Matt and Ross Kenseth are learning from each other as careers progress

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Matt Kenseth is still learning.

After 32 wins and one Sprint Cup championship, the 43-year-old driver is learning from his son, 22-year-old Ross Kenseth, who will make his Xfinity Series debut this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I’ve been racing a really long time, but it’s true, you’re never to old to learn,” the elder Kenseth said in a teleconference Wednesday. “There are some things I’ve learned, some things that surprised me.”

Matt Kenseth was surprised by Ross when his son was about 15 years old and the two tested together for one of the first times.

“One of my best friends I grew up with was taking care of his car at the time … and we were standing there watching him,” Matt Kenseth recalled. “I was like ‘That thing is driving like it’s doing this and doing that, he should do this, he should do that.’ So then he came back in, and I went and drove it. Then I came back and said ‘Nevermind, everything he’s telling you is exactly right, just forget it.’ So I put my street clothes back on and didn’t drive it anymore.”

Matt Kenseth is beginning to learn that Ross needs less and less advice from his father. This was apparent as he watched his son win his first career ARCA race last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, driving for Ken Schrader.

“There was a lot of things I was thinking of to go help him with,” Kenseth said. “I was listening to him, what the car was doing, how it was. Only having a few laps on a track that big and that fast, I was pretty impressed by that. I realized he wasn’t going to need a lot of guidance from me last weekend.”

For Ross Kenseth, who started racing at the age of 5 in go-karts and snowmobiles, he’s learned from his father’s interactions with team members, especially after his move from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I think even when they struggled a little bit, how involved he was, how close they get with the guys, I feel like over the years he’s had a lot of support from his teams, a lot of people believe in him,” Ross Kenseth said, noting he’s also learned to have patience while in the cockpit. “Especially with these longer races, if you get behind early, you have plenty of time.  Make sure you keep your nose clean. It’s hard to get a good finish when you get something thrown up.”

Matt Kenseth is also learning what it’s like to watch a race from the pit box. That’s where he’ll be during Saturday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 as Ross pilots his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota.

“It will be weird to see somebody in there because I feel it’s my car,” Matt Kenseth said. “I haven’t been in the pit box very many times. Denny (Hamlin) has been out there a few times when he’s been hurt. Ross was up there last weekend during Michigan for a while.

“I kind of want to go up there and see kind of how (crew chief Michael Wheeler) and those guys go about it.”

Saturday’s race is Ross Kenseth’s only scheduled Xfinity Race so far, but he hopes he can just “be in the ballpark” with his competitors and it will lead to more rides in the future.

“Just be up to speed and be real competitive I think is what I was looking for going in,” Ross Kenseth said. “Hopefully if I can do my part and give good feedback to the guys, get the car better, we can be competitive, hopefully we can come out of there with a solid finish, whatever that may be.”

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

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The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but he fell short in making it to the championship round and defending last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. The team told NBC Sports it will not appeal the penalty.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.