Kenseth Wins Late Model Opener

OREGON, Wis. - Matt Kenseth made a one race visit to the American Speed Association Late Model Series, but he made the most of it. By winning both the pole and race for the first-ever ASA Late Model Series event, the Blaine’s Farm & Fleet/Carhartt 100, Kenseth etched his name in the history books. The event was held at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis., before a near-capacity crowd.

“I always wanted to go in ASA’s history books somewhere,” Kenseth claimed. “I’ve never been able to win an ASA touring series race before, so that’s pretty cool. I’ve ran in a few of them, but never been able to pull one off so it’s cool to win one of these Late Model races.” A former ASA National Tour competitor, Kenseth has made 16 career starts in ASA competition between 1994 and 1997.

The win didn’t come easily as Kenseth and second place finisher Ron Breese battled side-by-side for nearly a dozen laps prior to the race being called prematurely due to rain. Breese led for 49 consecutive laps with Kenseth stalking him, patiently waiting for an opening. As the pair circled together, Kenseth could get through the turns better to close the gap, and then Breese would get a slight edge down the straightaways. The action kept the crowd on their feet, and Kenseth finally made the pass stick on lap 67.

“You don’t get racing like that very often,” Breese said after the race. “We came in second, but I tell you what, this was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We took second to the Winston Cup champion, but I would have liked to have won.”

Kenseth echoed the feelings about what it was like in the cockpit. “It was fun. We might have had a little different gear because I could get him off the corner then on the straightaway he pulled me back. It was a great race and we were both getting through the corners good and putting on a good show.”

Third place finisher Todd Kluever got a good view of the action, and may have been waiting for Kenseth and Breese to take each other out.

“I just needed a little bit of an opening,” Kluever said. “We were getting better, or they were slowing down there and I really think we had something. I just wanted to let them two play it out. I was pretty sure they were going to give me an opening.”

Kenseth won the pole earlier in the afternoon with a lap of 18.116-seconds around the 0.50-mile oval. Ultimately, he started the event in seventh position due to the inverted start.

Unfortunately, the scheduled 100-lap event was red flagged for weather on lap 75. The sky lit up nearly all evening with lightening, and once the rain started to fall the track quickly went away.

In ASA Late Model Series competition, caution flag laps don’t count towards the total, fortunately for the fans as the yellow flag flew a total of 16 times. There were four lead changes among three drivers. Of the 32 cars starting the race, 17 finished on the lead lap.

The top 10 finishers in the event were Kenseth, Breese, Kluever, Bobby Wildberg, Bobby Stremme, Dave Lawrence, Adam Shackelford, Brad Osborn, Jeff Watters and Doug Mahlik. Travis Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion, retired early with ignition problems.

The ASA Late Model Series is next in action at Baer Field Speedway in Ft. Wayne, Ind., on Sunday, May 16.

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Friday, October 04, 2013

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