Speedway. He was the points leader after the eighth race at Phoenix. He won the Dover spring race by racing from sixth to the front in the final 60 laps. He made the winning pass over teammate Jamie McMurray with three laps left. With the season winding down into the last dozen races, Kenseth won the Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway – securing his spot in the chase for the Nextel Cup. He finished the year with winnings of $9,524,966, his take for second place. Only spent one week outside the top 10 (finished 15th in seasonopening Daytona 500). ... Was either first or second in points for 27 of 36 weeks. ... Led 1,132 laps, second among all drivers.

In the second race of the 2007 season Kenseth won the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. After Jeff Gordon wrecked out of the Coca-Cola 600, Kenseth was left as the only driver to complete every lap of the season until he was wrecked out of the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan where Ryan Newman was trying to get one of his 3 laps back. The wreck also ended Kenseth's streak of 13 consecutive top-15's this season. Kenseth won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2007. The race was the final event under series title sponsor NEXTEL, and the final race using the templates originally based on the 1964 Holman Moody Ford Fairlane template. Kenseth finished fourth in series points, and as a result, finished in the top 10 in the standings for six consecutive seasons, tied with Jimmie Johnson for the most. He earned $6,485,630 in winnings. He also won an additional $100,000 dollars from his sponsor, Safeway.

Kenseth's car in Manhattan

In 2008, Kenseth was winless, but finished 11th in the points standing. His best finish was second at the fall race at Dover. He had five top-10 finishes during the Chase. This ended his streak of winning at least one race in six consecutive seasons and finishing in the top 10 in the standings in six consecutive seasons.

Kenseth started toward the back for the Daytona 500 and worked his way to the lead and led 2 laps, but soon after his own teammate, David Ragan, squeezed him into the wall, knocking both out of contention and resulting in a finish of 36th.

In the Goody's Cool Orange 500 Kenseth started 28th, but finished 31st. Kenseth was held a lap for pitting outside of his box early, but later was spun out by David Gilliland and was held for 2 laps for intentionally wrecking him back. Despite that, Gilliland finished 24th.

Kenseth failed to win a race in the 2008 season for first time since 2001.

Kenseth won the rain shortened 2009 Daytona 500, passing Elliott Sadler mere moments before the caution came out on lap 146 as the result of an accident on the backstretch between Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish, Jr.. The red flag was later waved and subsequent end of the race, 152 laps in, followed, giving Kenseth his first Daytona 500 victory, and the first Daytona 500 victory for his owner Jack Roush after 20 years as a car owner.[3] He led only 1 green flag lap (of 7 laps led), after starting the race at the rear of the field. It was Kenseth's tenth attempt at "The Great American Race".[4]

Kenseth won the second race of the season, the (Auto Club 500), to become the fourth driver in NASCAR history to follow up a win at the Daytona 500 with another win the following race.[5] Kenseth's bids for a third straight victory went south after engine failure at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Kenseth flipped his car during the April Nationwide Series race at Talladega. Kenseth won in the Nationwide series for his 24th win at Darlington. He also won the pole at Darlington in the Sprint Cup Series, setting a new track record in the process.

It was announced before the Indianapolis race that DeWalt was going to drop its sponsorship with Kenseth. Crown Royal will take over its sponsorship in 2010 for 35 races. Valvoline announced sponsorship for another 3 races, including non-points races and the spring race at Talladega.

After finishing 25th at the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond, Kenseth was bumped out of the Chase by Brian Vickers. This left Jimmie Johnson as the only driver to have made the Chase every time since its inception in 2004.

In 2010, following the Daytona 500, Drew Blickenderfer was released from his duties as crew chief of the #17 team. Todd Parrott was announced as his replacement. Later in the year Parrott was replaced by Jimmy Fennig.


During the third race of the 2011 season, Kenseth captured his fifth pole of his career by setting a new track record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A few races later, Kenseth snapped a 76 race winless streak at Texas Motor Speedway by winning the race on April 9, 2011. Kenseth also won the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. On a late caution, Kenseth and crew chief Jimmy Fennig called an audible in the pits and decided to go with two tires instead of four. That proved to be all the difference as Kenseth won for the second time in 5 races. Once he made the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he won the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for his third win of the season. Kenseth's second championship hopes went south after several altercations with Brian Vickers.

Kenseth's 2012 season started with him winning his second Daytona 500.[6] On June 26, 2012, it was announced that Kenseth would leave Roush Fenway Racing after the 2012 season. Kenseth did not discuss the details of where he would be racing in 2013 and beyond. When asked by reporters if he would give them a hint as to what team he would be with after the 2012 season, where he was in contention for his second championship, Kenseth wryly responded, "No." On August 25, while leading the 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol on lap 332, Kenseth collided with Tony Stewart when neither driver would lift in the entrance to turn 1. Stewart threw his helmet at Kenseth's car as he left pit road. Kenseth and Stewart had overcome being a lap down earlier in the race before the crash took them out of contention for a win at Bristol.

