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The Inside Track

June 24, 2004|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

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What: "Beyond the Glory: Matt Kenseth."

Where: Fox Sports Net, Sunday, 8 p.m.

When NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth won what was then the Winston Cup championship in 2003, he was not exactly a popular champion.

Because his season included only one victory, there were those who said he won by racing for points, not victories.

But Kenseth answered his critics by winning two races this year and is in third place in the Nextel Cup standings.

Kenseth's rise to the top of the stock car racing world is the topic of the latest edition of "Beyond the Glory."

Kenseth was introduced to racing by his father, Roy.

In 1988, at age 16, Kenseth won his first feature event in only his third race ever. By his 22nd birthday, he had won more than 30 races.

Kenseth started out in the Busch Series in 1997, finishing second in 1998 and third in 1999. Then in 2000, just as fellow rookie Dale Earnhardt Jr. was about to claim his third win of the year at the Coca-Cola 600, Kenseth roared up from behind and stole the race, taking home his first Winston Cup victory and subsequently being named rookie of the year.

The next season, everything that could go wrong for Kenseth did, but he came back to win five races in 2002 and then the drivers' championship in 2003.

Of the criticism he received after winning that title, Kenseth says, "It did bother me and irritate me that people were talking about us winning just one race."

Wife Katie Kenseth, recalling her husband's first Winston Cup victory, said, "I remember standing next to him by the trophy, and I was crying, probably more than I should have been. He looked at me and he said, 'You're still my greatest accomplishment.' "

-- Larry Stewart

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