In conjunction with NASCAR’s 75th anniversary, 25 drivers are being added to the list of 50 greatest selected 25 years ago.
Kenseth, 51, of Cambridge is the most successful driver to come out of Wisconsin, having spent most of 24 years driving stock cars at the highest levels. He won a championship and 39 Cup Series races, including two Daytona 500s, as well as another 29 races in NASCAR’s second division now known as the Xfinity Series.
The group of drivers being added to the list, selected by an independent panel, include such Kenseth contemporaries as Kurt and Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and such younger stars such as Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.
“As you get older things like that are really cool,” Kenseth once said of honors like these. “But I never really raced for that kind of stuff. I always raced for that day and to try to win and try to beat the best and do the best you can.”
Kenseth thought he was stepping away from NASCAR at the end of 2017 but then filled in to help Jack Roush, the team owner who gave him his first fulltime Cup ride, in 2018 and then Chip Ganassi when Ganassi needed to someone to take the place of suspended Kyle Larson in 2020.
The breaks from regular driving gave him opportunities to compete in marathons, among other pursuits, and he challenged himself with a weekend as an analyst for NASCAR races on Fox. He was behind the wheel of a super late model for races in his home state as well as with the Superstar Racing Experience.
Kenseth is the second driver from Wisconsin on the list of greatest drivers, following 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki, who was part of the original 50. Kulwicki left Greenfield with no promises, built his own team out of necessity and won five races and the title before he was killed in a plane crash in 1993. He also became a NASCAR Hall of Fame member.