NASCAR’s Kenseth, Stewart wow fans at Madison Speedway

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366562211670.jpg’, ”, ‘Area drivers Brian Johnson Jr. of Machesney Park (photo above) and Steve Rubeck of Cherry Valley (left photo) finished 16th and 18th, respectively, in the Late Model feature June 26.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366551411839.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Former NASCAR Nextel Cup champion and Cambridge, Wis., native Matt Kenseth sits in the stands at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway June 26 during the Second Annual First Supply All Star Challenge.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366558918942.jpg’, ‘All photos by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Former NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart (top photo) sits behind the wheel of his car June 26 at the Second Annual First Supply All Star Challenge at Madison International Speedway (MIS). Matt Kenseth and his son Ross Kenseth (second photo from top) and Tony Stewart and his dad Nelson Stewart (bottom left photo) prepare for the Legends division race. Tony Stewart fields questions from area media (bottom right photo).‘);

Former Nextel Cup champions Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart return for Second Annual First Supply All Star Challenge

Someone once said, “You can never go home.” Former Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth proved that not only could one return home, you can also have an awfully swell time while you’re there.

Tuesday, June 26, Kenseth won the Second Annual First Supply All Star Challenge at one of the tracks where he began his racing career. Many fans consider Madison International Speedway (MIS) in Oregon, Wis., to actually be Kenseth’s “home track.” He was the Late Model track champion there in 1994.

Both Kenseth and another former Nextel champion, Tony “Smoke” Stewart, wowed more than 8,000 fans at MIS. Stewart finished the feature in the seventh spot. Local drivers Brian Johnson Jr. from Machesney Park and Steve Rubeck from Cherry Valley also raced against Kenseth and Stewart. Rubeck has won the last two Spring Classic championships at the Rockford Speedway. He finished 18th. Johnson Jr. was two spots ahead of Rubeck at the checkered flag. A total of 36 cars started the 100-lap main event.

Matt’s son, Ross Kenseth, and Tony’s dad, Nelson Stewart, were also at the track competing in the Legends division. Fifteen-year-old Michael Bilderback from South Beloit stole their thunder and won the 25-lap Legends feature. Bilderback usually races weekly at the track in the Late Model division. The younger Kenseth finished sixth and the elder Stewart finished seventh.

“This is the second year we’ve been here, and we always have a great time!” said racing fan Bruce Eklund of Rockford. His two sons and two of his grandsons accompanied him in the pits and VIP tent. Eklund said his wife bought them the VIP tickets for Christmas presents.

Matt and Tony have said they plan to return again next year. The big rumor in the pits was next year Matt wants to bring home one or two more of his Nextel Cup buddies to race with him. How much cooler would that be?

Even though we just finished the Fourth of July, it’s never too early to start thinking about what to get your favorite race fan for the holidays. Might I suggest you take a hint from Mrs. Eklund and get your tickets to the Third Annual All Star Challenge?

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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