Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – KANSAS CITY, KS – On Friday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Matt Kenseth’s much-ballyhooed return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing came to a grinding halt.
Kenseth’s No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford failed to make it through pre-qualifying inspection in time for the 46-year-old driver to make a qualifying attempt. That snafu sent Kenseth to the back of the field for Saturday night’s KC Masterpiece 400, where he’ll start 35th in a field of 38.
Before that, Kenseth’s comeback had gone swimmingly. There was a sense of closing the circle in a reunion with his old boss, Jack Roush, for whom Kenseth had won the last championship contested under the Winston Cup banner in 2003.
Kenseth’s ostensible role is to establish a baseline for the Roush Fenway cars of Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., which have been struggling with inconsistency for the past few years. Kenseth’s presence in the No. 6 car comes at Bayne’s expense, but the sport has welcomed the return of the 39-time Cup winner.
Those 39 victories, by the way, are fourth among active drivers behind Jimmie Johnson (83), Kyle Busch (46) and Kevin Harvick (41)—now that Kenseth is an active driver again.
But Friday’s inspection failure was the first real speed bump for the droll Wisconsinite. Kenseth is one of six drivers whose cars failed to make qualifying runs. Among them is Kansas native Clint Bowyer, who starts 33rd on Saturday.
“I guess Matt Kenseth’s big debut being in the 6 car, not getting out on the race track, probably isn’t very good either, but me being at home, that’s a pretty good story,” Bowyer said. “No, we’re stuck back there in jail. I don’t know. I have a pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off, because it’s frustrating.”
JUSTIN ALLGAIER GETS A TASTE OF INTERNATIONAL RACING
The first hints that NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier was off on an international adventure came on Friday in a pair of tweets.
“It’s been a crazy week here in Barcelona, Spain with the @Brandt_co team and customers,” posted Allgaier, who was off to a board meeting of the European arm of his primary sponsor, Brandt, and to Sunday’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
“Excited for Sunday to attend my first @f1 race @Circuitcat_eng (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya)… really looking forward to seeing the differences between #F1 and @NASCAR,” Allgaier posted in a second tweet.
The Spanish Grand Prix won’t be the last stop for Allgaier during an off week for the Xfinity Series. He’s already developed a fondness for Spain.
“Love it!!” Allgaier said via text on Sunday. “It’s been a blast so far. We have been only to Barcelona at the moment, but (will) travel to Sevilla and Madrid before we leave next Wednesday. It’s my first time to Spain, so it’s been fun.”
The Kansas Lottery has inked a multiyear deal to continue its sponsorship of the NASCAR Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, the track announced on Saturday morning. “I’m thrilled that we are able to continue our partnership with the Kansas Lottery,” said Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren. “They’ve been a great partner since Kansas Speedway opened, and to have their continued commitment to support racing in Kansas is huge.”…
Martin Truex Jr. entered Saturday night’s KC Masterpiece 400 seeking to extend his winning streak at the track to three races. Truex swept both events at the 1.5-mile track last season on the way to his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. “This track, for whatever reason, has been one that we’ve been really successful at over the years,” Truex said. “Not sure why, but it seems like I’m comfortable here, and I like the track. And for whatever reason, the way I like to drive my car around it usually produces some speed.”