Matthew Roy "Matt" Kenseth (born March 10 1972) is an American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #17 Crown Royal Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Matt currently drives the #17 Crown Royal Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing. He is currently the defending Daytona 500 champion, having won a rain-shortened race in 2009, the first Daytona 500 win for the Roush Fenway Racing team. Kenseth followed that up with a win at California Speedway moving his win list up to 18 in Sprint Cup.
Kenseth started racing on several short tracks in Wisconsin and he 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 Busch Series (now Nationwide Series), 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 season 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.
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. Matt began stock car racing in 1988 at the age of 16 at Madison International Speedway. "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." "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." He ran for the points title on Saturday nights at Wisconsin Dells) in 1989. He finished second in points and won eight features. On Friday nights, he ran about half of the races at Golden Sands Speedway and half at Columbus 151 Speedway. In 1990, he bought a late model from Rich Bickle. 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. He finished sixth in season points and won the track's rookie of the year award. Kenseth entered fifteen ARTGO events that season and raced in 40 features that year. 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. In 1991 he won the ARTGO race at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway to become the youngest winner in the series' history. He passed Joe Shear and Steve Holzhausen, and held off Steve and Tom Carlson for the win. 1992 was a difficult year for Kenseth. He won three races and blew up more engines than he could count. He was ready to quit racing after the season. "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." Kipley Performance loaned a motor to Kenseth for the season-final race at LaCrosse and the team ran better. Kenseth built a new car for 1993 using a Kipley engine. He used the car at Madison to win eight features and finished second in the points. 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. At the end of the season, they won the final short track series race at Madison, LaCrosse, and I-70 Speedway.
The 1994 and 1995 seasons established Kenseth as a short track star. 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. Kenseth competed against Reiser at Madison, and won 12 of 17 features at the track. He won the 1994 Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway. 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. Butz's wife Patty Butz said "We knew by 1995 that Matt had too much talent to be with us for very long."
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. 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. He finished third in the Hooters Series, nearly winning the series championship as a rookie. 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. Kenseth was disappointed because they were unable to attract major sponsorship. "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." 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. The team raced together for two races in 1997 before Kenseth received a telephone call from a former competitor.
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. 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." 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. 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. He passed thirteen cars to finish seventh. Kenseth had two Top 5 finishes during the partial season. 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, culmulating in a second- and third-place finishes in the Busch points. Matt drove the No. 17 Chevrolet sponsored first by Kraft, then Lycos, and most recently by DeWalt.
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 Matt walked away.
Kenseth made his Winston Cup series debut in 1998 at Dover, Del., filling in for Bill Elliott who had to attend his father's funeral on the day of the race. He finished sixth, the third best debut of any driver. The last driver before Matt to debut with a top-10 finish was Rusty Wallace in 1980 with a second place finish in Atlanta.
In 2000 Kenseth's entire team joined the Roush Racing organization, where they beat out Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. He won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and is still 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. The DeWalt team won a second Unocal 76 World Pit Crew Competition.
In 2003 he dominated in the points standings for almost the entire season and became the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, the last driver to ever hold that title. In so doing, he also became only the second Wisconsinite to win the championship (the late Alan Kulwicki was the first, in 1992). Kenseth also had a series best 25 top 10 finishes.
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 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. 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.
Matt 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. Matt 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.
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, Matt was left as the only driver to complete every lap this 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 Matt'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.
In 2007, Kenseth finished fourth in the point standings in the NEXTEL Cup Series. Kenseth won two races, the Auto Club 500 and the Ford 400, and earned $6,485,630 in winnings.
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, would squeeze 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.
Matt 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. He led only 1 green flag lap (of 7 laps led), after starting the race in 43rd. It was Kenseth's tenth attempt at "The Great American Race".
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. Kenseth's bids for a third straight victory, went south after engine failure.
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.
After finishing 25th at the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond, Kenseth was bumped out of the Chase by Brian Vickers. This will leave Jimmie Johnson as the only driver to have made the Chase every time since its inception in 2004.
In 2000, Kenseth married Katie Martin, also from Cambridge. Matt had a son named Ross from previous relationship. Matt and Katie's daughter Kaylin Nicola was born July 6, 2009. Ross raced a legends car for one year in Wisconsin before starting in limited late model racing as a 14 year old. 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.
Matt and Katie have four cats, one named Lars after Lars Ulrich of Metallica (Kenseth's favorite band), one named Charlotte after the site of Kenseth's first Winston Cup win, and the most recent additions, two kittens, one named Miley and one named Sulley. The Kenseth cats have been featured in NASCAR pets calendars to raise money and awareness for Humane Societies and animal charities. Matt has also been featured on a READ poster for the American Library Association. In addition, he is a licensed private pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings. The Kenseths currently reside in North Carolina.
Kenseth operates a racing museum in his hometown of Cambridge, Wis., which features cars, trophies, firesuits, helmets, and other memorabilia from his amateur and professional career. His sister, Kelley Maruszewski, manages the museum and its retail store while also running his official Fan Club.
Kenseth drew criticism about the conservative style he employed–winning just one race–en route to winning his 2003 championship. His win is widely believed to be the final straw that led the sanctioning body to incorporate the playoff-style Chase for the Championship that debuted in 2004. The championship had been clinched before the final race of the season in five of the previous six years, and television ratings dropped each time as the series battled the National Football League for autumn TV ratings.
Since his 2003 championship season he has been involved in skirmishes with drivers Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon (particularly during the 2006 Food City 500 at Bristol), Dale Jarrett and teammates Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray (while McMurray was with Ganassi).
