Ross Kenseth to make NASCAR debut with help from his dad

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) Ross Kenseth will make his national series debut at Chicagoland Speedway, where he will drive for the same team, same sponsor and with the same car number used by his championship-winning father at NASCAR’s highest level.

Kenseth will run the Xfinity Series race June 20 in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota sponsored by Dollar General. His father, Matt Kenseth, drives the same combination in the Sprint Cup Series.

Ross Kenseth, who turns 22 next month, has been actively trying to build a racing career but has struggled to find opportunities.

”He’s never going to be more ready for the opportunity than he is now,” Matt Kenseth said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kenseth helped broker the deal with JGR for his son in the No. 20, which is driven by multiple drivers in NASCAR’s second-tier series. Erik Jones picked up his first career Xfinity Series victory last week at Texas Motor Speedway in the car, which is considered one of the strongest in that series.

”Ross has been working really hard to get a good opportunity,” Kenseth said. ”I feel the 20 is one of the best cars out there. It’ll be a great shot for him.”

Ross Kenseth has just two ARCA starts to his career, but finished third at Kansas last year. He has never raced in one of NASCAR’s three national series.

A Wisconsin native who has many of the same mannerisms as his two-time Daytona 500 winning father, Ross Kenseth has raced mostly on short tracks across the Midwest. As he scratched and clawed on his own last season, Ross Kenseth often worked on his own cars and drove the hauler to events.

”I probably ran 25 races last year, and for the amount of work I put in, it seemed like a lot more than that,” Ross Kenseth said, adding he will run ARCA races this year at Michigan and Chicagoland to prepare for his NASCAR debut.

”To get your first start with a competitive organization that’s won a lot of races, it’s everything a driver wants to have,” he said.