You fans who’ve been around a while remember the image created of Matt Kenseth. This old commercial says it all. This oldie but goodie we’re told is actually closer to the truth. In celebrating what may be his final NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series win, the 2003 champion let it all hang out, with tears of joy.
Let it out, Matt Kenseth, let it out. No one will blame you for showing a little emotion. Sadly, racing careers end more often the way Kenseth’s is, than it does for racers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Tony Stewart. It’s kind of like what a former baseball star said, “I didn’t make the decision to retire on my own. 30 teams helped me.” As a result, Matt Kenseth doesn’t get the rocking chairs, the career tributes or some other pomp and ceremony that others of similar stature get. So if you steal the show, sir, no one will blame you.
Sports- and NASCAR is no different- is a study in human character. Try as we may to pigeon hole competitors into convenient boxes, we are reminded there’s good and bad in all of them. Sometimes what we see in competition is far different when competitor is away from the track. Think Dale Earnhardt’s lucky penny story for reference. Check out his Twitter account. Matt Kenseth is a funny guy.
We also tend at times to equate humility with an underachiever who won’t compete hard for a win. In the case of Matt Kenseth, 69 wins in NASCAR’s national touring series says otherwise. The kerfuffle with Joey Logano a couple of seasons ago says otherwise. Remember- they once called him “Matt The Brat.”
I remember an old race track announcer from the midwest telling me that in the early days of Kenseth’s racing career, he was well known for his subtle muscle tactics. The comment maker told me the thing with Matt Kenseth is that his version of the “bump and run” was more like the “touch and excuse me.” Classic.
Perhaps because of his understated style and dry sense of humor, we will never fully appreciate Matt Kenseth as one of NASCAR’s greats. Fortunately for him, the stats don’t lie. He’s a winner.