OREGON, Wis. – Ross Kenseth couldn’t tell you just how many laps he’s made at Madison International Speedway in his lifetime, but Saturday’s had to be one of his most impressive.
Kenseth qualified on the pole for Sunday’s Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200 at Madison with a fast qualifying time of 18.217 seconds.
“Driving in a late model is not a good comparison to these ARCA cars,” he said. “The biggest thing is the horsepower and driving into the corners. The guys did a great job preparing the car. It’s been a good weekend so far.”
Kenseth went out fourth in the qualifying session, then watched as his lap held up against the likes of Venturini Motorsports drivers Justin Boston and Kyle Benjamin, Mason Mingus, Frank Kimmel and local driver Travis Sauter.
“I’m excited about this race,” he said. “It’s great that some local guys can come up here and race against the ARCA drivers.”
Boston, in the ZLOOP Computer & Recycling Toyota, had the fastest time in the second practice session and was just a nose behind Kenseth at 18.238 seconds. Alex Bowman still holds the ARCA track qualifying record with a lap of 18.093 last year.
“I’m real excited about this race,” Boston said. “I would have liked to have qualified on the pole, but Ross put down a good time. I’m optimistic.”
Benjamin, 15, drove a 18.306 in his qualifying lap on the high-banked half-mile dubbed as “Wisconsin’s fastest half-mile.” He said his car will be good in race trim on Sunday.
“It’s a tough track to drive,” Benjamin said. “You can’t miss your marks at all. It’s a tough place. Third is a really good place to start.”
Mingus, in the WinTron Racing 811 Call Before You Dig-Diamond Equipment Toyota, qualified fourth with Kimmel, in the Ansell-Menards Toyota fifth.
Spencer Gallagher will start sixth in front of a pair of Cunningham Motorsports cars in the No. 77 of Tom Hessert and the No. 22 of Anderson Bowen. Sauter, in the No. 99 Lester Buildings Ford, will start ninth, just ahead of Mason Mitchell in the Happy Cheeks Ford. Mitchell’s streak of two consecutive Menards Pole Awards presented by Ansell ended.
Kenseth, who’s father Matt Kenseth is racing in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Briston (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and is expected to be at Sunday’s race, ran a full late model season at Madison plus has raced several times as part of a national touring series.
“Qualifying was real important for us,” he said. “It helps to have a good qualifying position here.”