The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 13, 2013

Kenseth overcomes hurdles with JGR

(Continued)

DARLINGTON, S.C. —

Ratcliff helped formulate a plan headed into the weekend, one that Kenseth and Brown enacted to perfection.

Kenseth did not think the appeals result would’ve changed the approach or outcome at Darlington. “Jason would have been home either way. So I don’t think it would have made any difference,” he said.

Kenseth has made a difference since his Sprint Cup debut in 1998 when he filled in for Bill Elliott at Dover. The next season he began his distinguished career driving for Jack Roush with five races.

In 2000, Kenseth won the Coca-Cola 600, still the only rookie to win the circuit’s longest race.

Kenseth’s break-through year came in 2002 when he led Sprint Cup with five victories. He won his points championship in 2003 and was runner-up for the title three years later.

But after winning 15 times over seven seasons, he managed only eight victories in the past five years. Kenseth said he left Roush Fenway Racing for what he described as personal reasons. Last October, he tried to cover up tears when he drove to victory at Kansas for the final time at RFR. This past March, the laid-back Kenseth let his joy show at Las Vegas when he won for the first time with JGR.

He gained a second victory a month ago in Kansas before notching his series-best third win Saturday night at Darlington.

Kenseth was jovial while meeting with the media as the team owner, ex-NFL coach Joe Gibbs, sat in the back of the room smiling over the success of his newest driver. Kenseth says he has bonded quickly with Ratcliff and everyone involved with the No. 20 Toyota.

“I really feel like with this team, driving this car, I feel like the sky’s the limit,” Kenseth said.

J.D. Gibbs, JGR president, said Kenseth has brought leadership and experience to the team that teammates Busch and Denny Hamlin have appreciated.

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