Dover Kenseth Impressive on McDonald's Car

Kenseth impresses in McDonald's car By Dave Rodman DOVER, Del. (Sept. 18, 1998) Matt Kenseth knows he'll spend the 1999 season running Robbie Reiser's Chevrolets in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, but after that -- especially...

Kenseth impresses in McDonald's car By Dave Rodman

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 18, 1998) Matt Kenseth knows he'll spend the 1999 season running Robbie Reiser's Chevrolets in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, but after that -- especially based on his work Friday in Bill Elliott's McDonald's Ford at Dover Downs International Speedway -- you can bet that Kenseth's address will permanently be in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Kenseth, the second-year NASCAR Busch Series driver from Cambridge, Wis., is the middle man in a three-driver race for the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series championship. But he'll make his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in Sunday's MBNA Gold 400 from the 16th starting position while substituting for Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. Elliott's father, George Elliott, 74, died at home Thursday evening in Dawsonville, Ga. The driver hurriedly left Dover to attend to family business in Georgia. Team manager Mike Beam paid a visit first thing Friday morning to the NASCAR Busch Series garage at Dover, where Kenseth was preparing to run Saturday's MBNA Gold 200 in the Reiser Enterprises/Lycos Chevrolet. "I had never talked to them about running their car before and I hardly knew Mike -- I had only seen him once or twice at some test sessions I was at with Mark (Martin)," Kenseth said, still marveling over the suddenness of his good fortune, tempered as it was by Elliott's loss. "I hate the circumstances, for Bill, that brought this about... "But after Mike came down and talked to Robbie and to me about possibly running their car, I went right down and got fitted in the car. I'll tell you, it's a real big honor for them to pick me to run their car, given all the other guys who are here they could've talked to." Beam's choice of Kenseth -- who has a driver development contract with Roush Racing -- received the approval of NASCAR Winston Cup Director Gary Nelson and NASCAR Vice President for Competition Mike Helton and he was on track. And Kenseth quickly proved Elliott, Beam and McDonald's crew chief Joe Garone had made the right choice. He was 17th quickest in morning practice with a lap of 23.381 seconds, an average speed of 153.971 mph. He upped it to 155.191 mph in what seemed almost an effortless manner in the afternoon session prior to Bud Pole Qualifying. He said it came from a combination of factors -- most based around good communication. "Mike Beam and Joe are so easy to get along with, they've got so much experience and they are so knowledgeable, we were able to make a lot of progress pretty quickly," said Kenseth, who had no trouble making the transition between the two garage areas that are separated by the quarter-mile horse track tucked into Dover's infield. "The car was pretty loose to begin with, but everything they did to it seemed to help it and everything I said they were able to relate to changes that helped the car. "This was, without a doubt, the quickest understanding I've ever come to with a race team as far as getting a car working in pretty short order." Kenseth was also quick and consistent in his Lycos Chevy, and busted his fastest lap when it counted, a fourth-best effort of 23.618 seconds and 152.426 mph in Bud Pole Qualifying for the MBNA Gold 200. While Kenseth's NASCAR Winston Cup Series effort fell in between his two practice runs, he wasn't too disappointed. "Heck no -- considering what happened at our last Winston Cup race," Kenseth said of a DNQ in last spring's DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in a Roush Racing Ford. "It seemed like we left a little on the table in qualifying, but we're in the race and that's OK. "We expect to finish the race on Sunday, but mostly we want to keep the car adjusted, stay on the lead lap and try to get a good finish out of it. The experience is what I'm really looking forward to." And it's something Kenseth is taking to the bank for the future. "I'll run a full season in the Busch Series in 1999 for Reiser Enterprises," Kenseth said as he hustled to a meeting with his NASCAR Winston Cup Series team following the end of NASCAR Busch Series Happy Hour practice. "We just signed a major sponsor that we're going to announce at Charlotte. "Whether or not we'll do any Cup races next year, I don't know right now...I'm just looking forward to working with this team on Sunday and having a good race tomorrow with the Busch car, also."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Mike Helton