Keeping Pace

Dad and son will face off

Associated Press Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, above, and his son, Ross, will be on the same track Saturday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, above, and his son, Ross, will be on the same track Saturday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth faces his son Ross in a late model event in Wisconsin this weekend.

From Wire Reports-

MILWAUKEE – Save for one’s addictions to Starbucks and Twitter – obvious signals someone has grown up in the 2000s, not the ’80s – son and father have plenty in common.

Ross Kenseth sounds a lot like Matt Kenseth, not only in his voice and rapid delivery but his quick praise for those who’ve helped him and a healthy distaste for hyperbole and self-promotion. The 16-year-old had a head start in racing, but that’s standard in the sport nowadays, and regardless, they both showed promise early on.

The two are fiercely competitive, of course, but so far their head-to-head battles have centered around football of the fantasy and John Madden video varieties.

Saturday night their relationship will change when Ross, a high school junior, and Matt, a Daytona 500 champion, hit the racetrack together for the first time. The event at Madison International Speedway – twin 50-lap limited late Model features – has been billed as “Kenseth vs. Kenseth” and has received play all over the NASCAR Web sites.

“It’s kind of cool, but it’s also just another race, too,” Ross said this week, the same way you’d expect Matt to answer the question. “The chances of it coming down to us two are pretty slim. There’s going to be a lot of other guys out there with a lot of talent who race at Madison every single week who obviously are going to be there too, like Jeremy Miller and Bobby Wilberg and all those guys.

“It’ll be a lot of fun if we get a chance to race hard. He’s a great driver and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Matt worked on his dad’s car before he got a chance to race it at 16. As a successful NASCAR driver, he was infinitely more equipped to help his own son launch what may or may not become his career.

“There’s so many things that have to happen … and there’s only so far I can take him, so many doors I can open for him,” Matt said. “He’s worked at it really hard, and he likes doing it now, but who knows?

“But to compare me at 16 to him at 16, honestly there’s no comparison. He’s so far ahead of where I was it’s unbelievable.”

The early start has helped Ross, in addition to traveling to a variety of racetracks and the opportunity to work with the same guys who run Matt’s extracurricular short-track program. But he also possesses more common sense and a cooler head, according to Matt. That’s lifted Ross to the level Matt was at age 20 or 21.

Matt’s 37 now, with 43 victories in NASCAR’s top two divisions, a Winston Cup championship and an IROC title to his credit. He made the most of his time in racing since Ross was born.

Now let’s watch the years to come and see just how similar father and son turn out.

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.



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