NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points leader Matt Kenseth will mark the milestone of his 500th-career Sprint Cup start on Sunday when he takes the green flag for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
“All this really means is that I’m old,” Kenseth said. “I’m proud having 500 starts. I remember making my first one, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to even be able to make a second one. It’s a really tough business, so I feel very fortunate to have been with such great people, and to have driven such great cars and had fantastic sponsors throughout my career to be able to still be in this sport and competitive after this many seasons.”
Kenseth’s Cup career got its start in 1998 as a fill-in for Bill Elliott at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. As Elliott attended his father’s funeral, Kenseth drove Elliott’s car to a sixth-place finish in his series debut.
After a couple of years in the Busch (now-Nationwide) Series, Kenseth made the move to full-time Winston (now-Sprint) Cup racing in 2000 to drive the No. 17 for Roush Fenway Racing. He remained behind the wheel of the No. 17 RFR Ford until making the move to Joe Gibbs Racing for 2013 to drive the No. 20.
Kenseth claimed his first-career Cup win in the longest race on the schedule, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2000. He went on to beat out Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Rookie of the Year honors that season.
In 2003, Kenseth was crowned the final Winston Cup champion before the series title sponsorship torch was passed over to Nextel, and then Sprint.
In all Kenseth has 30-career wins in his first 499 starts at the Sprint Cup level, including a series-leading six notched this season. He stats also include 131 top-fives and 239 top-10 finishes.
CHECK OUT THIS MATT KENSETH PHOTO GALLERY (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR: