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Kenseth Says He’s Not Yet Ready For A Rocker

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 17 2015
Matt Kenseth says he will race on. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

Matt Kenseth says he will race on. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Food City 500 pole winner Matt Kenseth is only a year younger than Jeff Gordon, but unlike the four-time NASCAR champion who is in his final full-time Sprint Cup season, Kenseth says he doesn’t see the checkered flag waving on his driving career any time soon.

bugnotes“I feel as good as I did 10 years ago and I’d like to say that I do as good or better job behind the wheel than I did then, although some of you might argue because we are in somewhat of a dry spell,” said the 43-year-old Kenseth, who hasn’t won a Sprint Cup race since September 2013 at New Hampshire.

Gordon will celebrate his 44th birthday in August and Kenseth told the media Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that he believed the Hendrick Motorsports driver simply reached that point in his career when he knew it was time to do something different.

“I’m sure the fortunate few that can keep jobs and keep running and don’t just fade out because they can’t get a competitive job anymore can decide when that happens, so I hope I’m fortunate enough to be one of those guys,” said Kenseth, winner of 31 Sprint Cup races and the 2003 series championship.

Richard Childress Racing said Friday it would appeal the ruling issued Thursday by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel regarding the tire violation for which NASCAR penalized the team on March 31. The appeals panel reduced the number of points driver Ryan Newman and car owner Childress lost as a result of the penalty. Both men regained 25 points each. However, the appeals panel upheld the six-race suspension of crew chief Luke Lambert, tire technician James Bender and race engineer Philip Surgen. NASCAR maintains the team altered the tires so air pressure could be released beyond normal pressure adjustments.

The date for National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss to hear RCR’s appeal has not been set.

When Ross Kenseth makes his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut June 20 at Chicagoland Speedway it will come in one of the series top rides – the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota.

“It’s a great shot and he’s worked really hard for it,” father Matt Kenseth said Friday. “He won a lot of big short-track races and he’s never going to be more ready for the opportunity than he is now.”

The older Kenseth admitted his son stepping into a JGR car was something that had been discussed a great deal, even in the past. When Darrell Wallace Jr. moved to Roush Fenway Racing this year and “some other things” happened an opportunity was created for him in JGR’s Xfinity program. The 21-year-old Kenseth also competes in selected ARCA races for Ken Schrader Racing.

Darrell Wallace Jr. says he is pleased with his move to Roush Fenway Racing with the exception that he’s still winless on the season.

“I think it’s been a really smooth transition since the start of the season,” Wallace said. “It’s really been just getting comfortable with everything.”

In the season’s first six races, Wallace produced top-10 finishes at Las Vegas and Texas and top-15 finishes in the other four events.

“I think our best race was Auto Club, which was really early in the season, were I just messed up there and got in the fence early,” said Wallace, who finished 12th in the event. “It was a rookie mistake on my end, but this past weekend in Texas was another good run for us, too.

“It’s cool how fast we are jelling and vibing and getting used to everything. The guys are a lot of fun. It’s really a young group of guys. Chad (Norris) is, I think, the youngest crew chief I’ve had, so that’s a milestone knocked off. As far as sponsorship, we are gonna be at Homestead.”

Jesse Little, son of former NASCAR driver and now NASCAR executive Chad Little, has earned the pole for Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Sherrills Ford, N.C., resident was the series top rookie in 2013. Joining him on the front row is Brandon Jones, from Atlanta.

Austin Hill, the series point leader, qualified 11th in the 28-car field that has 12 rookies.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 17 2015
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