On October 7, Kenseth won his second race of the year, winning the fall race at Talladega as a crash unfolded behind him. He led the second-most laps of the race with 33.

On October 21, Kenseth won his third race of the year and second during the 2012 Chase at a freshly paved Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The repaving created a slick track that brought out a record 14 cautions for 66 laps during the Hollywood Casino 400 Sprint Cup race. This was Kenseth's first win at the Kansas track and the 24th of his career, and his last with Roush Fenway Racing.


Kenseth's #20 Toyota on pit road ahead of Kyle Busch during the 2013 STP Gas Booster 500

On September 4, 2012 it was officially announced that Kenseth would be joining Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, driving the No. 20 Toyota, replacing Joey Logano with the team.[7]

In the 2013 Daytona 500, Kenseth had a strong car, leading the most laps at 86. However, on lap 149, his day ended with engine failure. He finished 37th.

At Las Vegas, Kenseth won his first race in the #20 and became the third driver after Kyle Busch and Cale Yarborough to win on their birthday.

At Kansas, Kenseth won the pole, led the most laps and won the race. However, afterwards, he was penalized 50 points after his engine failed post-race inspection. One of the eight connector rods was 3 grams under the legal limit. His pole award was revoked and his win no longer counted towards the Chase points. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff was penalized $200,000.00 and suspended for one race. Car owner Joe Gibbs would not receive any owner points for 6 races. The engine builder, Toyota, would not receive any manufacturer points for 5 races. Joe Gibbs appealed the penalties.

Two weeks later, car owner Joe Gibbs met with the appeals board. The appeals board, feeling that the penalties were too harsh because Kenseth won the race, reversed a variety of penalties. Kenseth was awarded 38 Chase points back, leaving his penalty at just 12 points. He moved up 7 spots to 4th place. Kenseth's pole award and win were reinstated, giving him 2 poles and 2 official wins. Gibbs' owner points suspension was lowered to 1 race, but the $200,000.00 fine stood, and crew chief Jason Ratcliff was suspended for one race.[8] The Toyota manufacturer's points suspension was increased to 7 races.

At Darlington, Kenseth passed his teammate Kyle Busch with ten laps remaining to win his third race of the season and his first Sprint Cup Series win at the track.

At Kentucky, Kenseth took the lead after Johnson spun out, and held off Jamie McMurray to take his fourth win of the season.

After struggling a few weeks, Kenseth had better success when the series returned to Bristol. He held off Kasey Kahne to win his fifth race of the year.

With five wins in the regular season, Kenseth was the top seed in the Chase. He opened by holding off Kyle Busch to win the opening two Chase races at Chicagoland and at Loudon, his first wins on both of those tracks. With the win at Loudon, Kenseth joined Richard Petty as the only two drivers to win in their 500th race start. It also moved him into 22nd place, passing Rex White, on the all-time wins list.

Going into the last race of the season at Homestead, only three drivers can win the Chase. Kenseth trails Jimmie Johnson by 28 points and leads Kevin Harvick by 5 points for second. Kenseth won the pole. Harvick starts in 6th and Johnson in 7th positions. At the start, Kenseth had the dominate car. He led a race high 144 laps to get the bonus point. The only trouble that Kenseth had was on the restart after a cation with 74 laps remaining. He was behind Jeff Gordon, who spun his tires causing an accordion effect. Cars scattered everywhere. Kenseth and Johnson bumped each other causing Kenseth to drop to 12th and Johnson down to 26th position. Kenseth made his way back up to finish in second behind his teammate Denny Hamlin. Johnson finished in 9th place to win the 2013 championship, beating Kenseth by 19 points.[9] Kenseth finished second.

With seven wins, Kenseth had given the #20 more wins in a single season than the car ever had in an individual season being driven by Tony Stewart or Joey Logano. It was also a career best for Kenseth, outdoing his five race wins in 2002.


At Daytona, for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, in the first of two Budweiser Duels, Kenseth held off Kevin Harvick (whose race was later disqualified) and Kasey Kahne for the win in a three-wide finish.[10] With the win, he started in the 3rd position in the Daytona 500. Kenseth did not lead a lap, but finished in 6th position.

With the new Chase format, Kenseth won zero races, but still advances. He led all drivers that had no wins in points.

Still with no wins, Kenseth made it past the first two elimination rounds.

