Rivals praise Kenseth

Leading NASCAR drivers have been quick to pay tribute to Matt Kenseth, after the Roush Racing driver secured the Winston Cup title at Rockingham in North Carolina yesterday (Sunday)

Rivals praise Kenseth

Despite taking just one victory this season, Kenseth has led the standings since March, with other drivers unable to match his sheer consistency. His rivals all agree that Kenseth is a worthy champion.

"I'm real proud of Matt and his team," said his predecessor as champion, Tony Stewart. "They were consistently better than everybody else all year long and that's what they're the champions. They earned it."

Dale Earnhardt Jr has led the chase of Kenseth for much of the season, although he dropped to third in the standings after Sunday's race.

"Unless you're out there fighting with 'em every week, you don't appreciate how tough it is to do what they've done," said Earnhardt, who lost out on the Rookie of the Year title to Kenseth in 1999. "They've had a great season. Matt and I have been through a lot together, so it I can't win it, I'm happy to see him get it."

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin played a major role in helping Kenseth into the Winston Cup. Ironically, while Martin has never won the title as a driver, he can finally call himself a champion - he co-owns Kenseth's car alongside Jack Roush.

"I've been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but I was right about Matt Kenseth," said Martin. "I'm real proud of that. I liked his style. I wanted Roush Racing to have him. There was no spot for him at Roush and I still insisted.

"[Crew chief] Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth have won this championship because they've made more of the opportunity that they've had than anybody else."

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Kenseth clinches Winston Cup
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