My Brain on NASCAR: Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me

Well, I really have to hand it to Matt Kenseth. After only 15 years of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, he has finally gotten my attention.

This is most assuredly not Kenseth’s fault; it’s mine. So low-key in personality that he almost seems to suffer from the previously undiagnosed condition “wake apnea,” Kenseth has just never been one of those guys that I gave much consideration to week to week.

Obviously my humble opinion didn’t affect his performance much; while I was busy ignoring him, Kenseth was busy winning the 2003 Cup Series championship and 22 races, including a couple of Daytona 500s.

When you do happen to think of Matt Kenseth, you think of words like “steady” and “consistent.” Kenseth won only one race in 2003, but his string of top 10 finishes – 25 in 36 races – won him the championship, despite the fact that Ryan Newman visited Victory Lane eight times that season.

Prevailing opinion was that the guy with the lion’s share of the wins should be the rightful champion. Imagine that. So although NASCAR would probably never admit it, the following season we were introduced to something called the Chase for the Sprint Cup, AKA the “Matt Kenseth Rule.” Seriously.

Kenseth has spent virtually his entire Cup Series career with Roush Fenway Racing. Imagining one without the other is kind of like the idea of “Two and Half Men” without Charlie Sheen – off-kilter, not very entertaining and more than a little awkward.

But that’s what we’re dealing with here. Roush Racing announced on June 26 that Kenseth will be leaving the team at the end of the 2012 season, to be replaced in the No. 17 Ford by reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Sheen moved on to a new hit show titled “Anger Management,” and in a way, that seems apropos of Kenseth. He may not have been angry per se, but surely one of NASCAR’s top performers must have grown weary of the constant fight to secure sponsorship.

Roush won’t openly admit that Matt, who is more of a family man than a pretty boy and doesn’t exactly sparkle with a camera in his face, was a challenge to sell. Instead, he blames our old friend the sponsorship struggle on the move.

“The determination and decision to run Matt and the 17 and carry on as usual was not dependent on any level of sponsorship,” he said. “If no sponsorship was there at all … we still would have run the 17 car for an indeterminate period of time,” he said.

“Matt is a champion, and certainly there has been interest … I guess I tend to differ that Matt has been a great challenge to sell sponsorship based on his image. I think the challenges we had were predicated and caused by the economy and the timing.”

In this deal, Kenseth wasn’t driven out; he was the driving force.

“Honestly, I had this other opportunity come up, and it really interested me. I’ve had other people call throughout my career with other opportunities, and I always stayed there at Roush,” he said. “This one was interesting. I felt at this point in my career and with the timing and the way everything was working, everything was kind of pointing me in that direction. I felt it was something I needed to do.

“Certainly at Roush Fenway, I walk in there, and I feel like it’s virtually mine because I’ve been there so long. I feel like I’m ingrained there deep, and I’m part of the organization. So it’s going to be really odd to not be part of that.”

That’s kind of an innocuous quote, but Kenseth’s destination is currently the worst-kept secret in NASCAR. Next year, we will most certainly see him behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing or, as Mr. “I hate any auto manufacturer without an American name” Roush referred to it, “the dark side.”

JGR driver Denny Hamlin said that Kenseth’s accomplishments speak for themselves. “If there was anyone I’d consider myself closest to as far as driving style, it’d probably be Matt. He brings so many assets to a race team. He’s going to be a valuable asset wherever he goes. Anyone would be lucky to have him.”

Hmmm.

Matt Kenseth is a mature grownup and father whose teammates will include Kyle “Rowdy” Busch and the aforementioned Denny “I Really Need a Cool Nickname” Hamlin. Both of those guys are known for what my grandmamma would have called a “smart mouth, and lo and behold, so is Kenseth. Will all the sarcasm in that bunch create a sarCHASM? That will be interesting to watch. We know it will be entertaining, to say the least.

At this point, it’s all speculation, really. We’ll just have to wait and see, because everybody’s talkin’, but nobody’s sayin’.

 

NASCAR columnist Cathy Elliott is also the author of the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR.” Visit her online at www.mybrainonnascar.com.

