Sunday, May 23, 2004

Kenseth wins 'a million bucks, boys!'

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. - With $1 million on the line, Matt Kenseth moved right to the rear bumper of Ryan Newman - but never touched him - and then moved past with four laps left to win the Nextel All-Star Challenge on Saturday night, taking home the six-figure prize.

When it was over, Kenseth stepped out of character a bit and celebrated by doing doughnuts by the finish line.

"A million bucks, boys!" he screamed to his crew over the two-way radio. "You guys are the best!"

Kenseth beat Newman by about five car-lengths, with Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top five.

The defending Nextel Cup champ had one victory during his conservative run to that title, but he came into 2004 seemingly determined to alter his image. He won two of the first three races in dominating fashion, then struggled a bit over the next several races.

He broke out of that slump in a big way.

"It feels good to come here to have such a rocket car," Kenseth said. "I'm excited for this million bucks, and excited for all these guys on the crew."

This race is split into three segments, starting with 40 laps. Nearly half the field was damaged early, when Kurt Busch tried to push Greg Biffle past Kenseth on the 10th lap.

Instead, the contact sent Biffle into the outside wall at the end of the frontstretch, with a large portion of the field bearing down on him. In all, 11 cars were involved - including defending race champ Jimmie Johnson.

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