About Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth’s victory in the 2012 Daytona 500 placed the driver into an elite group of only 11 drivers in the history of NASCAR who have won the famed race more than once. With his first Daytona 500 win in 2009, the Cambridge, Wisconsin, native became one of only five drivers in the sport’s history to win a Cup Championship, the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award, and the Daytona 500, placing him in the elite company of Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, David Pearson, and Richard Petty.
During his 17-year Sprint Cup career Matt Kenseth has qualified for the Chase for the Cup in 10 of its 11 seasons, and he boasts an International Race of Champions (IROC) title from 2004. Kenseth has visited victory lane in the Cup series on 31 occasions, scored 151 top-five finishes, 270 top-10 finishes, 13 poles and took home the 2003 Sprint Cup Series Championship to become Roush Fenway Racing’s first Cup champion. Kenseth has also collected 29 wins in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series including the series’ season-finale event at Homestead in 2014. Kenseth has earned 135 top-five finishes, 197 top-ten finishes, and 16 poles in his 283 starts in the series.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Kenseth began his racing career at the age of 16, winning his first feature event in only his third race. By the age of 19, Kenseth was racing against the likes of Dick Trickle, Ted Musgrave, and Rich Bickle in the Wisconsin late model ranks. With a win in LaCrosse, Wis., Kenseth set a new record for being the youngest winner in ARTGO Challenge Series history, a distinction previously held by his future teammate Mark Martin.
Kenseth took the Wisconsin racing ranks by storm in the early ’90s, winning racesand track titles at venues all across the state; he became the youngest driver to everwinthe prestigious Miller Genuine Draft National Championships in 1994.
Following another Wisconsin track title in 1995, successful runs in the NASCAR All Pro Series (1995), the Hooters Series (1996), and the ASA Series (1997), Kenseth got a fateful call in 1997 from fellow Wisconsin racer Robbie Reiser, who asked Kenseth to drive for his team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The Kenseth-Reiser tandem debuted on April 19, 1997, at Nashville Speedway, finishing 11th. Kenseth went on to capture two top-five and seven top-10 finishes driving a Chevy in 21 starts in the then-Busch series, and finished second in the Rookie of the Year battle.
In 1998, Kenseth’s first full Nationwide series season, he finished second in the championship points with three wins. He also made his Cup debut, substituting for Bill Elliott in the McDonald’s Ford at Dover in September. The young Kenseth drove to an impressive sixth-place finish in his first run with NASCAR’s elite.
Kenseth finished third in the Nationwide series points in 1999. He also made five Cup starts in the No. 17 DEWALT Ford.
In 2000, Matt and the No. 17 team went full-time Cup racing. He won his first career Cup race at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and earned four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. For his efforts, he was named the 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
The team finished strong in 2001, with three top-five finishes in the last six races. In addition, the No. 17 pit crew set a world record in winning the Unocal 76/ Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition, besting 24 other teams for the honor.
In 2002, Kenseth registered a series-best five victories, and finished eighth in the final point standings. The No. 17 crew won its second straight Unocal 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition with another world record, conducting a full pit stop in 16.81 seconds.
Kenseth, Reiser, and Roush Fenway Racing made it all click in 2003 as the No. 17 DEWALT Tools Ford team won the final Winston-era Cup Championship with a record-setting performance. Kenseth’s consistency kept the rest of the field at bay with a series-best 23 top-10 finishes and 11 top-five finishes. Kenseth led the championship point standings for a record-breaking 34 straight weeks en route to Roush Fenway Racing’s first-ever Cup title.
Kenseth and the team picked up where they left off, winning two of the first three races in 2004. Kenseth qualified for the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup and finished eighth in the final standings. In addition, he followed up his 2003 Cup title by capturing the prestigious International Race of Champions (IROC) title, winning two of the series’ four events.
The 2005 season is most remembered for the terrific surge that saw Kenseth charge from 24th in the points in mid-June – a staggering 320 points out of 10th – to clinching his second birth in the Chase for the Cup just 12 weeks later. During that stretch, the No. 17 DEWALT Ford led 626 laps, scored six top-five finishes and a victory to clinch a spot in the 10-car ‘playoff.’ The team would finish the season seventh.
