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Drive Line ‘clinic’: Son of NASCAR star holds off Kelly

June 8, 2009
By RON DEUTER,Sports Writer

NORWAY - Ross Kenseth, 16-year old son to 2009 Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth, doesn't look too far ahead when it comes to stock car racing. He says his goal is to simply do the best he can every single week.

Sunday at Norway Speedway, he couldn't do much better.

Racing here for the first time, Kenseth led all but the first 23 laps and held off a challenge from hometown favorite Kris Kelly down the stretch to win the Drive Line 100.

"This track is unique," Kenseth said of Norway's 1/3 mile banked oval after the race. "We unloaded the car yesterday and I was so happy with it. I told the guys, don't touch it. They made a few little changes to fine-tune it, and the car was tons better. It was great on long runs and we had a lot of long runs today."

Norway native Kelly, who started ninth and made his pass for second on lap 56, finally caught up to Kenseth late in the race. Lap traffic and the race's only caution at lap 69 for a one-car spinout in turn three helped shorten the gap.

"That was our only shot, to get him bottled up in lap traffic," Kelly said of Kenseth. "Otherwise he was too strong."

Running nearly bumper-to-bumper for the final 10-15 laps, Kelly, racing the No. 77 Chevrolet Impala couldn't find enough to make a move on Kenseth, driving the No. 25 Ford Fusion.

"I guess I didn't have anything for the 25, because he put on a clinic today," Kelly said. "He schooled us. But to finish second here with all the fenders on us, we're happy."

"I was told (Kelly's) car was coming behind me," Kenseth said. "I knew he was really fast here and all the fans love him. I mean when they introduced him here they were just like going crazy for him.

"I knew I was going to have a challenge with him, but the guys gave me a great car today, and I knew I was going to have something for him at the end."

Rain cancelled the race on Saturday night, but nearly the entire field of almost two dozen cars was able to return to battle in the pay-per-lap event on Sunday. Conditions were cold and gray, but dry.

Kenseth, 11th in qualifying, needed just 23 laps to work his way to the front of the pack. Clearly behind the wheel of the quick car, Kenseth worked high and low to maneuver through the tight field.

Once up to the leader, Kenseth looked for several laps for a chance to duck underneath, but the opening wasn't there. So he opted for the high side and completed his pass for first on the frontstretch.

"The car was great, I couldn't be much happier," he said. "It was just really good. It turned really good and it saved the tires a lot. I was really pleased with it."

Kenseth mentioned he wouldn't mind returning to Norway in the future, if the opportunity presented itself.

"I hope so, if the race is there, yeah," he said. "It's a cool track and we run pretty well here."



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