At the same time current NASCAR Cup Series stars Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney were making a name for themselves in the short track ranks in the Southeast, Ross Kenseth was doing the same in the Midwest. By the time Elliott and Blaney had made it to the Cup Series for their rookie years, however, Kenseth was all but out of the sport, having competed in his final career race with the NASCAR Xfinity Series atPhoenix Raceway.
The son of 2003 NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth, Ross has the career accolades that rivals any top short track racer. He won two of Super Late Model racing’s biggest events, the All American 400 and the Winchester 400, in one week in 2012. He also won the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway earlier that season.
His last win to date was in the ARCA Menards Series Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway for Ken Schrader Racing in 2015. He added wins with the ARCA Midwest Tour, ARCA/CRA Super Series, PASS and the Big 8 Series, where he also earned a series championship in 2009. In his final year of racing, he made his Xfinity Series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing, where he finished sixth at Chicagoland Speedway after starting on the outside front row.
Several things have happened in Kenseth’s life since the last time he climbed behind the wheel for a test in 2016. He has since graduated college and moved into a career in accounting with a commercial real estate company down in Miramar Beach, FL, where he lives with his wife and daughter. After spending several years inracing, he admitted being away from the sport was something he had to get used to.
“It’s kind of been weird, racing’s been my whole life since I was five years old,” Kenseth told Speed51.com. “Once I got married and we moved down here and we’ve had our first kid, life comes at you pretty fast and we’re not around it very much anymore. Next thing you know, it’s been four years since you’ve been in a race car. I miss the team aspect and being around people you know and working towards a common goal like that. At the same time, when you kind of insulate from it, stuff goes by and you don’t realize it’s been four years since you’ve been behind the wheel.”
With many memories having been made during his time as a race car driver, he hasa hard time picking out just one that sticks out. From winning two Crown Jewels in one week’s time to scoring a top-five finish for an underfunded ARCA team, he’s thankful for what he was able to accomplish during his career.
“There’s been quite a few. It was really cool to win Nashville and the Winchester 400 in back-to-back weeks. That was a chaotic and pretty exciting seven-day period for us, winning two staple events,” he said. “Beyond that, when we went to Kansas and ran third in the ARCA race out there. That was a pretty big deal for the guys we ran for, I think it was the first time they ran in the top ten for a couple years and that was a pretty big event. It was cool to see how excited they were andhow everyone was excited around that. Another one would be the Xfinity race I ran for JGR, qualified second and contended for a top-five all day and finished sixth.”
While he enjoyed his time as a driver, Kenseth has no plans to ever get back behind the wheel. He knew it was time to move on with life after that final season in 2015, and he is now comfortable with where he currently sits.
“I think once I got to a point in my career where I had to make a decision with what I was going to do professionally to pay the bills. I always wanted racing to be that and once it got to the point where that wasn’t really the case, I moved on,” he stated. “I’ve got a family now and a job that I love to go to every day.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51