At 50 years old, Matt Kenseth has this physical status:
Matthew Roy Kenseth (born March 10, 1972) is an American former professional stock car racing driver.
He last competed part-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 6 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing.
He had stepped away from full-time racing after the 2017 season after a career racing for Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth started racing on several short tracks in Wisconsin and won track championships at Madison International Speedway, Slinger Super Speedway and Wisconsin International Raceway.
He moved to the ARTGO, American Speed Association, and Hooters Late Model touring series before getting a full-time ride in the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) for his former Wisconsin short track rival Robbie Reiser, finishing second and third in the standings. Kenseth moved up in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series).
He won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 2000 and the championship in 2003.
The International Race of Champions invited Kenseth to race in their 2004 season as the reigning champion and he won the season championship.
In 2009, he won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 and repeated as Daytona 500 winner in 2012.
He is the father of Ross Kenseth.
Early life and career
Kenseth was born in Cambridge, Wisconsin. He made an agreement with his father, Roy, that Roy should buy a car and race, and Matt would work on the car until he was old enough to race. Kenseth began stock car racing in 1988 at the age of 16 at Madison International Speedway. "My dad bought a car when I was 13 and raced it at Madison," Kenseth said. "Neither of us knew much and it was a learning experience," He continued to race in 1988 and 1989. "My first car – what might be considered a sportsman – was a 1981 Camaro that Todd Kropf had driven to championships at Madison and Columbus 151 Speedway. On the third night out I won a feature. I ran 15 features in 1983 and won two of them." "The first night out in the Kropf car Matt won a heat race," said Kenseth's father Roy. "The third night he won the feature by holding off two of the best drivers at the track, Pete Moore and Dave Phillips, for 20 laps. Matt was smooth. I knew then he was going to be a racer." He ran for the points title on Saturday nights at Wisconsin Dells in 1989. He finished second in points and won eight features. On Friday nights, he ran about half of the races at Golden Sands Speedway and half at Columbus 151 Speedway. In 1990, he bought a late model from Rich Bickle. In the season-opening race at Slinger Super Speedway, Kenseth inherited the lead and won his only race of the season when track champion Tony Strupp had a flat tire. He finished sixth in season points and won the track's rookie of the year award. Kenseth entered fifteen ARTGO events that season and raced in 40 features that year. After graduating from Cambridge High School that summer, Kenseth worked for four years selling and shipping parts for Left-hander Chassis, a late model racecar chassis manufacturer just south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border. In 1991 he won the ARTGO race at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway to become the youngest winner in the series' history. He passed Joe Shear and Steve Holzhausen, and held off Steve and Tom Carlson for the win. 1992 was a difficult year for Kenseth. He won three races and blew up more engines than he could count. He was ready to quit racing after the season. "I felt we were at a standstill,” he said. "I wasn't gaining. My dad and I had some major discussions at the end of the year. We had to find the dollars for a good program or I told him I would rather not race." Kipley Performance loaned a motor to Kenseth for the season-final race at La Crosse and the team ran better. Kenseth built a new car for 1993 using a Kipley engine. He used the car at Madison to win eight features and finished second in the points. Mike Butz offered Kenseth the chance to race his late model, and it took some time for the combination to stop struggling before they started winning features. At the end of the season, they won the final short track series race at Madison, La Crosse, and I-70 Speedway. He finished third in the points Butz's car at Wisconsin International Raceway.
The 1994 and 1995 seasons established Kenseth as a short track star. Kenseth made a name for himself while driving at several Wisconsin tracks, beating nationally known drivers such as Dick Trickle and Robbie Reiser. He raced 60 times in three different cars in 1994, winning track championships at both Wisconsin International Raceway (WIR) on Thursday nights and Madison on Friday nights. Kenseth competed against Reiser at Madison, and won 12 of 17 features at the track. He won the 1994 Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway. In 1995, he repeated with back-to-back championships at WIR and Runner-Up at Madison, plus he won the Red, White, and Blue state championship series at WIR on three Saturday nights. Butz's wife Patty Butz said "We knew by 1995 that Matt had too much talent to be with us for very long."
Kenseth decided to move across the country in 1996 to the Southern United States to race for engine builder Carl Wegner in the Hooters Series Late Model championship. The plan was to run the Hooters Series, five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, and five Busch Series before moving full-time into the Busch Series in 1997. He finished third in the Hooters Series, nearly winning the series championship as a rookie. In 1996, Kenseth made his Busch Series debut at the spring race at Lowe's Motor Speedway for Wegner, finishing 22nd after starting 30th in a car rented from Bobby Dotter. Kenseth was disappointed because they were unable to attract major sponsorship. "It was just like 1992,” Kenseth said. "Plans just didn't work. I thought things would be different. Personally, I had moved and was adjusting to being a thousand miles from home." At the end of the season, the Wegner/Kenseth team closed, and Kenseth found a ride for Gerry Gunderman's American Speed Association team, who was also Alan Kulwicki's last shop in Wisconsin before moving to NASCAR. The team raced together for two races in 1997 before Kenseth received a telephone call from a former competitor.
Kenseth is the son of Roy and Nicola Sue Kenseth. The name Kenseth goes back to the 1850s when his ancestors came to Wisconsin. Tosten Eriksen Kjenset-Ødegard came over from County Oppland in Norway and settled in Deerfield, Wisconsin.
In 2000, Kenseth married Katie Martin, also from Cambridge. Kenseth has a son, Ross Kenseth, from a previous relationship. Matt and Katie have four daughters: Kaylin Nicola, born on July 6, 2009, two days after Kenseth finished eighth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona; Grace Katherine, born on February 22, 2011, two days after the Daytona 500; Clara Mae, born on March 25, 2014, two days after the Auto Club 400; and Mallory Karen, born on December 20, 2017. Like his father, Ross also raced, driving in legends cars and late models in Wisconsin. Ross would later compete in ARCA and NASCAR. On July 15, 2018, Kenseth became a grandfather when Ross' wife Amber gave birth to a girl, Lexi. On April 8, 2021, Kenseth's grandson, Colt Matthew was born.
Kenseth ran the 2022 Boston Marathon and finished 3,576th overall and 141st in the Men's 50-54 division, with a time of 3:01:40.
Kenseth is a fan of the metal band Metallica, and named his cat after drummer Lars Ulrich. He is also a fan of the Green Bay Packers.
Motorsports career results
(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
* Season still in progress.1 Ineligible for series championship points.
(key) (Bold – Pole position. * – Most laps led.)
(key) * – Most laps led. 1 – Heat 1 winner. 2 – Heat 2 winner.