Matt Kenseth to debut in SRX Series at Nashville Fairgrounds in search of one more win

Kenseth SRX
Sean Gardner / Getty Images

Matt Kenseth returns to series racing Saturday, July 9, at Nashville Fairgrounds as he finishes the final three races of the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) schedule. This will be Kenseth’s first start in Tony Stewart’s spec car series, a debut two years in the making.

Kenseth might not have been done with racing when his Joe Gibbs Racing ride was handed over to Erik Jones at the end of the 2017 season, but instead of finding a non-competitive ride for a smaller team, he chose to leave the Cup series on a high note. In his next-to-last start in the No. 20, he won his 39th senior series race at Phoenix Raceway after starting seventh and went on to finish eighth in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway the next week.

He didn’t stay gone for long.

The urge to race remained, however, and the next year he was brought back to Roush-Fenway Racing – the team with which he had so much success – to help evaluate the flagship No. 6. It took a while, but he finally got them competitive with two top-10s to close the season.

In 2020, he was pressed into service with Chip Ganassi after Kyle Larson was fired from that ride. He finished second in the Brickyard 400 that year.

“The time goes by in a hurry,” Kenseth said earlier this week in a SRX Zoom call with the media. “It seems like it was not that long ago that we were [moving up to Cup]. It seems like a long time ago, but in most ways it doesn’t. It’s kind of fun now that you’re away from full time racing to look back and think about some of those great moments and things that happened throughout my career.”

Kenseth planned to run in SRX last year, but the start date of the series was moved up and family obligations kept him from doing so. Even now, he skipped the first three weeks of the SRX season to complete a six-week vacation with his family. That’s the benefit of being semi-retired.

But July will make up for Kenseth’s time away from the track. In addition to finishing off the SRX season, Kenseth will gun for his eighth Slinger Nationals title on Tuesday, July 12. He’s won three of the last four of those he entered, (2012, 2016 and 2019), and finished second in the other race.

With three winners in the first three weeks of SRX and racing equally prepared cars, Kenseth has a great opportunity to win at Nashville.

And while winning is foremost in his mind, it’s not the only thing his thinking about. Simply getting a chance to race against some of the greatest drivers from his generation is an end in itself.

“[SRX] has a lot of similarities to the old IROC series, which I always enjoyed racing in because you could race against a lot of guys you weren’t [regularly] on the track with,” Kenseth said. “It’s fun to go back and race with Greg [Biffle] and Ryan [Newman] and Tony [Stewart], the guys you’re familiar with.

“But it’s also fun to go race against people that you’re not familiar with that have had a lot of success in different forms of motorsports. So that’s the part that is almost the most interesting to me because I remember I thought it was the coolest thing ever I got to race against Steve Kinser when he came back racing in the in the IROC series, watching him win all those sprint car races and how famous he was and how good he was and all that. It’s fun to race against them all, but its more intriguing to race against some of the people you have never shared a racetrack with.”

Once the series clears this weekend, Kenseth will be out of his comfort zone.

SRX heads to I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. and then will close out Kenseth’s busy month at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway, a couple of dirt short tracks. Kenseth’s experience on dirt is minimal. He would say almost non-existent, but Kenseth has seven starts in Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream, an invitational race held from 2005 through 2012. Kenseth finished a career-best fifth there in 2009.

“We definitely tried to race, but obviously it’s more exhibition than racing,” Kenseth said. “It’s not like you’re trying to run the World 100. So that’s really my only experience. I’ve a done a little match racing in different shows at a couple of tracks. But I’ve never really raced like a real race on dirt. I’m looking forward to that. It’s something that has really intrigued me since running that late model at Eldora. It was so much fun and something I wish I had done a little more in my career. I guess, why not start now?”

Not that Kenseth needs the validation – he’ll be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year in recognition of his stellar career – but if he can get a win on one of the SRX dirt tracks, it will be a nice coda indeed.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)