ABOUT MATT

Date of Birth: March 10, 1972

Hometown: Cambridge, WI

Resides: Mooresville, NC

Spouse: Katie

Children: Ross, Kaylin, Grace, Clara, Mallory 

 

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Career Stats :

Starts: 665     Wins: 39     Top 5s: 181     Top 10s: 329     Poles: 20

Matt Kenseth’s victory in the 2012 Daytona 500 placed him into an exclusive group of only 11 drivers in the history of NASCAR who have won the famed race more than once.  When Kenseth earned his first Daytona 500 in 2009, the Cambridge, Wisconsin native became one of only six drivers in the sport’s history to win a Cup Championship, the Sunoco Rookie Award and the Daytona 500; placing him in the elite company of Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, David Pearson and Richard Petty.

 

Over the course of his 20-year Cup Series career, Kenseth racked up 39 victories at 19 different tracks and took the top honor in 2003 as the last Winston Cup Series Champion. Kenseth also boasts an International Race of Champions (IROC) title in 2004, and qualified for the Playoffs in 13 of 14 seasons. Kenseth’s 39 Cup Series victories ranked 19th all-time entering 2018. He also recorded 20 pole positions, 181 top-five finishes and 327 top-10 finishes in 650 starts or more than 50 percent of his total Cup starts. 

 

Kenseth has also collected 29 wins in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series with his last victory coming in the series’ at the season-finale event at Homestead in 2014. Kenseth has earned 139 top-five finishes, 202 top-ten finishes, and 17 poles in his 288 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, Wisc., 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 races and track titles at venues all across Wisconsin, becoming the youngest driver to ever win the prestigious Miller Genuine Draft National championships in 1994.

Following another Wisconsin track title in 1995, successful runs in NASCAR All Pro Series (1995), the Hooters Series (1996) and the ASA Series (1997), Kenseth got a fateful call in 1997 from a 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 in 21 starts 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, Kenseth 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 berth 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).

Kenseth 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 in a victory in the season finale at Homestead. 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 Kenseth 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. He won his 25th Nationwide race at Darlington that same weekend and earned Nationwide poles at Richmond and Texas. 

The 2010 season began with a new primary sponsorship from Crown Royal for Kenseth on the No. 17 Ford.  Kenseth and his team were eager to turn their results around 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 into the fold.  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 ten in five of his final eight starts of 2010.  Kenseth 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 as the pair was eager to pick up where they left off at the end of 2010.  Kenseth earned the pole at Last Vegas at the start of the season, and 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 as a team to be reckoned with after the No. 17 team dominated Daytona Speedweeks events by winning both their Gatorade Duel race as well as earning Kenseth 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 and finished up the season earning 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 of 11.1, which was his best finish average since 2006.  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).  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 Kenseth’s sophomore season at Joe Gibbs Racing.  Paired with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, the No. 20 team qualified for the 2014 reformatted Chase for the Sprint Cup and made it through to the Eliminator Round of competition, ultimately winding up seventh in the driver point standings.  In 2014, Kenseth’s top finish was second which he achieved twice (Atlanta and Talladega 2) and he earned two pole awards as well (Fontana and Texas 2).  The driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry earned 13 top five and 22 top-ten finishes.

 

2015 marked Kenseth’s third season behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing.  Once again paired with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, the No. 20 team qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but was eliminated following the Contender Round of competition.  In 2015, Kenseth earned a career-high four pole awards and captured five wins, 12 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes as he also set two track records for the greatest margin of victory (Pocono 2 & New Hampshire 2).

 

Kenseth surged at the right time in 2016. He won two races in the summer (Dover 1 and Loudon 1) and was positioned fourth after the points reset entering the playoffs. Five straight top-10 finishes earned Kenseth a share of the points lead after rounds 1 and 2. Kenseth and the No. 20 Toyota team needed a win at the penultimate race in Phoenix to transfer to the final round and was leading the event as the race entered overtime, but was wrecked out coming to the white flag. He finished fifth in the championship point standings and his 9.6 average starting position was the second best of his career. 

