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.”