Comments

comments

NMB girls win region title; MB boys finish runner-up

NMB girls win region title; MB boys finish runner-upThe North Myrtle Beach High girls cross country team won [more]

Golf: CF, SJ qualify in 5A; MB, NMB finish 2-3 in 4A

Golf: CF, SJ qualify in 5A; MB, NMB finish 2-3 in 4AThe St. James girls golf team was runner-up at Monday's [more]

Volleyball: Chiefs, Panthers take broom to region rivals

Volleyball: Chiefs, Panthers take broom to region rivalsThe North Myrtle Beach volleyball team continued its unbeaten run [more]

CF's Runyon makes home run to coach alma mater

CF's Runyon makes home run to coach alma materFormer Carolina Forest High and University of Alabama softball standout [more]

Tennis: Seahawks start long week with win over Wilson

Tennis: Seahawks start long week with win over WilsonThe Myrtle Beach girls tennis team breezed through another region [more]

CCU baseball at Clemson, hosts UNCW in fall season

CCU baseball at Clemson, hosts UNCW in fall seasonWith fall practice in full swing, Coastal Carolina baseball head [more]

Coast FA boys teams earn Charleston Shootout titles

Coast FA boys teams earn Charleston Shootout titlesThree Coast FA boys select teams returned home with hardware [more]

Chants suffer Sun Belt loss to Warhawks on home turf

Chants suffer Sun Belt loss to Warhawks on home turfCoastal Carolina fell behind early and played from behind for [more]

Week 8 Roundup: Wilson wins 100th; Tigers prevail

Week 8 Roundup: Wilson wins 100th; Tigers prevailMyrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson's teams are known for [more]

Panthers stroll past Sharks, set up key 6-5A showdown

Panthers stroll past Sharks, set up key 6-5A showdownCarolina Forest is typically pretty reserved when it comes to [more]

No. 6 Chiefs bounce back in a big way to fly past Falcons

No. 6 Chiefs bounce back in a big way to fly past FalconsNorth Myrtle Beach bounced back from last week's loss in [more]

Knights roll past Braves in battle of haves, have-nots

Knights roll past Braves in battle of haves, have-notsThe haves and the have-nots became obvious in the first [more]

CF boys, NMB girls claim Horry County XC crowns

CF boys, NMB girls claim Horry County XC crownsThe North Myrtle Beach girls and the Carolina Forest boys [more]

Week 8 Previews & Picks: MB's Wilson goes for 100

Week 8 Previews & Picks: MB's Wilson goes for 100There has been some confusion over exactly when and where [more]

Football rivals team up to stay sharp, help neighbors

Football rivals team up to stay sharp, help neighborsFacing weeks of canceled practices and games, Mason Garcia knew [more]

Volleyball: Chiefs continue run through region lineup

Volleyball: Chiefs continue run through region lineupThe North Myrtle Beach volleyball team continued its unblemished region [more]

MB girls win region crown; four locals make all-region

MB girls win region crown; four locals make all-regionThe Myrtle Beach High girls golf team won the Region [more]

Knights knock off Sharks following monthlong wait

Knights knock off Sharks following monthlong wait The last time Tommy Norwood spoke after one of his [more]

Golf: Sharks top Panthers; Knaffle, Gray co-medalists

Golf: Sharks top Panthers; Knaffle, Gray co-medalistsThe three-time state champion St. James girls golf team captured [more]

Conway hires familiar face to lead Lady Tigers' hoops

Conway hires familiar face to lead Lady Tigers' hoopsConway High School has chosen a familiar face to direct [more]

BUFC hosts overcome lost time to shine at Shootout

BUFC hosts overcome lost time to shine at ShootoutDespite missing out on several practice sessions due to Hurricane [more]

Seahawks don't miss beat in shutout over Darlington

Seahawks don't miss beat in shutout over DarlingtonNo practices, no games, no problem. Playing for the first time [more]

Undefeated Panthers blast past Bruins in 6-5A debut

Undefeated Panthers blast past Bruins in 6-5A debutA month without football games didn’t slow down Carolina Forest. The [more]

No. 5 Chiefs tripped up by Tigers in season's first loss

No. 5 Chiefs tripped up by Tigers in season's first lossThe North Myrtle Beach High football team has been flirting [more]

Conway upends Socastee in final minute for first win

Conway upends Socastee in final minute for first winThe Conway High football team had to wait until October [more]

NMB girls win region title; MB boys finish runner-up

NMB girls win region title; MB boys finish runner-upThe North Myrtle Beach High girls cross country team won [more]

Golf: CF, SJ qualify in 5A; MB, NMB finish 2-3 in 4A

Golf: CF, SJ qualify in 5A; MB, NMB finish 2-3 in 4AThe St. James girls golf team was runner-up at Monday's [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach