August 20, 2006 on TNT
KENSETH JOINS DETROIT LIONS FOR TRAINING CAMP VISIT
Michigan International Speedway
MI. – Matt
Kenseth grew up just three hours from the home of the NFL’s
Green Bay Packers and once traded helmets with legendary Packer
quarterback Brett Favre before a Monday Night Football audience,
but on August 17, Kenseth spent his day with a rivaling NFC North
Before coming to Michigan International Speedway to prepare for
Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250 and Sunday’s
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series GFS Marketplace 400, Kenseth was in nearby
Allen Park to visit the training camp of the Detroit Lions as they
did some preparation of their own for the 2006 NFL regular season.
While Kenseth will have just completed his final race before the
start of the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, the Lions will host the Seattle
Seahawks on September 10 to open their 2006 campaign.
Though a lifelong bearer and supporter of the Green Bay green and
gold, the driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford had no problem blending
in with the rivaling Lions and enjoying the sights as the squad
ran through drills just hours before boarding a bus to Ohio for
a preseason contest against the Cleveland Browns.
“I’m just a big football fan so it’s cool to come
out and see the Lions,” said Kenseth over the roar of artificial
crowd noise used for game simulation. “Obviously, I’m
a big Packer fan but it’s cool to watch them work. I’ve
seen the Lions play quite a few times both in the playoffs and since
they’re also in the NFC North.”
“It was cool to meet the guys and to talk with (Lions president
and CEO) Matt Millen. When you get to find out more about a team
it definitely makes you more of a fan and it makes you pay attention
A 34-year-old native of Cambridge, Wisconsin, Kenseth was quick
to point out the similarities and differences between the NFL and
the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
“One of their games is like us running at Martinsville and
Bristol every weekend. It is definitely a lot more physical sport
than what ours is though, so that’s why it’s fun to
watch how they prepare,” he said.
This weekend, Kenseth will take a double dip on the MIS oval, entering
cars in both the Busch Series and the NEXTEL Cup Series, where he
currently sits second in points behind Jimmie Johnson. Though he
ultimately qualified for the Chase in 2005 after being in 17th place
with just six races remaining before the start of the playoff, Kenseth
would seemingly feel more comfortable entering the end of 2006 given
his high position. However, that is not necessarily the case.
“It’s not a whole lot different. Last year, actually,
when we got back in it I felt really good about it because we were
running really good and we got into the Chase on a strong note even
though we only entered eighth in points,” said Kenseth. “It’s
important to make it and after this weekend we’ll have a better
idea of whether we’re in or not yet.”
“You don’t want to be like we were in 2004 when we were
solidly in it the whole time but saw our performance steadily decline
so that when we went into the Chase we were nowhere near ready to
win a championship,” he added. “It’s more important
for me to perform at a level where we can win the Chase once we
Though normally humble and quiet, Kenseth brimmed with confidence
when discussing his approach to the Chase.
“We’re in a pretty good spot so we won’t make
many changes. We maybe want to gain a little (on Johnson) but we’re
going to approach this one race at a time. It’s one thing
to make the Chase but we need to have a little momentum and hit
the Chase on a high note.”
As the Lions retreated to the showers at the conclusion of practice
and Kenseth’s No. 17 showcar was rolled out onto the practice
turf, members of the squad roared with approval. Former University
of Wisconsin Badger and current third-year linebacker Alex Lewis
asked for a picture with Kenseth. Fourth-year tight end and NASCAR
fan Casey FitzSimmons examined the inside of the car, perhaps a
little disappointed that he would have a difficult time fitting
his six foot, four inch, 258-pound frame into the tight confines
of the stock car.
“Last year I went out to MIS and I got to see the cars. I
actually got to sit in the pits on a pit stop so it was pretty cool
to see these guys go,” said FitzSimmons. “I’m
going to run down there Sunday and check out a few laps.”
FitzSimmons wasn’t the only Lion impressed by the No. 17 machine.
“You think they’ll let me take a lap?” questioned
third-year linebacker Teddy Lehman as he lifted weights.
“Look at this thing. It ain’t got no brake lights! I
guess you don’t stop,” offered starting wide receiver
Offensive line coach Larry Beightol had fun of his own. Driving
his own golf cart replete with a pink paint job and black racing
stripes around the facility, he pulled his chariot next to Kenseth’s
Ford and offered a challenge. Coach “Beck” then traded
helmets with Kenseth and joined first-year head coach Rod Marinelli
in thanking the driver for visiting practice.
“From one good guy from Wisconsin to another, we wish you
the best,” said Beightol, a former Packer assistant.
Though Kenseth’s NFL loyalties may now be mixed after his
visit to the Lions’ camp, one sure thing is that each of the
Lions will be pulling for one man during Sunday’s GFS Marketplace
400: Matt Kenseth.
Guests who wish to purchase fan hospitality packages – and
secure the best remaining seats for MIS’s premier events –
may call 1-800-354-1010. Guests who have already purchased tickets
and would like to upgrade to a fan hospitality package are also
encouraged to contact the ticket office, also at 1-800-354-1010.
Remaining Hospitality packages for the 2006 season:
Victory Lane Club, NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250, (August 19)
Victory Lane Club, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series GFS Marketplace 400
Tickets to all remaining events during the 2006 MIS season delivered
by Domino’s Pizza, including the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz
Group 200 on August 18, the NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250 on August
19, and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series GFS Marketplace 400 on August
20, are currently on sale at MIS’s official website, www.MISpeedway.com,
or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.
to our 2006
GFS MARKETPLACE 400 Index.
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