Kenseth won four times in the Cup car in 2006, including back-to-back victories in August at Michigan and Bristol. He become the first driver since Dale Earnhardt to win back-to-back Bristol night races and he became one of only three drivers to make the Chase for the Cup in each of its first three seasons. Kenseth entered the 2006 10-race Chase ‘playoff’ atop the point standings and went on to finish second in the final standings, 56 points outside of first. Along the way he set career highs for top-five finishes (15), laps led (1,132), and average finish (9.8).
Matt would once again qualify for the Chase in 2007, making him only one of two drivers to accomplish the feat in the first four seasons of the format’s existence. He ran virtually the entire ‘regular’ season inside the top five before hitting a string of tough luck early in the Chase. Still, the team responded with a string of five straight top-five finishes to end the season, culminating with a victory in the season finale at Homestead, which was long-time crew chief Robbie Reiser's last atop the pit box. Kenseth finished the season fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings and his 624 laps led in the Chase were the most of any driver.
In 2008 Matt once again secured his place in the NASCAR Chase for the Cup running to 20 top-10 finishes and an 11th-place finish in the point standings. He also made his 300th Cup start at Phoenix in April.
In 2009 Kenseth began the season with back-to-back victories, winning NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl — the Daytona 500 — and followed that up with a win the next week at California Speedway. However, the team would struggle down the stretch, narrowly missing the “Chase for the Cup” for the first time in its six-year existence. In fact, Kenseth became the first driver in Chase history to hold a qualifying position for the Chase each of the first 25 weeks of the season without qualifying for the Chase. In addition to the two wins, Kenseth earned his fourth career Cup pole, qualifying first at Darlington in May. At Darlington that same weekend he won his 25th Nationwide race, and earned Nationwide poles at Richmond and Texas. Kenseth finished the season 14th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
Matt’s 2010 season began with new primary sponsorship from Crown Royal on the No. 17 Ford. Although the team started the season off with some strong results, especially a second-place finish at Atlanta in March, by mid-season, the team was searching for better performance. Kenseth and veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig were reunited in late June and the pair was able to steer the team back to success. Kenseth earned a berth in the Chase and found himself challenging for the win at Texas in November. Kenseth and his Crown Royal Ford finished inside the top 10 in five of his final eight starts of 2010, and finished the 2010 Sprint Cup season fifth in the driver point standings.
2011 once again found Kenseth paired up with Fennig on the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford, and the pair was eager to pick up where they left off at the end of 2010. Matt earned the pole at Last Vegas at the start of the season, then went on to snap a 76-race winless streak at Texas earning the Crown Royal brand a Texas-sized win in April. A month later, Kenseth and Fennig used pit strategy to their advantage to earn their second win of the season at Dover. During the summer stretch, Kenseth and the No. 17 team earned several top-five finishes including two runner-up results at Michigan and Daytona. After qualifying for the 2011 Chase, Kenseth earned his second pole of the season at Chicago and rounded out the season with a third pole at Phoenix in November, making it the most poles Kenseth has earned in any Sprint Cup Series season. Kenseth’s third victory of the season came at Charlotte in October after a dominant performance by the No. 17 Ford. Kenseth earned a total of three wins, 12 top five, and 20 top-ten finishes in 2011 and finished the season fourth in the driver point standings.
The 2012 Sprint Cup season found the pairing of Kenseth and Fennig a team to be reckoned with. Kenseth dominated Daytona Speedweeks by winning his respective Gatorade Duel qualifying race before earning his second Daytona 500 Championship. Despite some disappointing finishes in the first half of the season, Kenseth rebounded to lead the point standings for six weeks during mid-summer. Kenseth earned the pole award at Daytona in July, then finished up the season with two trips to Victory Lane during the 2012 Chase at Talladega and Kansas. 2012 also saw Kenseth earn his career-best average start of 13.3 and his best average finish since 2006 of 11.1. Kenseth ended the year seventh in the point standings as he closed the chapter on his racing career with Roush Fenway Racing.
