ThatsRacin

Upcoming races put Ross Kenseth’s mettle to the test

Inside Motorsports

Jim Utter

Over the next two weeks, Ross Kenseth will have the chance to compete at two high-speed tracks - this weekend in the Automobile Racing Club of America series race at Michigan and next weekend at Kentucky in an Xfinity Series race. In both events Ross will be driving top equipment.
Over the next two weeks, Ross Kenseth will have the chance to compete at two high-speed tracks - this weekend in the Automobile Racing Club of America series race at Michigan and next weekend at Kentucky in an Xfinity Series race. In both events Ross will be driving top equipment. Getty Images

My two cents

The next two weekends could go a long way in determining whether Ross Kenseth will make a career out of racing in NASCAR.

That’s a lot of pressure for the 22-year-old son of former Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth.

The opportunity, however, is one he has been working toward for a long time.

Over the next two weeks, Ross will have the chance to compete at two high-speed tracks: this weekend in the Automobile Racing Club of America series race at Michigan, and next weekend at Chicagoland in an Xfinity Series race.

In both events Ross will be driving top equipment. His ride this weekend is with Ken Schrader Racing. His Xfinity Series debut at Chicagoland will come in a Toyota prepared by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Over the last several years, Ross has distinguished himself as one of the country’s top short-track aces and has amassed some impressive credentials, including winning the Red, White and Blue state championship at Wisconsin International Raceway in 2011, and picking up victories in high-profile races in 2012 at Winchester, Ind., and Nashville, Tenn.

He’s also shown the ability to get more out of a finish than his equipment can likely provide. In his first ARCA race on a 1.5-mile speedway last season, Kenseth drove an underfunded ARCA team entry to a third-place finish at Kansas.

Having an opportunity to compete in top-notch equipment is the chance any aspiring racer welcomes, and the results that come with it can go a long way in showing both owners and potential sponsors a driver’s potential.

Friday marks Kenseth’s third career ARCA start after debuting in 2013 with Ken Schrader Racing at Madison, Wis., in a race where he won the pole and led 51 laps before finishing sixth.

“Ross did a good job for us the first time he was ever in an ARCA car at Madison and we feel he can do a good job for us this weekend, too,” Schrader said. “We’re confident he can go out and get the job done.”

In talking about his son’s Xfinity race opportunity with JGR earlier this season, Matt Kenseth said, “He’s never going to be more ready for the opportunity than he is now.”

We’re about to find out.

Notes

Kyle Busch is back: Yes, Kyle Busch returned from his injuries several weeks ago, but this Saturday’s race at Michigan marks Busch’s first race back in the Xfinity Series since he broke his right leg and left foot in an accident in the series season opener at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Fox Sports analyst and former crew chief Larry McReynolds thinks Busch’s return to the series will only help his efforts in the Cup series.

“I don’t challenge that one bit, especially with this new rules package. I’ve heard Kevin Harvick say several times that running the Xfinity races on Saturday, because of the rules being a little closer, mainly with the decreased horsepower, has helped him,” McReynolds said.

“So, maybe more seat time with this rules package will help him on Sunday.”

Crew chief swap: Michael Waltrip Racing this week announced a crew chief swap between its two full-time Cup series teams, effective with this weekend’s race at Michigan.

Brian Pattie, most recently crew chief for driver Clint Bowyer, will move to driver David Ragan’s No. 55 Toyota. Billy Scott, who was crew chief for Ragan, will assume the same position with Bowyer’s No. 15 team.

“We just felt it was time to shake things up a bit to try and spark fresh ideas and more consistent results,” said team co-owner Rob Kauffman. “There are 12 races left before the 2015 Chase field is set, and we plan to be a part of it.”

Brabham gets a test: Two-time Indy Lights Series champion Matt Brabham recently took part in a successful two-day test in a David Gilliland Racing Late Model car at Hickory Motor Speedway.

“It was certainly a new experience for me, to be honest it was actually eye-opening,” said Brabham, 21. “The team did its utmost to make sure I was comfortable in the car. It had a lot of power and was quite responsive.”

Matt’s father, Geoff, is a former two-time International Race of Champions winner at Michigan and a four-time IMSA Sportcar champion.

Cardinale inducted: Longtime Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway spokesman John Cardinale will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame later this month.

Cardinale, who passed away from gastric cancer in 2013, joined the raceway in 1998 and quickly established himself as one of the most respected representatives within the motorsports industry.

Next race

Quicken Loans 400

Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Jimmie Johnson

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