Matt Kenseth Celebriduck
Born and raised in Cambridge, WI, just outside of Madison, Matt Kenseth raced on some of the most competitive short tracks in the nation. Kenseth began his stock car racing career in 1988 at the age of 16. In just his third race, Matt, then just a high school junior, won his first feature event.
Kenseth was introduced to racing through his family. "My dad made me a deal when I was 13. He would buy me a race car and drive it if I would work on it and keep it up. Then, when I turned 16, I could drive the car. It was hard work, but it was also a great experience and really prepared me to do more than just steer the car," stated Kenseth.
By the age of 19, Kenseth had already moved up to the ultra-competitive Wisconsin late model ranks. Matt Kenseth became the youngest winner ever in the ARTGO Challenge Series history, capturing an event in LaCrosse, WI. The old record was held by NASCAR Winston Cup star Mark Martin. Many were quick to make comparisons between the two drivers.
Over the next three seasons, Kenseth did little to slow comparisons to great drivers, capturing 46 super-late model victories. In 1993, Matt captured the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Race, a pair of ARTGO features and the Wisconsin Short Track Series 200. The 1994 season proved to be a banner year for Kenseth, as he won track titles at Madison (WI) International Speedway and Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna. Matt also won the prestigious Miller Genuine Draft National Championship, becoming the youngest driver to win the title. Another track title followed in 1995 as Kenseth won 15 out of the 60 events en route to the championship.
During the 1995 season, Matt made his first trip south to the NASCAR All Pro Series, earning a trio of top-three finishes in four starts. In 1996, Kenseth finished a strong third in the rugged Hooters Series, with one victory. During the 1997 season, Matt began driving in the ASA Series for Gary Gunderman's All Star Racing Team. While running in second place in the ASA point standings, Kenseth answered a call from former competitor Robbie Reiser and packed his bags for the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series.
Kenseth took the reins of the No. 17 Reiser Enterprises Monte Carlo on April 19, 1997, at the Nashville Speedway, bringing home an 11th place finish. Kenseth went on to capture two top fives and seven top tens in just 21 starts and finished second in the Rookie of the Year battle.
In 1998, Kenseth's first full Busch season, Matt finished second in the Championship Points Battle, capturing three wins, 17 top-five and 23 top-ten finishes. Kenseth grabbed the most top-ten finishes of all Busch Series contenders in 1998. Matt also made his Winston Cup debut in 1998 at Dover Downs in September, substituting for Bill Elliott in the McDonald's Ford. Kenseth finished an incredible sixth in just his first start, racing hard with top Winston Cup contenders.
Kenseth battled once again for the Busch Series Championship in 1999. Matt grabbed four wins, two poles, 14 top fives and 20 top tens and finished third in the points race. Kenseth also made five Winston Cup starts for Roush Racing and DEWALT Tools in 1999. The highlight came at Dover Downs with Matt grabbing a fourth place finish.
The 2000 season was a breakthrough year for Kenseth. In addition to capturing his first career victory at the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May in just his 18th Winston Cup start, Kenseth finished 14th in the championship points. He captured the coveted Raybestos Rookie of the Year title with unmatched consistency. Kenseth recorded four top-five and 11 top-ten finishes, and collected over $2 million in prize money.
Matt Kenseth had a solid sophomore campaign on the Winston Cup circuit. Despite struggling through an early-season slump, Kenseth finished strong with three top fives in the last six races of the season. Led by Robbie Reiser, Kenseth's pit crew beat out 24 of the best crews in Winston Cup to win the Unocal 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition and set a new world record. Kenseth matched the previous season with four top fives, collected nine top 10s and improved one spot in point standings to finish 13th.
Kenseth's third season in NASCAR's Winston Cup series proved to fans and competitors alike that Kenseth is a driver to watch. With a series-high five victories in 2002, Kenseth became a serious threat in the championship race. Kenseth made his presence known week after week collecting one pole, 11 top fives, and 19 top tens. With Reiser still by his side, Kenseth finished the successful season eighth in the point standings. Matt's crew outperformed the competition once again, winning the World Pit Crew Competition and setting a new world record two years in a row.
Some of the materials used here were adapted from: www.roushracing.com