There are many adages in racing. Such as the fastest car doesn’t always win, or the only important lap to lead is the last lap. Matt Kenseth debunked the former, while proving the latter, with a dramatic last lap, last turn pass of Steve Carlson to win the ASA Midwest Tour 100 at the Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin this week.
Once Kenseth had passed his 17 year old son Ross for second place, he only had 16 laps to try to catch Carlson. Over the course of those laps, Kenseth tried both the inside and outside lanes, but to no avail. On lap 96, Kenseth bumped Carlson square in the rear bumper and wiggled his car, but Kenseth backed off allowing Carlson to recover. It appeared at first that he might have backed off too much, as Carlson stretched his lead to two car lengths.
Kenseth had by far the fastest car on this night, as evidenced by both setting fast time in qualifying as well as his quick rise through traffic. He found himself right back on Carlson’s rear deck lid as they took the white flag. Kenseth then made a bonsai run deep to the outside of turn one, where Carlson drifted up slightly to block. Kenseth then cut hard to the inside and got his nose alongside Carslon coming off of turn two. As they proceeded down the backstretch, Kenseth drew even with Carlson entering turn three. Kenseth, knowing the veteran Carlson wouldn’t back down and try to slam the door, dove deeper into turn three and a bit lower than the preferred line. As expected, Carlson held his line and Kenseth drifted up into him, the cars made significant contact side by side and both cars wiggled. Kenseth was able to get back in quicker and pulled ahead coming off the fourth turn, and narrowly edged Carlson at the line for the victory. The only official lap Kenseth would lead the entire night.
“I want to apologize to Steve (Carlson) for getting into him that hard in the last corner,” said Kenseth from Victory Lane. “I had a run and got to his door. I got low down the backstretch ‘cause that’s what you have to do on the last lap, and I got in there too hard and really couldn’t have got off him. I wish I could have got in there and not even touched but I still think we would’ve beat him back to the line.”
Carlson, who in his career has been both the benefactor and victim in similar situations, was a bit more reserved and philosophical in his recollection of the finish.
“Well, we made some contact down in the corner,” said Carlson. “That’s racing I guess.”
When asked if these situations usually go both ways, Carlson basically agreed.
“Yeah it sure does, but it was a lot of fun,” said Carlson.
The race started out as being a lot of fun for 19-year-old Nick Murgic. Murgic shared the front row with Jeff Storm as the green flag fell, but it was Storm who jumped out to the early lead. That lead was to be short-lived however, as something in the suspension broke on Storm’s car and he came to a halt in turn four on lap four. This brought out the race’s first caution, and gave the lead to Murgic.
Murgic would take advantage of Storm’s misfortune and maintain the lead all the way through to the break at lap 75. While Murgic held the lead, the cars behind him swapped positions throughout the laps leading up to the break.
Ross Kenseth, who started third, would trade spots with Dan Fredrickson and Steve Carlson leading up to the break. Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth quickly worked his way through traffic from his fourteenth starting position.
The running order at the break was Nick Murgic leading, followed by Carlson, Ross Kenseth, Fredrickson, and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five. NASCAR star Tony Stewart, started 26th with a provisional, only made his way up to nineteenth at the break.
After the fifteen minute break for adjustments, a 25 lap shootout remained to determine the outcome.
Murgic got a good restart to begin the shootout, but it was soon evident the adjustments made were not to his liking. Carlson appeared content to ride behind Murgic for a few laps, but finally on lap 81, was able to make the pass on the inside. Murgic then got freight-trained over the next few laps and fell back to sixth place.
Carlson, who had victories in three of the first four races of the season in the series, appeared headed for yet another as he took control of the race.
Matt Kenseth started the final 25 lap shootout in fifth place, and quickly worked his way to the front. He passed Dan Fredrickson for fourth on lap 79. A caution on lap 83 for the spin of Griffin McGrath bunched the field back up, but once the race resumed, Kenseth once again proved he had the car to beat.
One lap after the green, Matt dove to the inside of Ross entering turn one, and cleared into third place coming off of turn two. By lap 87, Matt was able to get by Murgic for second, and with Ross on his tail pulling him into third.
However the much anticipated Kenseth vs. Kenseth battle for the win would never materialize. Ross’s car was a touch loose and he couldn’t keep up with his father.
Matt’s last lap pass for the win certainly delighted sold out crowd at Kenseth’s home track.
Tony Stewart, who has only raced a Super Late Model on asphalt in this event at Madison in each of the last five years, came home a respectable 15th.
“Every time I think I’m making ground, I screw up and go backwards again,” Stewart said. “It just shows the caliber of cars that are here. If the caliber of the field isn’t good, it’s a lot easier to pass, but if you got cars like this and good drivers, they just don’t make mistakes. When they did make mistakes you had to take advantage about it.”
Stewart was asked about why he continues to return to this annual event, given his owning of The Eldora Speedway and his racing teams.
“This is a night I look forward to every year,” explains Stewart. “Jason Schuler and the guys who bring this car for me to drive, they make it a lot of fun. We have as much fun after the race as we do during the race. Tomorrow is a long recovery day for me, so I normally take full advantage of having a good time out here. They have a special beverage for me on ice right now. As long as they keep inviting me back I’ll be here.
Results of the Swiss Colony ASAMT All Star 100
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Steve Carlson
3. Ross Kenseth
4. Dan Fredrickson
5. Steve Holzhausen
6. Nick Murgic
7. Jacob Goede
8. Dave Feiler
9. Chris Wimmer
10. Nathan Hasleu
11. Thor Anderson
12. Kris Kelly
13. Brian Reffner
14. Andrew Morrissey
15. Tony Stewart
16. Tim Schendel
17. Nick Panitzke
18. Bobby Wilberg
19. Mark Eswein
20. Michael Bilderback
21. Blake Brown
22. Kelly Bires
23. Chad Wood
24. Jeff Storm
25. Griffin McGrath
26. Gary LaMonte