Sunday, July 12, 2015

1994 - Kenseth, ‘perfect car’ prevail

Matt Kenseth
Oregon, Wis. (July 12, 1994) – The nickname “Matt the Brat” has stuck with Matt Kenseth for years.
After Tuesday night, it’s probably safe to say it will stick around awhile longer.

And Rich Bickle Jr. likely thought up a few more choice names for the 22-year-old Cambridge driver after a late-race incident between the two provided a dramatic and controversial conclusion to the Miller Genuine Draft Nationals at Madison International Speedway.

Following the 250-lap feature, Bickle was fuming about what happened on lap 236 as he attempted to pass inside Kenseth in turns three and four.

Bickle, an Edgerton native who now lives in Concord, N.C., and races regularly on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, and Kenseth made contact, sending Bickle to the infield grass in turn four and knocking him out of contention for his second Miller Nationals title.

“I had him beat and he knew I had him beat,” said Bickle. “He wrecked us. That’s all there is to it…He drove over the right front and tried to run me down into the grass.”

“I should have just taken him out instead of trying to be a nice guy. Nice guys finish last. It shows again.”

Kenseth, meanwhile, said he wasn’t sure exactly what happened.

“I don't know if he got (in the corner) too hard or if I came down,” said Kenseth, who enjoyed an $8,000 payday with his winning point total of 6,975. “I don’t know. We just got together real hard and I saved it. I’m just happy we won.”

“This is the biggest win of my career,” he said. “I’m real happy for Nielsen Racing. He (Fred Nielsen) really wanted to repeat.”

Ironically, the car Kenseth drove is owned by Nielsen, the same man who fielded Joe Shear’s winning entry for the 1993 Miller Nationals.

Early in Tuesday’s race it appeared Shear (who now runs his own team) might have a strong enough car to make it two in a row. Shear led the first 29 laps before Kenseth took over on lap 30 and made it look relatively easy the rest of the way.

“Talk about a perfect race car,” said Kenseth, the late model point’s leader at MIS this season. “They’re pretty easy to drive when they run like this.”

Except for the incident with Bickle, Kenseth had only one other close call. He hit some oil in turn two of lap 165 and nearly hit the wall.

“I happened to hit that oil just right with the left front tire,” he said. “The car shot straight toward the fence and I thought we were done right there.”

Butch Miller, the current ASA point’s leader, finished 1.76 seconds back to place fifth overall (3,980 points). Winston Cup regular Ken Schrader was third in the race and second overall (4,935) and Scott Hansen, the first-round leader, finished third overall (4,275) and seventh Tuesday night.

Miller, though, could never make a solid run at Kenseth. “We ran a really, really good race,” said Miller. “We had a really strong car, but we didn't have anything for Matt.”

“Matt not only had a good car, but he knew how to drive it. The guy has really come a long way.”

Miller said Kenseth has a bright future as a driver. “He’s a lot smarter than the first time I saw him race,” Miller added.

Bickle started 21st and gradually worked his way to the front. He was helped by a yellow flag with 20 laps remaining when Robbie Reiser’s car developed ignition problems.

But after his spinout on lap 236, all Bickle could hope for was a top-five finish. He wound up fourth overall (4,175 points) after finishing sixth Tuesday night.

In other action, Al Schill won the 10-lap semi-feature, Hansen took the 10-lap dash between NASCAR and Midwest drivers and Lowell Bennett and Jay Sauter were 1-2 in the last-chance race to advance to the feature.


Results –

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Butch Miller
  3. Ken Schrader
  4. Bryan Reffner
  5. Joe  Shear
  6. Rich Bickle
  7. Scott Hansen
  8. Jason Schuler
  9. Brian Hoppe
  10. Rich Lory
  11. Ron Breese Jr.
  12. Tim Sauter
  13. Lowell Bennett
  14. Robbie Reiser
  15. Jay Sauter
  16. Doug Herbst
  17. Scott Wimmer
  18. Jim Weber
  19. John Olson
  20. Mark DiMaggio
  21. Conrad Morgan
  22. Dick Trickle
  23. Ken Lund
  24. Stan Fox

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