Charlotte: Kenseth - NASCAR spotlight

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 20, 2003) -- Atop the NASCAR Top 10 and back at a track where he got his first -- and so far, biggest -- NASCAR Winston Cup victory, heavy-metal fan Matt Kenseth is making his own kind of noise thus far this ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 20, 2003) -- Atop the NASCAR Top 10 and back at a track where he got his first -- and so far, biggest -- NASCAR Winston Cup victory, heavy-metal fan Matt Kenseth is making his own kind of noise thus far this season.

Metallica is Kenseth's band of choice. Kenseth even has a cat named Lars, named after the band's drummer/founder Lars Ulrich. Seem strange? Not really. Metallica's early lineup of songs, after all, does read like a stock-car soundtrack:

Mechanix ... Motorbreath ... Metal Militia.

Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has, in contrast, a soft-spoken image that belies his affinity for such "serious" sounding stuff. Of course, Kenseth's soft-spoken image also belies his affinity for such a serious activity as NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

It's getting serious this season. After winning a series-high five races in 2002 and finishing eighth in points, Kenseth has started this season with nine top-10 finishes in the first 11 races. As a result, he has led the series standings since the season's fourth race.

Coming into Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Kenseth is boosted by a solid sixth-place finish in The Winston all-star event last Saturday night at LMS. The same car will be used this weekend.

"It turns out that we have a pretty good car for Charlotte," Kenseth said.

Kenseth had a pretty good car in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600. He won the race and went on to take the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. Three years later he's leading the 36-race run for NASCAR's biggest prize, ahead of guys named Earnhardt, Gordon, Labonte, Waltrip and Wallace.

It's getting noisy indeed. And it could get noisier. Remember, Kenseth was runner-up in last year's Coca-Cola 600. He also has three more races this season where he'll be defending champion: Michigan in June, Richmond in September and Phoenix in November.

Incidentally, here's the title of another Metallica tune: "Hero of the Day."

A theme song for Kenseth on Sunday?

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth