Today marks a Father’s Day that may serve as one of the most memorable for Matt Kenseth and his son, Ross. After much success in Super Late Model racing and other divisions, Ross Kenseth made his NASCAR Xfinity debut at Chicagoland Speedway (IL) with dad Matt by his side.
“It’s really cool. You know, it’s one of those weekends that the Sprint Cup Series is off,” says Ross Kenseth, “Having my dad here is a big help for me. My dad has been a huge impact on my career. I have driven for him for many years and some of opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to get wouldn’t have been possible without him.”
While Ross is quick to thank his dad for all his support over the years, he also is thankful for the words of wisdom the veteran Sprint Cup driver has passed on over the years.
“I would say from day one he emphasized being a clean racer and if you couldn’t pass someone cleanly then you weren’t going to pass him. That and being patient probably had the biggest impact. It’s hard to win races when you tear up your stuff,” Ross told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Dad may have taught son a lot throughout the years as Ross climbed up the racing ladder, but there was also a learning curve for the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
“You know, for me, as a dad, I think you go through a little bit of a learning process. I felt like when Ross started driving Late Model cars, I’d go to the track with him a couple times, we tested together. It took me a few weeks to learn to actually close my mouth a little bit,” said Matt Kenseth.
“I probably gave him too much advice in the beginning. There are certain things I think you have to learn on your own until you go make a mistake or see something. Oh, now I see it. It’s hard to learn that sometimes just by talking. But on the other hand, I’ve always given Ross as much advice or as little advice as he wanted. I’m always there to answer any questions he has and help him, as much help as he wants.”
As Ross makes his way up the ranks of racing, from Super Late Model success to the NASCAR Xfinity Series it has been helpful to have his dad by his side.
“It’s been really enjoyable. He has been a huge help to me making a smooth transition to bigger tracks and different style cars because he has gone through the same things I’m going through in this stage of my career,” says Ross, “I feel like that is a big help in making the learning curve not quite as steep when getting in different stuff and being at new racetracks.”
For Matt, he says he’s learned things from Ross over the years, but the first thing he learned was that his son definitely knows his way around a racecar, and that makes him a proud father.
“I remember one of the first times we were at a track together, I was watching Ross drive. One of my best friends I grew up with was taking care of his cars at the time, Joe. We were standing there watching him. I was like, man, that thing drives like this, it’s doing this, doing that. He should do this, he should do that,” Matt explained.
“He came back in and I went and drove it. I came back in and said, ‘Nevermind, everything he’s telling you is exactly right. Just forget it. I put my street clothes back on and didn’t drive anymore. He really does know what he’s talking about. He was 15, 16 at the time. I remember that because I was thinking I was going to get in there and go a lot faster, he was telling them the wrong thing. He was spot on. That was the first thing I learned.”
Ross recently scored his first Stock Car win in an ARCA Racing Series event at Michigan International Speedway and followed that up with a sixth-place finish in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut on Sunday.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Director of Business – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Twitter- @RossKenseth