ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Matt Kenseth picked the best way possible to silence his critics: dominating a race and using a thrilling finish to get back to Victory Lane.
Considered boring in personality and the way he relied on consistency instead of wins to earn NASCAR's top title last season, Kenseth shed the image yesterday by nipping rookie Kasey Kahne at the finish line of North Carolina Speedway to win the Subway 400.
"It feels great to come here and be able to win and lead all the laps right out of the box," he said.
It was Kenseth's first victory in nearly a year. Although he led the point standings for a record 33 straight weeks, he had just one victory and only led 354 laps all season.
His method of collecting a series-best 25 top 10s was considered so drama-free, NASCAR changed the points system this year to prevent a repeat.
No matter to Kenseth, who led a race-high 259 laps and fought off a furious Kahne charge before edging him at the line by one-100th of a second -- the nose of the No. 17 Ford -- in the fourth-closest finish in series history.
It was yet another thrilling finish at what could be the final race at "The Rock." The tiny track already has lost one of its races under NASCAR's realignment and poor attendance could cost it its remaining date.
There were only about 50,000 fans at a track that seats 60,113.