Q&A: Ross Kenseth talks NASCAR timetable and favorite races in SBN exclusive

Ross Kenseth during driver introductions for the 2012 All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. - Matt Weaver

ATLANTA -- Ross Kenseth will return to the seat of a Super Late Model this Saturday night as he makes his debut in the new Southern Super Series Late Model tour at Gresham Motorsports Park. Kenseth, the 20-year-old son of NASCAR champion Matt, is no stranger to this style of racing or the half-mile in Jefferson, Ga.

He finished 13th in the prestigious World Crown 300 held here last July and is coming off an 11th-place finish in December's Snowball Derby. A focused student at Clemson University, Kenseth is talking a slow and methodical approach to working his way to NASCAR.

Kenseth took some time out of his schedule to chat with SB Nation on Thursday night before unloading for North Georgia and this weekend's Racing Radios 125, discussing a variety of topics, including his NASCAR timetable and winning each of the major Super Late Model events currently on his schedule.

SB Nation: You've raced in these cars and on these circuits before but how cool is it to see tracks in the Southeast band together and form the Southern Super Series? Having raced in PASS (Pro All Stars Series), do you see the benefits of tracks banding together like this?

Ross Kenseth: It's neat to have an organized series come together for some of the tracks that the other tours don't go to. I like to race on as many different tracks as possible so it's definitely a positive sign for short tracks to band together like this.

SBN: At the Snowball Derby, you told me you hadn't planned a concrete schedule yet. Do you have a better idea of what you're running now? And with Gresham, is this possibly an extended test session to chase the World Crown 300 in July?

RK: Everyone can check out our entire schedule at www.rosskenseth.com. As of right now we aren't planning on running the World Crown but I would love to because it's one of the most well-promoted show of the year.

But it's just too close to the Slinger Nationals (Slinger Speedway) and Howie Lettow Memorial (Milwaukee Mile) and we just don't know if we can run all three.

SBN: You won Winchester and the All-American 400 last year. Have you put any thought towards racing in - and trying to win - all four of the Grand Slam Super Late Model races (World Crown, All-American, Winchester and Snowball Derby) in one season?

RK: We're planning on racing the All-American, Winchester and Snowball Derby this year but we're going to chase the Red Bud 300 too. I put that near the top of my personal list, and being from Wisconsin, I've always had the Slinger Nationals on a list of races I'd love to finally win as well.

Our goal is to win every race obviously but it would be pretty neat to put it all together and be at the top of our game for some of the biggest events of our season.

SBN: You've placed a priority on finishing college but you still seem very motivated to chase NASCAR as well. Have you set a timetable and are you interested in any one-off possibilities if the right situation came along?

RK: I've never set a timetable but getting an opportunity in quality equipment in a premier NASCAR division is something I've been dying to get. Being a successful Sprint Cup driver has always been my dream and when that opportunity comes, I just have to make the most of it.

SBN: I think we forget how young you are because you've been doing this for so long. But when you see teenage talents like Chase Elliott, Kyle Benjamin and Erik Jones making their national touring series debuts, does that make you feel like you're falling behind?

RK: (Laughs) I definitely start to feel old when you compare me to those kids. It's tough right now to find the funding to go run in a national touring series. We just haven't found a high-caliber organization that's willing to put a guy in a car or truck that isn't bringing money with them.

Hopefully, we'll go out there and win 10-15 Late Model races this year and we'll steal someone's attention into giving me a chance.

SBN: Is (veteran crew chief) Butch Miller still working with you guys and what has he meant to your personal development?

RK: I love Butch Miller. He helped me a ton at tracks like Berlin that I initially struggled in when we first got started. We parted ways with him after the Snowball Derby and now Kelly Bires is calling the shots for me.

I'm really excited -- Kelly is a real sharp guy and has a lot of experience in several divisions.

SBN: You finished 13th in the World Crown 300 last July -- is that indicative of where you guys stand at Gresham right now or was there other circumstances behind that finish.

RK: Not at all. I feel like we had a top-five car here in July. We ran out of gas at lap 140 and went two laps down and just couldn't make them up before the final 25 where they eliminated the lap down cars.

SBN: Bubba Pollard obviously has some momentum after Nashville and has the know-how on these Southern Super Series tracks. What makes him so good down here - is it just experience or something else?

RK: He's just a really smart driver. I've been very fortunate to race with him over the past few years and he's one of those guys you have complete confidence in racing hard against. He stays out of trouble and is always around at the end which is why I think he has been so successful lately.

SBN: I think we're starting to see a resurgence in Late Model and short track racing right now. Do you attribute that to NASCAR no longer catering to that niche? And do you think we need to get back to this style of racing in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide levels?

RK: It's really encouraging to see tracks like Nashville Fairgrounds make a comeback and promote a lot more higher-paying races. I'm not entirely sure why things are turning around but it's very comforting to see more fans in the stands and more cars coming out to the tracks.

Hopefully that leads to more opportunities for young guys to take the next step.

SBN: Lastly, what are some of your personal favorite tracks?

RK: Madison International Speedway -- I grew up racing there. Winchester Speedway -- extremely fast place that's a blast to race on. Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville and Slinger Speedway are probably near the top of my list as well.

Ross Kenseth is hoping to continue his winning ways in the Super Late Model ranks and believes that success could come in this Saturday night's Racing Radios 125 at Gresham Motorsports Park. SB Nation Motorsports will provide live updates of the event and will host an interactive chat during the race on our Facebook page.

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