A tumultuous final season at Joe Gibbs Racing ended on a high note, as Kenseth drove the No. 20 Toyota to a win in the same race at Phoenix that eliminated him from championship contention just one year earlier. Kenseth made the postseason for the 13th time in 14 seasons before being eliminated at Kansas, at the end of round 2. During the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in November, Kenseth made it known in an interview with NBC Sports, that he had no plans to race in 2018. He went out a week later and scored his 39th career Cup Series win. 

Kenseth started 2018 with no plans to go compete in NASCAR. But, that all changed when car owner Jack Roush called to ask Kenseth to return to Roush Fenway Racing to help improve the performance of a once proud team where he was once an integral part of that success. Kenseth drove the No. 6 Ford Fusion for 15 points races and the NASCAR All-Star Race, where he won the pole. Though slower than perhaps Kenseth and Roush wanted, progress was made, and Kenseth closed out the season, and presumably his Cup Series career with a seventh and sixth-place finish at Phoenix and Homestead respectively. 

Nearly 18 months had passed since Kenseth competed in the NASCAR Cup Series when Chip Ganassi Racing tapped him to become the new driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet after four races were complete in the 2020 season. Kenseth will take over driving duties and be eligible for the driver points championship when the NASCAR season resumes following the two-month hiatus due the Coronavirus pandemic. 

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2018

  • Returned to Roush Fenway Racing in May to run a part-time schedule, sharing the No. 6 Ford Fusion with Trevor Bayne. Kenseth's first race back was in May at Kansas Speedway. He ran a total of 15 points races and the 2018 All-Star Race.

  • Won the pole for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

  • Won segment two after leading laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard 400. 

  • Finished the season, and presumably his NASCAR Cup career, with a seventh-place finish at Phoenix followed by a sixth-place finish at Homestead--bookending his Cup career with sixth-place finishes. 

2017

  • Finished seventh in the driver championship point standings, notching a top-10 finish in the points for the 13th season. 

  • Scored one win, 10 top-five, 18 top-10 finishes and two poles. 

  • Won both poles at Richmond.   

  • Recorded an average starting position of 10.4 and an average finish of 14.2.

  • Led 62 laps en route to the season’s only victory at Phoenix. 

 

2016

  • Finished fifth in the driver point standings, the seventh time in his career with a top-five finish in points. 

  • Scored victories at Dover in June and Loudon in July. 

  • Led the point standings twice during the Playoffs. 

  • Qualified for the 12th post season in 13 years.

  • Notched eight top-five, 19 top-10 finishes and one pole (Kansas 2). 

  • Average start of 9.6 was the second best of his career. Average finish was 13.8. 

 

2015

  • Finished 15th in the driver point standings after missing two races during the season

  • Third career season in the Sprint Cup Series where Kenseth earned more than five wins (2002, 2013, and 2015)

  • Kenseth earned five wins in 2015 including his first career victory at Pocono Raceway

  • Kenseth earned four pole awards and went on to win twice from the pole (Bristol 1 and Michigan 2)

  • Earned 12 top-five and 20 top-ten finishes

  • Set two track records for greatest margin of victory (Pocono 2 and New Hampshire 2)

  • Earned his 11th career berth into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

  • Had an average start of 11.5 and an average finish of 14.3 for the season

 

2014

  • Finished seventh in series points in his sophomore season with JGR

  • Earned his tenth career berth into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

  • Best finish of the season was second which he achieved at Atlanta and Talladega 2

  • Kenseth earned two pole awards in 2014 at Fontana and Texas 2

  • Earned 13 top-five and 22 top-ten finishes

  • Had an average start of 14.0 and an average finish of 13.2 for the season

 

2013

  • Finished second in series points, just 19 points out of first in his debut season 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 Chase’s 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-ten finishes

 

2012 

  • 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

 

2011

  • 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

 

2010

  • 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)

 

2009

  • 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

 

2008

  • 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

 

2007

  • 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


2006

  • 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


2005

  • 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


2004

  • 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


2003

  • 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


2002

  • 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


2001

  • 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


2000

  • 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


1999

  • 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.


1998

  • 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


1997

  • 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


1996

  • Made Nationwide Series debut at Charlotte in May

  • Finished third in the Hooters Pro Cup Series with one win 

All Contents © copyright Matt Kenseth, 2018 All rights reserved