Matt Kenseth held off Ryan Newman to win the International Race of Champions and clinch the series championship Saturday at Hampton, Ga.
Kenseth went 2 for 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, also winning the Aaron’s 312 Busch Series race.
Newman held the points lead coming into the last of IROC’s four races. But, with a push from fellow Nextel Cup star Kurt Busch, Kenseth slipped by Kevin Harvick with 13 laps to go and crossed the line 0.257 seconds ahead of Newman.
“We had a good day, that’s for sure,” Kenseth said. “My Busch guys did a good job of preparing a good car and getting us where we needed to be at the end of the race. The IROC was a lot of fun. I was fortunate enough to have Kurt give me a big shove at the end.”
Kenseth, the 2003 Nextel Cup champion, finished his first year in IROC with 71 points. He earned five crucial bonus points in the last event: two for being second after the first segment of the 65-lap race, three more for leading the second-most laps, 13.
Newman wound up four points behind Kenseth, who won the final two events in the series to claim the $1 million prize.
“It definitely means a lot because we’re in equally prepared cars,” Kenseth said. “It’s fun when you go out there and make the moves and you’re all in the same cars and nobody has a spotter or anything. They’re all just out there racing for fun.
“In a way, it’s sort of like going to the go-kart track with all your buddies, and they give you all the same go-karts, and you go out there and slam it out and try to win.”
Harvick ran up from much of the way, leading 46 laps on the 1.54-mile tri-oval. But he dropped back to seventh at the end.
World of Outlaws star Danny Lasoski had an impressive showing, finishing third at the high-banked track.
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