The Chase For The Cup has sometimes been referred to by the moniker "The Matt Kenseth Rule" by detractors.
Sprint Cup Series: Matt Kenseth's primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series is DeWALT Power tools. He is also sponsored by Carhartt, USG Sheetrock, R+L Carriers, and Dish Network. Dish Network will be the primary sponsor at Bristol in March. USG usually sponsors between 4 to 6 races. Carhartt usually sponsors 3 to 4 races. R+L Carriers are usually on for 3 to 4 races as well. As of July 23, 2009, NASCAR announced that the 10-year sponsorship with DeWalt will be coming to a close at the end of the 2009 season due to financial constrictions and a slow economy in the construction industry.
On July 29 it was announced that Crown Royal would be sponsoring the 17 car for 18 races in 2010. Roush Fenway racing also announced that current driver Jamie McMurray who was sponsored by Crown Royal this season will be released at the end of the year.
|NASCAREliteCareer=Y |SESCareer=Y |SWSCareer=Y |ASACareer=Y |ASAMWTCareer=Y }}
|Born||March 10, 1972|
|Awards||2003 Winston Cup Champion
2000 Rookie of the Year2004 IROC champion
|2005 Sprint Cup position||7th|
|Best cup position||1st - 2003 (Winston Cup)|
|Statistics current as of August 26, 2006.|
Matt began stock car racing in 1988 at the age of 16, and won the feature in his third night of racing. Kenseth made a name for himself while driving at several Wisconsin tracks for Mike Butz in the #8 late model, beating nationally known drivers such as Dick Trickle and Robbie Reiser. He won the 1994 and 1995 track championships at Wisconsin International Raceway. He also won track championships at Madison International Speedway and in Oregon, Wisconsin. He decided to go south to the Hooters Pro Cup series in 1996 and nearly won the series championship as a rookie.
Kenseth made his Busch Series debut in 1996. In 1997, snowmobile racer Tim Bender got injured, and Bender's crew chief/owner Robbie Reiser called his former competitor Kenseth to fill in until Bender was healed. The Reiser-Kenseth combination proved successful, culmulating in a second- and third-place finishes in the Busch points. Matt drove the No. 17 car with sponsored by first Kraft, then Lycos and lastly DeWalt.
Kenseth made his Winston Cup series debut in 1998 at Dover, Del., filling in for Bill Elliott who had to attend his mother's funeral on the day of the race. He finished sixth. The last driver before Matt to debut with a top-10 finish was Rusty Wallace.
In 2001 Kenseth finished 13th in points.
In 2002 Kenseth won the most races (five) and one pole, but inconsistency caused him to finish eighth in the final points.
In 2003 he dominated in the points standings for almost the entire season and became the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, the last driver to ever hold that title. In so doing, he also became only the second Wisconsinite to win the championship (the late Alan Kulwicki was the first, in 1992).
There was criticism about the conservative style he employed en route to winning that championship - he won just one race - which is widely believed to be the final straw that led the sanctioning body to incorporate the playoff-style Chase for the Championship that debuted in 2004. The championship had been clinched before the final race of the season in five of the previous six years, and television ratings dropped each time as the series battled the National Football League for autumn TV ratings.
Kenseth started the 2005 season with relatively poor finishes but had a strong mid-season run. He rose from the lower teens in championship points to eighth in eight races, and he qualified for the Chase for the Cup. He finished seventh in the final points standings. 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.
Matt 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. Matt 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. Matt also won at Michigan with pit stategy and Bristol. With two races to go in the Race to the Chase, 1st and 2nd in the standings (Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth) are basically locked in the Chase.
In 2000, he married Katie Martin. Matt has one child, a son, Ross, from a previous relationship. Matt and Katie have two cats, one named Lars after Lars Ulrich of Metallica (Kenseth's favorite band), and one named Charlotte after the site of Kenseth's first Winston Cup win.
Kenseth has drawn criticism for his relatively quiet personality and his boring conservative style, clean racing and not putting "the pedal to the metal" for the win. Because of this, he is rarely mentioned among the elite core of NASCAR drivers.
Since his 2003 championship season he has been involved in several skirmishes with drivers Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, which have eroded on this image. After a slow start to 2005, he has been a weekly frontrunner since the middle of the 2005 season.
The Chase For The Cup has sometimes been affectionately referred to by the moniker "The Matt Kenseth Rule".
|2008||17||Daytona 2||R&L Carriers||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2008||17||California 1||Carhartt||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2008||17||Bristol 1||Dish Network||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2008||17||Las Vegas||USG Sheetrock||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2007||17||Lowe's 2||Carhartt for Women||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2007||17||Dover 2||Dewalt Nano||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2007||17||California 2||R&L Carriers||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2007||17||Bristol 1||Arby's||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2007||17||California 1||Carhartt||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2006||17||Bud Shootout||Post||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2006||17||Lowe's 1||R&L Carriers||Ford Fusion||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2005||17||Chicagoland||USG Sheetrock||Ford Taurus||Roush Racing|
|2004||17||Lowe's 1||Smirnoff Ice||Ford Taurus||Roush Racing|
|2003||17||Lowe's 2||Carhartt||Ford Taurus||Roush Racing|
During the 2006 Daytona 500, Tony Stewart cut Kenseth of and ran him into the infield. Stewart was penalized by NASCAR and Kenseth also was penalized for rubbing on Stewart coming off of pit road. The feud later reignited in the Nascar Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge