Kenseth says NASCAR rivalries are unavoidable

By Monte Dutton
NASCAR This Week
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Youth was a hot topic last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, given the recent Kevin Harvick-Joey Logano spat at Pocono.
Matt Kenseth was asked how he dealt with establishing respect from veterans as a young driver.
“I can’t even remember when I was Joey’s age,” he said. “Every situation is different. Most of the time, if you try to respect people and race people the way you like to be raced, you will get that respect back.
“Throughout a career, you will have people that you just rub the wrong way, or vice versa, but you just have to try to get it worked out in your own way. I think everybody handles it their own way, and everyone does it a little bit differently.”
Kenseth was 26 when he debuted at the Cup level at Dover on Nov. 28, 1998 … and finished sixth.
No more Chevy? Er, no.
n Last week, General Motors actually circulated a memo to its employees requesting that the word “Chevy” not be used in reference to its most prominent brand.
Within a day of a story about the memo appearing in The New York Times, GM was backtracking.
“Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet,” the company said in a statement released Thursday.
Thank goodness Don McLean already wrote the classic “American Pie,” or else maybe his Chevy couldn’t have been driven to the levee.
And Chevrolet is so easy to rhyme.
Surprise, surprise
n Jimmie Johnson, whose dirt experience was mainly acquired in the desert, won the Prelude to the Dream last week at Eldora Raceway, Tony Stewart’s Ohio track. The continuing success of the annual event has led to talk of a dirt series for NASCAR’s best.
“I would like to see more of that,” said Clint Bowyer, “maybe two or three more races like that, I don’t know, maybe in a Cup car or something; some kind of all-star race that’s different.”
The 1970 Home State 200, run at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, was the last dirt-track race in NASCAR’s premier series.
Reason for optimism
n Kasey Kahne said Ford’s FR9 engine, fully operational for the first time at Michigan, will improve the performance of NASCAR’s only winless manufacturer to date.
“It was a night-and-day difference from what I had at Pocono,” said Kahne, who finished second. “All the Ford teams will run better now.”
Four Fords finished in the top 12 at Michigan, as all nine Ford teams had access to the engine for the first time.
“We definitely have the power now,” said Greg Biffle, who finished ninth – his first top-10 finish since April.
Hall numbers
n In its first 21 days, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte drew more than 30,000 visitors.
At that rate – though it surely won’t remain as high, since the facility just opened – the annual visitors would total slightly over 500,000.

John Pitts