Stinking Up The Show Sweet Smell For Kenseth Fans

Charlotte, NC (April 11, 2011) – In racer’s terms, Matt Kenseth ‘stunk up the show’ Saturday in the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

I’m totally cool with that.

It’s no secret that Kenseth is one of our favorite racers. As a college journalism school grad and longtime sportswriter, I’m not supposed to have favorites – reporting about an event and its personalities are supposed to be an objective exercise.

I guess I flunked that part of the course this past weekend – but that’s what happens when someone you’ve know, admired, worked with and fought for over the past 25 years has success.

Kenseth rolled to victory in Saturday’s race in dominating fashion leading 169 of the 334 laps. In a NASCAR world where races are won by nano-seconds, Kenseth captured the event by a whopping 8.315 seconds over Clint Bowyer.

Honestly, it wasn’t that close.

I’m pretty sure most everyone watching was certain of the outcome by the halfway point of the race. If Kenseth finished, he was going to win. His car, pit crew and race direction by fellow Wisconsinite Jimmy Fennig were flawless.

Exciting? Boring? That’s your call.

Not every NASCAR race is going to be a last-lap dash to the finish. I remember a time when races were routinely won by a lap or more, so this was close, darn close if Kenseth was your guy.

For us, Kenseth is that guy. My wife Gail and I first met Matt when he was 13. We were living in nearby Fort Atkinson, WI doing the PR and selling photos at Columbus 151 Speedway. Later, when Matt turned 16, we chronicle his first-ever laps in a racecar at Columbus.

It was easy to see he was special from the first lap. He proved it three weeks later winning his first race at 151.

Impressed, I wrote a column about Matt for Midwest Racing News, a longtime Wisconsin racing trade staple that I was fortunate to be writing for at the time.

In it, I told readers that Kenseth was the best natural talent I had seen since another teenager named Mark Martin had come to Wisconsin to learn how to race. I was bold enough to write that perhaps one day, we’d see Kenseth and Martin together in Cup.

Who knew that it would be Martin who would champion Kenseth to the big leagues – or that the column would be placed next to Matt’s first-ever driver’s uniform at his museum in Cambridge, WI?

That said, the Close household has taken great pride in Matt’s accomplishments over the years. His now long NASCAR career has been highlighted by 19 Cup victories and a championship in 2003.

Most of all, we’re especially happy that Matt has stayed grounded. In a era where drivers are doing all kinds of crazy things to get noticed, Kenseth has always retained a low profile keeping himself, family and his personal life out of the spotlight.

There’s a lot to be said for that. Not everything has to be on TV or today, the Internet.

Kenseth’s win Saturday at Texas won’t go down as one of the most exciting of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, but to those like us who are fans of ‘Matt the Brat,’ it will definitely go down as one of the ‘best smelling’ races of the year.

To see a photo gallery of Matt Kenseth’s museum that includes images of his first car along with winning Cup, Nationwide and IROC cars, please click on the following Close Finishes Photo Gallery link –

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