Kenseth 2nd at "Hometown" Race
OREGON, Wis. (AP) -- Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart runs short-track special events in what little spare time he has. On Tuesday night he walked away from Madison International Speedway with a top-five effort.
Former Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth finished second at his hometown track to Chris Wimmer, and Stewart wound up fifth in the All-Star Challenge, a 100-lap super late model race on a half-mile oval.
Wimmer, a short-track veteran from Wausau, Wis., not only beat the NASCAR Cup stars, he also earned praise from Stewart, a two-time Cup champion.
"I don't know much about him, but it doesn't take long to figure out how good he is," Stewart said of Wimmer. "Obviously, you go beat Matt Kenseth like that, it's a big deal. Not taking anything away from the guys that are here, because man, these guys are tough. This is the toughest pavement late model racing deal that I've had."
Kenseth led 86 laps, but did not have the dominant car of the night. That distinction belonged to Wimmer.
"He was kind of dogging me the whole time, and there was no one close to him, so I just figured it was a matter of time," Kenseth said. "The outside seemed like it was kind of slick, so I just tried to park it on the bottom and sit there as much as I could."
Kenseth, aiming for his fourth win in eight attempts at MIS since 2003, started on the pole after a 13-car field inversion. He relinquished the lead briefly before regaining it on the fourth lap.
Wimmer and Kenseth ran side by side for a handful of laps before the two bumped into each other going into the fourth turn on lap 89. Wimmer got on the inside of Kenseth on lap 90 and took the lead for good going into the second turn.
According to Wimmer, patience was a key component.
"The way we unloaded, we were really good off the bat," said Wimmer, who started third. "I knew I had a good enough car to win, but it depends upon how lucky you are, having a good car and everything falling into place.
"I was sitting there watching (Kenseth). I didn't want to spin him out or tap him to get by him. I was watching him and knew I was better than him. I was just waiting for him to slip up so I could get underneath him."
The victory at the fourth annual All-Star Challenge was particularly satisfying for Wimmer, who had a strong car in 2008, but got shuffled to the back of the field after spinning out Stewart early in the event. He rebounded for a seventh-place finish last year.
Stewart, who started fifth in his fourth race at MIS, said he was thrilled with his performance after posting a 16th-place finish in 2008.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)