NASCAR AMERICA: Matt Kenseth confident as Loudon looms (VIDEO)

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Prior to last year, Matt Kenseth had never won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. But in the second race of the 2013 Chase, Kenseth finally broke through at the Magic Mile for his first Sprint Cup win there in his 500th career Cup start.

It was his seventh and final victory in 2013, and while he remains winless this season, Kenseth returns to Loudon with some momentum after finishing 10th in the Chase opener last weekend at Chicagoland.

“I look forward to [New Hampshire] more now than I ever have before, let’s put it that way,” Kenseth told NASCAR AMERICA’s Marty Snider today at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters, where the team celebrated its new sponsorships for 2015 with Stanley and Dewalt Tools.

“It has been a decent track for us the last year and a half. JGR, I feel like in general has a pretty good program at all the tracks really, but I feel like on some of the flatter tracks, we’ve been pretty competitive…I never would’ve thought I’d be saying, ‘I’m really looking forward to going to New Hampshire, it’s been a good place for us.’ But I am looking forward to getting there.”

Kenseth also talked with Snider about having Dewalt come back as his primary sponsor, JGR’s overall performance at Chicagoland, and where he feels his No. 20 team needs to improve in order to contend for a championship.

You can see the full interview in the clip above.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994