Matt Kenseth Might Driver for Mark Martin in 2000

Roush: Kenseth could drive for Martin By Shawn A. Akers MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 23, 1999) In a way, Matt Kenseth has become Mark Martin's protege. Next year, Jack Roush said, Kenseth just may become Martin's driver. During the weekly R.J.

Roush: Kenseth could drive for Martin By Shawn A. Akers

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 23, 1999) In a way, Matt Kenseth has become Mark Martin's protege. Next year, Jack Roush said, Kenseth just may become Martin's driver.

During the weekly R.J. Reynolds NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference on Tuesday, Roush said Martin, the driver of Roush Racing's No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Taurus, has expressed interest in becoming a NASCAR Winston Cup team owner next year with Kenseth behind the wheel.

That venture would be much in the mold of Dale Earnhardt, who is still active in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, owning the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, driven by Steve Park. Earnhardt will also field another car full-time next year in the series with his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., as the driver.

Meanwhile, speculation continues to percolate that Kenseth will drive a Roush car in several NASCAR Winston Cup races this season. He has already won once this season -- the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway -- last Saturday.

Kenseth said following his victory at Darlington that he will participate in five NASCAR Winston Cup events this season to maintain his rookie status for the year 2000. On Saturday, Kenseth said he couldn't elaborate on the details of that venture at this time, although speculation has Roush involved.

Kenseth has already made his mark in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. While subbing for Bill Elliott in Elliott's No. 94 McDonald's Ford last year, Kenseth finished sixth in the MBNA Gold 400 in his NASCAR Winston Cup debut. Last Sunday as a relief driver for the injured Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac, Kenseth finished a respectable 10th after Labonte started the car.

Martin first brought Kenseth, the current NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division point leader, to Roush's attention in the latter part of 1997. Kenseth went on to finish second in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings a year ago with three victories. Roush signed Kenseth to a "driver development contract" on Martin's recommendation.

"Matt Kenseth is like Mark Martin's protege," Roush said. "He started bragging on Matt, and he said for me to watch him. It came clear for Mark that this kid's got a lot of talent. He encouraged Geoff Smith (the president of Roush Racing), to take a look at a program for Matt.

"He (Smith) went out and found LYCOS.com to sponsor the team last season, and he helped make the DeWalt deal this year for them. Mark advised the team on personnel and hardware. Now, Matt's going to make the move to Winston Cup (in the year 2000) and we'd like to have involvement with him. Mark's come forward and said he'd like to be an owner of a team, something to the effect of Mark Martin Racing, and we're very much in support of that."

Roush said that entire project is still in the "developmental stages," but that DeWalt Tools, the sponsor of Kenseth's No. 17 Robbie Reiser Enterprises Chevrolet this season, has "expressed interest in going forward (with Kenseth), with the possibility of operating out of the Roush stable."

"You look at the Busch Series and Matt and young Earnhardt (Dale Jr.) look like they'll be the ones to race for the championship," Roush said of the best of the up-and-coming talent pool. "Mark picked Matt as an up-and-coming young guy, a lot like Mark himself was at that stage of his career, and you can't get a much better endorsement than that."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jack Roush , Steve Park. , Mark Martin