BUSCH: Matt Kenseth Looks for Sweep at Rockingham

Kenseth bringing broom to the Rock ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 28, 1998) Matt Kenseth and his Robbie Reiser-led Lycos Chevrolet racing team return to the 1.017-mile North Carolina Speedway for Saturday's AC Delco 200 looking for a sweep of this ...

Kenseth bringing broom to the Rock

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 28, 1998) Matt Kenseth and his Robbie Reiser-led Lycos Chevrolet racing team return to the 1.017-mile North Carolina Speedway for Saturday's AC Delco 200 looking for a sweep of this year's Rockingham races in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division. At the same time, they hope to cut into the 102-point advantage that Dale Earnhardt Jr. currently has in the battle for the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series championship with three races remaining. "We're coming back to Rockingham ready to win again, that's for sure," said Kenseth, who recorded his first career Busch Series victory in the last Rockingham race, the Feb. 21 GM Goodwrench 200. "We're chasing Dale for the championship so we can't hold back anything. We have to go in with a goal of qualifying well, leading the race and winning."

According to crew chief Reiser, coming back to a track you have already won at early in the year is good news, but ...

"The bad news is that we won't be bringing back the same car that we won the February race with because we wiped it out it in the first Dover race," said Reiser, whose team has posted one win, two second-place finishes, four top-fives and five top-10s in the last five races. "But, the good news is that we will be bringing the same car that we were so dominant with in winning the last race at Dover three races ago.

"The car that we crashed at Dover in the spring was Matt's favorite," said Reiser. "We did our best job of making a carbon copy of that car. It was known as 'Car 4' around the shop. Well, we built the new car...even referred to it as the new 'Car 4'...and took it back to Dover for its first race. You know what we did there (started fourth, dominated the race and won). We think this car is even better than the other one. It hasn't been raced since we won at Dover."

Kenseth's first NASCAR Busch Series win in February at Rockingham came in his 24th career start. He started 27th and led only the final lap, lap 197. The initial win came in dramatic fashion as Kenseth emerged the victor after dueling it out with pole-winner and Indy Racing League star Tony Stewart on the last lap.

"We started back in the pack, but ran strong all day long," recalled Kenseth of his 0.092-second win over Stewart "We used a lot of patience working our way up to the front. Robbie and the guys gave me good pit stops. It was evident that we had the best car at the end. We finally got up to the 44 car's (Stewart) bumper with three laps to go. We kept on making runs at him and kept on getting cut off by the lapped cars.

"On the last lap, we got a real good run on him off the second turn. We were side-by-side and I thought we might get by him down the backstretch, but the lapped cars pinched us off again. We were on his bumper again in turn three and got a really good run off the fourth turn. The air got him a little loose and when he came back down I just barely nudged him, got him a little loose and got by for the win. He was trying to win as hard as he could and so were we. I thought we could have won the race one-on-one, but we got with some lapped traffic there and that's just the way it turned out."

And the way things have turned out for Kenseth, Reiser and team since that first win is most impressive. In the 26 races since winning the Rockingham race with an unsponsored race car, they have amassed a super record which boasts two more race wins and a total of 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10 finishes.

Lycos, an internet search engine, came on board as the team's major sponsor shortly after the win. Kenseth and his Reiser Enterprises Team recently announced that DeWalt Tools has signed on as the team's major sponsor for the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series campaign and that Luxaire will be an associate sponsor of the team.

"I can think back and honestly say that the first win at Rockingham didn't take me by surprise," said Reiser. "We had some strong runs at the end of last season and we all knew how hard we had worked through the winter getting ready for this year. I knew at least that we were headed in the right direction and felt like it was just a matter of time before the wins came. It's such a big bonus when you have a driver like Matt on your team. He's like our quarterback. He's our Brett Favre." Kenseth trails Earnhardt by 102 points (4,121 for Earnhardt to 4,019 for Kenseth) with Saturday's Rockingham race and races at Atlanta and Homestead, Fla., remaining on the 1998 schedule. "We still have a shot at winning the championship and we'll be trying till the very end," said Kenseth. "But if we come up short in reaching that goal, we know that we've had a great season and look to be even stronger next year."

When Matt & Robbie won the February Rockingham race, Matt celebrated by doing "doughnuts" in the grassy area between the track and pit road.

"Matt took the checkered flag and told me on the radio what he was going to do, but I was so wrapped up in the fact that we won that it just didn't register," chuckled Robbie. "When we came back from doing the press interviews, I went over to the inspection area and the atmosphere was like there was a funeral going on or something. There was Ray Hill and Kevin Triplett (NASCAR officials) waiting on me. They called me in and reprimanded me pretty good. And Matt...that rascal...he got off the hook all the way around. They never got him for it. I told him that he'd better watch it or he might just have to be (Rockingham GM) Chris Browning's full-time lawn care man."

Contrary to prior published reports, Matt, Robbie & team will be using the same car they tested with at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Stihl 300 there on Nov. 7. After turning in the test session's fastest lap (of some 20 teams testing there on 10/21) of 184.430 mph, Matt slammed hard into the turn three wall and skidded some 850 feet before coming to rest on the fourth turn apron.

"It needed a front clip and a rear clip, but it's such a good car that we just had to fix it," said Robbie of "Car 2", which was last raced at Charlotte on Oct. 3, where Matt started second and finished second. "Believe it or not, but the car is back in the paint shop right now getting painted. The guys did a great job and now we should be able to go back at Atlanta without missing a beat."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Chris Brown