Kenseth Eyes Another Surprise

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CONCORD, N.C. - When the Winston Cup Series paid its first to Lowe's Motor Speedway this year, rookie Matt Kenseth shocked many in the NASCAR world by scoring his first victory in the Coca-Cola 600 -- the longest race on the schedule.

It was something that first-year drivers just aren't supposed to do.

Back at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, and armed with a decent seventh-place starting position, Kenseth will be looking to make it a sweep of both Cup races at LMS in 2000 when the green flag is thrown to the 43-car field today just after 1 p.m. (EST).

"I like to race at Charlotte because it's close to home and our shop," said Kenseth, who is coming off a win Saturday in the Busch Series event at LMS. "It's a fun track, and it's fun to go come back because we won the last race here in the spring. But the fall race seems to be very different. We have to race during the day when the track is more slippery and more moody during the afternoon. This race is going to require a good setup to handle the track conditions."

With a win already under his belt, Sunday's race will only be the 35th start of his brief Winston Cup career. And it's been a season where he and rookie Dale Earnhardt Jr. have positioned themselves in the Top 20 in the point standings. Earnhardt Jr. also picked up a win at Charlotte in May, but that was in The Winston all-star race, in addition to victories at Texas and Richmond.

But even with two wins compared to Kenseth's one, Earnhardt Jr. trails the No. 17 Ford by a 259-236 margin in the fight for the 2000 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Award.

While many of the drivers have been concerned about a lack of Goodyear tires for the 500-miler, Kenseth says he doesn't foresee a problem.

"There's somewhat of a concern with durability and how it's going to hold up," Kenseth said. "I guess we'll find that out together."

The problem with the tires, according to Goodyear and NASCAR officials, is that there was a production problem with the mounts for this weekend's Busch and Winston Cup races. In order to compensate for a lack of tires, Goodyear gave the Winston Cup teams the tires while the Busch Series used leftover tires on Saturday.

As far as his hopes of standing in victory lane at the end of Sunday's race, Kenseth said repeating his performance at LMS from May could be a tall order.

"Qualifying is usually our weak suit, but it was a good lap for us," Kenseth said of Wednesday night's qualifying runs. "I'm looking forward to this race. We're going to have our work cut out for us. We're going to work real hard on our setup so that hopefully we can run with them and be in a position to win this thing."

TV Blackout Lifted: Lowe's Motor Speedway officials have lifted the local blackout of WTBS' telecast of today's UAW-GM Quality 500 NASCAR Winston Cup event.

"Despite the fact that we are far from being sold out, the blackout was lifted at 11 a.m.," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We realize there is a segment of race fans who are physically or financially unable to be here with us and we wanted them to be able to enjoy all of today's action."

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