Kenseth turned what many viewed as a transition year with a new race team and new style of race car into a career-best season in 2013. Kenseth and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team showcased their strength on the race track with a series-best seven victories and challenged for the title until the very last race of the season. Of his seven wins in 2013, four of them came at tracks where Kenseth had never won at in the Sprint Cup Series (Darlington, Kentucky, Chicago and New Hampshire). His 1,783 laps led and 8.1 average starting position were career bests. Kenseth led the point standings for a total of seven weeks during the season and began his ninth appearance in the Chase as the top seed. Kenseth finished second in the standings, just 19 points out of the lead.
The 2014 season marked Matt Kenseth’s sophomore season at Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth brought home 13 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes. Those ranked fifth and second respectively among all drivers. His 22 top-10 finishes tied for the second most in a single season during his Cup career. In 2014, Kenseth nabbed a thrilling win in the Budweiser Duel at Daytona, won two poles (Fontana and Texas 2), and won the final Nationwide Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That win was Matt's 60th NASCAR national touring series victory. Paired with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, the No. 20 Cup team also qualified for the reformatted Chase for the Sprint Cup (Matt's 10th in 11 seasons) and made it through to the Eliminator Round of competition, ultimately winding up seventh in the driver point standings. Kenseth will once again look to add to his win total in 2015.
Matt Kenseth Fast Facts
Date of Birth: March 10, 1972
Hometown: Cambridge, WI
Residence: Mooresville, NC
Marital Status: Married, Katie
Children: Ross, Kaylin, Grace & Clara
Sprint Cup Career Stats (entering 2015 season):
Driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry
Top 5s: 151
Top 10s: 270
- Finished seventh in championship points standings, marking the 11th season he has finished inside the top-10.
- Earned 13 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes. Those ranked fifth and second respectively among all drivers. The 22 top-10 finishes tied for the second most in a single season during his Cup career.
- Led all Toyota drivers in top-five and top-10 finishes, laps led (529), average finish (13.2), and total points earned (1,131 – does not include points resets).
- Won the Budweiser Duel at Daytona
- Earned two poles (Fontana and Texas 2)
- Won the final Nationwide Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That win was Matt's 60th NASCAR national touring series victory (31 in Cup; 29 in Nationwide).
- Matt’s career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series totals are now 31 wins, 151 top-fives, and 270 top-10 finishes — all rank fourth among active drivers.
- Finished second in series points, just 19 out of first in his debut with JGR
- Earned a series-high seven victories, including the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
- Four of Kenseth's seven wins came at tracks he had never won at previously in the Cup Series (Darlington, Kentucky, Chicago and New Hampshire)
- Won the pole three times (Kansas 1, Richmond 1 and Homestead)
- Qualified for the Chase for the ninth time in the format's 10 years of existence
- Had the series' best driver rating for 2013.
- Led the points for seven weeks, six of those during the Chase after starting as the top seed
- Earned a career-best laps led total of 1,783; more than his 2009-2012 seasons combined
- Earned 12 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes
- Recorded two Nationwide Series wins (Daytona 2 and Kansas 2)
- Finished seventh in series points
- Opened season winning his Gatorade Duel race and second Daytona 500 in four years
- Won pole at Daytona in July
- Career-best average start of 13.3
- Three wins for second consecutive season (Daytona, Talladega and Kansas)
- Earned 13 top five and 19 top-ten finishes
- Average finish of 11.1, which is his best since 2006
- 13 top-five finishes best since 2007
- Completed 99.3 percent of laps attempted and led for a total of 480 laps
- Snapped a 76-race winless streak with a victory at Texas in April
- Three victories for the season (Texas, Dover and Charlotte)
- Earned a total of three poles (career high total for a season)
- 12 top-five finishes
- 20 top-10 finishes
- Qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup finishing fourth in the points
- Earned a Nationwide Series win at Charlotte in his only start of the season
- Six top-five finishes
- 15 top-10 finishes
- Qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup finishing fifth in the points
- Made 400th career Sprint Cup series start at Homestead in November
- Finished runner-up twice for the season at both Atlanta (March) and Texas (November)
- Two wins (Daytona 500 and Fontana)
- Posted seven top five and 12 top-10 finishes
- Captured fourth career Cup pole in May at Darlington
- Won his 25th career Nationwide Race in May at Darlington
- Nine top-five finishes
- 20 top-10 finishes
- Qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup; one of only two drivers to do so each year of the format’s existence
- Made 300th career Sprint Cup series start at Phoenix in April
- Scored 24th career Nationwide victory at Atlanta in March
- Two wins (Fontana, Homestead)
- 13 top-five finishes
- 22 top-10 finishes
- Finished fourth in Cup championship point standings
- Led 912 laps, the third most in his career
- Became one of two drivers to qualify for the season-ending Chase in each of its first four seasons
- Two Nationwide Series wins (Fontana, Texas)
- Finished 10th in the Nationwide Series championship point standings, despite missing 11 events; his highest finish in the Nationwide Series since 1999
- Four wins (Fontana, Dover, Michigan, Bristol)
- Career best, 15 top-five finishes
- 21 top-10 finishes
- Career best, 9.8 average finish
- Career best, 14.6 average start
- Finished second in Sprint Cup championship point standings
- Led career high 1132 laps
- Won once (Daytona oval) and finished second in the IROC Series Championship
- Three Nationwide Series wins (Bristol, Phoenix, Homestead)
- Scored 18 top-10 finishes in 21 starts in the Nationwide Series
- One win (Bristol)
- Won two poles (Bristol, Kansas)
- 12 top-five finishes
- 17 top-10 finishes
- Finished seventh in Sprint Cup championship point standings
- One Nationwide Series win (Darlington)
- Scored 12 top-10 finishes in 15 starts in the Nationwide Series
- Two wins (Rockingham, Las Vegas)
- Eight top-five finishes
- 16 top-10 finishes
- Finished eighth in Sprint Cup championship point standings
- Won two of four IROC events and picked up IROC Series Championship
- Three Nationwide Series wins (Texas, Loudon, Atlanta)
- Scored 11 top-10 finishes in 16 starts in the Nationwide Series
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, the final champion of the “Winston era”
- One win (Las Vegas)
- 11 top-five finishes
- Career best, 25 top-10 finishes
- Two Nationwide Series wins (Fontana, Charlotte)
- Scored nine top-10 finishes in 14 starts in the Nationwide Series
- Five wins (Rockingham, Texas, Michigan, Richmond, Phoenix)
- Won one pole (Dover)
- 11 top-five finishes
- 19 top-10 finishes
- No.17 DEWALT crew won World Pit Crew Competition (2nd consecutive year)
- Finished eighth in Cup championship point standings
- Four top-five finishes
- Nine top-10 finishes
- No.17 DEWALT crew won World Pit Crew Competition
- Finished 13th in Cup championship point standings
- One Nationwide Series win (Bristol)
- Scored 14 top-10 finishes in 23 starts in the Nationwide Series
- Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year
- One win (Charlotte), 18th career start
- Four top-five finishes
- 11 top-10 finishes
- Finished 14th in Cup championship point standings
- Four Nationwide Series wins (Daytona, Fontana, Dover, Charlotte)
- Scored 17 top-10 finishes in 20 starts in the Nationwide Series
- Started five Cup races with Roush Racing and DEWALT
- Four Nationwide Series wins (Darlington, Nazareth, Fontana, Bristol)
- Two poles in Nationwide Series.
- Finished third in Nationwide Series championship point standings
- Partnered with DEWALT Industrial Tools in the Nationwide Series.
- Three Nationwide Series wins (Rockingham, Pikes Peak, Dover)
- Scored 17 top-five finishes and 23 top-10 finishes
- Made Cup Series debut at Dover and finished sixth
- Finished second in Nationwide Series championship point standings
- Joined Reiser Enterprises in April
- Two third-place finishes in the Nationwide Series (Dover, Fontana)
- Finished second in Nationwide Series (then Busch Series), Rookie of the Year race with only 21 starts
- Finished second in ASA Series points prior to moving to Reiser Enterprises
- Made Nationwide Series debut at Charlotte in May
- Finished third in the Hooters Pro Cup Series with one win