During the second round at Charlotte, after a caution with 70 laps remaining, Brad Keselowski restarted 2nd and Kenseth 4th. Kenseth went high, trying to pass him on the outside. Keselowski saw Kenseth and then tried to block Kenseth making contact with him. Kenseth fell back to 18th and went a lap down due to the damage he received. He made the lap back with being the lucky dog after another caution. After another caution with 2 laps remaining, Keselowski made contact with Kenseth's teammate, Denny Hamlin. Keselowski also wanted to make claim that Kenseth also bumped him causing he and Kenseth to fall back. Kenseth finished 19th and Keselowski in 16th. After the race, Keselowski tried to spin out Hamlin, but failed. He then went after Kenseth on pit road. Kenseth had removed his HANS device and seat-belt when he bumped him. Not making full contact with Kenseth, Keselowski hit Tony Stewart. Stewart then put his car in reverse and rammed Keselowski's car hard. After getting out of the cars, Hamlin tried to go after Keselowski, but was held back. Keselowski then walked away between two haulers when Kenseth charged between the haulers and put Keselowski in a headlock. [11] Keselowski's crew chief Paul Wolfe grabbed Kenseth to restrained him when Kenseth's crew came over to restrain Wolfe. Kenseth's mechanic Jesse Sanders and crew chief Jason Ratcliff were called to the NASCAR hauler. Kenseth and Hamlin were not penalized for the incident since no punches were thrown.[12]

In the third and last round of elimination, eight drivers remain.

At Martinsville, Kenseth came in fast and checked up, causing his car to wheel-hop. He hit Kevin Harvick hard, who's still in the Chase, causing the two of them to spin. Harvick hit the wall hard and fell 42 laps back. While starting his spin, a sideways Kenseth was bumped by Tony Stewart and straighten Kenseth out of his spin with no more damage. Harvick, who had returned to the track laps earlier, saw Kenseth coming behind him. Harvick purposely checked-up trying to smash up Kenseth's radiator, hit him. Kenseth still finished in 6th place and is in fourth place of the Chase. Harvick finished in 33rd putting him 28 points down and swore that if this race is the cause of him not making it further into the Chase, that he was going to cause Kenseth not to make it either.

At Texas, Kenseth won his second pole of the year, but finished 25th.

At Phoenix, Kenseth started 5th. He lead no laps and finished 3rd, but was eliminated from the Chase, trailing 4th place by three points.

At Homestead, the last race of the season, Kenseth led no laps and finished 6th. He finished 7th place in the standings.

Criticism of championship[edit]

After the 2003 season, Kenseth's championship became a source of controversy and criticism. Critics of the Sprint Cup points system, most notably Roger Penske, pointed out the flaw in having a driver who won only one race out of 36 winning a championship. Additionally, the fact that Kenseth led the points standings for an unprecedented 33 weeks despite only having the one victory, as well as already having clinched the Winston Cup title with one week to go in the season (rendering the final race in essence a non-event) led to discussions on how to prevent Kenseth's feat from happening again (by comparison, in 2000, under the same points system, Bobby Labonte had won the Winston Cup championship after leading in points for 25 races, but unlike Kenseth, Labonte also won four races in his championship year). Kenseth finished that year with 11 top-5 finishes and an unprecedented 25 top-10 finishes.

As a result, 2004 saw the implementation of a new points and playoffs system titled "The Chase for the Nextel Cup" after Winston was replaced as primary sponsor of NASCAR's top series by NEXTEL. In essence, the system created a 10 race playoff, with only the top-10 drivers in points after the first 26 races competing for the championship. Moreover, the system placed an emphasis, and a points premium, on wins. As a result, the term "The Matt Kenseth Rule" was coined to describe NASCAR's adoption of the current points system. NASCAR acknowledged that the 2003 championship outcome was not the driving factor in establishment of The Chase, as it had been researching methods to adjust the points system to put more emphasis on winning races since 2000. However, the coincidence of the commencement of the new format in 2004 and Kenseth's 2003 championship linked the issues, and were even referred to by NASCAR officials in the interviews and press releases following the announcement of the new format.

