After shaky start to weekend, Ross Kenseth has strong showing in Xfinity Series debut

Leave a comment

Ross Kenseth’s first career Xfinity Series weekend began with an out-of-control spin and ended with a confident driver and strong sixth-place finish.

For Ross, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Matt Kenseth, Sunday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 was his first opportunity to race in the Xfinity Series. It will be his only start this season for now unless enough eyes were opened at Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsors to bring the younger Kenseth back for additional races.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s had two strong showings in a row when you include last week’s ARCA victory at Michigan International Speedway.

Kenseth had a rough go of it in Friday practice, spinning in a single-car incident. To his credit, he was able to keep the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry off the wall and away from other cars, suffering just two flat tires as a result.

Saturday, Kenseth looked completely different. He likely would have earned the pole had it not been for a late burst by Austin Dillon who took it away from Kenseth by .012 of a second.

That built Kenseth’s confidence but he admits during the race, “I made a little too many mistakes . On a green flag stop, I lost a lot of time and a couple pit stops there I messed up getting into the box.”

But Kenseth kept digging and ultimately worked his way back up in the pack.

“Man, it’s frustrating sometimes,” Kenseth said. “I thought we had a real good car at the end. We needed a last caution to come out for us. (If that would have happened) I thought we could pick up some track position and get up to third or fourth.”

The weekend was a trial-and-error type of situation for Kenseth. If he made mistakes, he’d work at it until he corrected them.

It was the same in Sunday’s race, particularly on restarts. After some slow ones early on, he showed steady improvement as he went along.

“The first couple of restarts there, I just didn’t get it as good as I should have,” Kenseth said. “At the end there, I pretty much held it wide open for the first lap of a run there.

“Being a little bit more aggressive there at the end saved us a couple more spots. It took 100 hard laps after halfway to get the car dialed in and get me a lot more comfortable.”

There’s no guarantee Kenseth will get another Xfinity Series start in the remaining 19 races, but he’s hoping that may change for the better.

“For a one-off deal like this, I was happy,” Kenseth said. “Hopefully, we can do it again.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Richmond

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The racing weekend at Richmond International Raceway kicks off today.

The NASCAR Cup Series has one practice session and late afternoon qualifying, while the Xfinity Series has two practice sessions at the 0.75-mile track.

Keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson this weekend as he goes for his third consecutive NASCAR Cup win, having taken the checkered flag at Texas three weeks ago and Monday at Bristol.

Here’s how today’s action shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.  – Xfinity garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (Fox Sports 1, MRN)

1 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

4:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying; three rounds/multi-car (FS1, MRN)

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Michigan

Leave a comment

Every NASCAR Cup driver had to come from somewhere, and for Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones, they came from Michigan.

Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” takes you to the Great Lake State.

The track that gets our attention is Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run. A track Jones cut his teeth on and where he set a record in 2010 by becoming the youngest driver to win an ASA Late Model race when he was 14.

Oh, and they also race school buses at the track.

 

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Richmond ‘pivotal’ race for Joe Gibbs Racing

Leave a comment

Compared to the winning pace Joe Gibbs Racing kept the previous two seasons, it’s been a long time since the four-car team visited victory lane.

JGR last won 11 races ago in the November race at Texas Motor Speedway with Carl Edwards, who is not racing this year. The last win by a current JGR driver was the fall race at Richmond International Raceway, where Denny Hamlin triumphed.

Now, none of its drivers are in the top 10 in points.

RIR is where NASCAR heads this weekend for a race NASCAR America analyst Steve Letarte believes is “pivotal” for the team that’s won the last three races at the .75-mile track.

“We have to remember this is a new aerodynamic package for this year,” Letarte said. “There’s something about it that hasn’t really suited this JGR Toyotas. I don’t think they have found exactly the right combination, it seems Furniture Row (Racing) has. I look at Richmond, the speeds are a little bit down, aerodynamics won’t be as dominate. Even if they’re not dominate and they don’t win, they have to run better.”

 

NASCAR America: Comparing achievements of The King, The Intimidator and Jimmie Johnson

1 Comment

Just two days after his retirement announcement, Dale Earnhardt came to the defense of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson on Twitter

After a fan attempted to criticize Johnson’s achievements by comparing them to fellow seven-time champions Dale Earnahrdt Sr., and Richard Petty, Dale Jr. said the system Johnson has competed in is twice as challenging as the eras of his father and Petty.

Watch the video to see Dale Jr. and other drivers discuss the differences between Johnson’s era and those of his predecessors.