SLINGER, Wis. — Matt Kenseth was growing tired of wondering what was next.
So, with snow on the ground in his home state in Wisconsin, Kenseth announced he was going to return to super late model racing, something he hadn’t done in three years.
It had been several months since he was last in any race car.
“Yeah. Kind of. This is a little hard to explain,” Kenseth said when asked if he was getting eager to go racing again. “Gosh, not going to work every day anymore, not knowing really what’s going to be next besides being at home and being a part of my kids’ and my wife’s lives and doing all that stuff; other than that not knowing what’s next.
“When you get your first few months of downtime especially, your mind wanders a lot. I’m like, ‘Gosh. What am I going to do? I’ve got to do something.”
So what did he do?
“Let’s call Joe (Wood) and see if he wants to build a car and go to Slinger. Let’s start there,” Kenseth said.
On Tuesday night, Kenseth rolled a No. 8 race car into Slinger Super Speedway and showed the fans by the thousands that packed into the track’s grandstands he still has it.
Kenseth prevailed in a spirited 20-plus-lap battle with Ty Majeski to win the 40th SUPERSEAL Slinger Nationals presented by Miller Lite. It was his record eighth Nationals title. The next closest is Lowell Bennett with five titles.
It was Kenseth’s first appearance at Slinger since edging Erik Jones for the Nationals title in 2016.
Majeski, who went on to finish second, had a comfortable 3.3-second lap erased with a caution with 27 laps to go.
On the restart, Majeski inched ahead of Kenseth, but Kenseth didn’t fall far behind, staying close to Majeski’s bumper.
Then, another caution with 13 to go set up the final dash to the checkered flag.
Just like the previous restart, Majeski got ahead of Kenseth and maintained the lead with the 2003 NASCAR and two-time Daytona 500 champion right in tow. With four laps to go, Kenseth nudged Majeski in the left-rear quarterpanel. But Majeski held on and it looked like he was going to hold off Kenseth.
At the taking of the white flag, Majeski and Kenseth were side by side. They stayed that way through turns one and two, down the backstraight into turn three. Then, in turn four, with inside position, Kenseth nudged Majeski up the banking and pulled ahead for the victory.
The short distance between turn four and the start/finish line was the only time Kenseth was in the lead for the entire 200-lap main event.
“He told me that he would’ve done the exact same thing. That’s short-track racing,” Kenseth said.
He added, “You’re not going to go dump a guy. I had several, several chances to run in the back of him and didn’t. He was really smart and really patient when I did get in there a foot or so, he’d move up and give me the room.
“I thought it was a great race. Of course, we won, but I still thought it was a great race.”
John DeAngelis was third, followed by Steve Apel, who set fast time in qualifying with a blistering time of 11.147, and Alex Prunty to round out the top five. Rich Bickle Jr. was sixth, followed by Grant Griesbach, Luke Fenhaus, Daniel Hemric and Ryan DeStefano to round out the top 10.
As for Apel’s qualifying time, only Tony Strupp’s 11.095 from 1994 has been quicker in track history in a super late model.
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