Personal life[edit]

Kenseth racing against his son Ross

In 2000, Kenseth married Katie Martin, also from Cambridge. Kenseth has a son, Ross Kenseth, from a previous relationship. Matt and Katie have three daughters, Kaylin Nicola born on July 6, 2009, two days after Kenseth finished eighth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Grace Katherine, born on February 22, 2011, two days after the Daytona 500 Kenseth had finished 34th in the race after being involved in two crashes. and Clara Mae was born on March 25th 2014 two days after the Auto Club 400.[13] Ross raced a legends car for one year in Wisconsin before starting in limited late model racing as a 14-year-old.[14] As a 16-year-old, Ross won the 2009 championship in the Big 8 Series, a late model touring series in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.[15] He qualified the second fastest for the Snowball Derby in December 2009.[16]

Kenseth's fan museum

Motorsports career results[edit]

Career NASCAR Sprint Cup statistics[edit]

Season Races Wins Poles Top 5 Top 10 DNF Finish Start Points Position Team(s)
1998 1 0 0 0 1 0 6.0 16.0 150 57th Bill Elliott Racing
1999 5 0 0 1 1 3 26.0 22.6 434 49th Roush Racing
2000 34 1 0 4 11 3 18.9 25.2 3,711 14th
2001 36 0 0 4 9 5 18.6 27.8 3,982 13th
2002 36 5 1 11 19 3 15.6 18.1 4,432 8th
2003 36 1 0 11 25 2 10.2 21.3 5,022 1st
2004 36 2 0 8 16 6 15.7 21.7 6,069 8th
2005 36 1 2 12 17 4 15.4 17.0 6,352 7th
2006 36 4 0 15 21 1 9.8 14.6 6,419 2nd
2007 36 2 0 13 22 4 13.0 19.9 6,298 4th Roush Fenway Racing
2008 36 0 0 9 20 3 16.4 16.5 6,184 11th
2009 36 2 1 7 12 2 15.4 21.4 4,389 14th
2010 36 0 0 6 15 0 12.8 19.4 6,294 5th
2011 36 3 3 12 20 3 12.2 14.2 2,330 4th
2012 36 3 1 13 19 1 11.1 13.3 2,324 7th
2013 36 7 3 12 20 3 12.1 8.7 2,400 2nd Joe Gibbs Racing
2014 36 0 2 13 22 2 13.4 14.3 2,334 7th
Totals 537 31 13 151 270 43 14.2 18.3
  • Asterisk denotes season in progress

Daytona 500 results[edit]

Year Manufacturer Start Finish Team
2000 Ford 24 10 Roush
2001 16 21
2002 40 33
2003 35 20
2004 21 9
2005 14 42
2006 11 15
2007 10 27
2008 28 36
2009 39 1
2010 24 8
2011 9 34
2012 4 1
2013 Toyota 12 37 Gibbs
2014 3 6

24 Hours of Daytona[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Dave Kallmann (November 6, 2003). "Title tracks: Kulwicki, Kenseth: two roads to top". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al Grubba, Dale (2000). The Golden Age of Wisconsin Auto Racing. Oregon, Wisconsin: Badger Books. pp. 229–232. ISBN 1-878569-67-8. 
  3. ^ "Jack Roush earns first Daytona 500 win in career as car owner". CBS Sports. 
  4. ^ "Kenseth wins Daytona 500 after rain shortens race". NASCAR. 2009-02-15. 
  5. ^ Spencer, Lee (February 23, 2009). "The Hot Pass: Team lifts Kenseth to win". Fox Sports. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  6. ^ Jensen, Tom (February 28, 2012). "Kenseth Wins Longest 500". SPEED Channel. Fox Sports. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  7. ^ Busbee, Jay (September 4, 2012). "Matt Kenseth officially joins Joe Gibbs Racing". From the Marbles. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  8. ^ Ryan, Nate (May 11, 2013). "Matt Kenseth tames Darlington for third win of year". The Journal News. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Caraviello, David (January 14, 2014). "TOP 10 DEBUTS WITH NEW TEAMS". NASCAR. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin Win Budweiser Duel at Daytona Races as Daytona 500 Field is Set". 
  11. ^ Jensen, Tom (October 11, 2014). "Saturday night fight: Emotions spill over for Kenseth, Keselowski". Retrieved October 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ "KESELOWSKI, STEWART PENALIZED FOR CHARLOTTE ACTIONS". NASCAR. October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2014. 
  13. ^ "It's a Girl!". Official website. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  14. ^ Columbus 151 Speedway 2007 Racing Program, August 24, 2007, Retrieved September 1, 2007
  15. ^ Kuehne, Jordan (2009-10-10). "Kenseth Closes Historic Season with Oktoberfest Victory, Big 8 Series Championship". Big 8 Series. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  16. ^ Secola, Jamie (2009-12-05). "Sons of two NASCAR drivers make their marks at Five Flags". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved 7 December 2009. [dead link]
  17. ^ Racing Reference Info

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tony Stewart
NASCAR Winston Cup Champion
Succeeded by
Kurt Busch
Preceded by
Kurt Busch
IROC Champion
Succeeded by
Mark Martin
Preceded by
Tony Stewart
NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Kevin Harvick
Preceded by
Ryan Newman
Trevor Bayne
Daytona 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Jamie McMurray
Jimmie Johnson