Although not quite 40 years old, Ford wheelman Matt Kenseth is still able to float effortlessly between the old school and new wave of NASCAR.
The driver of the No. 17 car for Roush Fenway Racing -- who worked his way up through the unglamorous ranks of short track racing -- is a throwback to the days when competitors had to make up for a lack of money with a lot of skill.
Instead of leapfrogging from the truck series to Busch (now Nationwide) and then Cup, he spent a good amount of time in the American Speed Association and Hooters Late Model series before transitioning to NASCAR-sanctioned events.
Then again, the Wisconsin native was also one of several drivers who helped NASCAR broaden its appeal to a wider national base.
On Sunday Kenseth took the checkered flag at Dover, the place where he made his Cup debut as a fill-in driver for Bill Elliott back in 1998. The victory was his second of the season and his sixth place spot in the Cup standings is just 74 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Yet while Kenseth can lay equal claim to NASCAR's past as well as its present, he will always be known for three things: Being the last driver to win a Winston Cup crown, the last one to win the title under the old points system, and the man who inspired a "playoff."
The Chase for the Championship might still not exist were it not for Kenseth's 2003 season.
In the days before an on-track "postseason," consistency was what mattered most in NASCAR's biggest league. And points won were points kept; there was no redistribution of wealth with 10 races to go.
The rules served Kenseth well in 2003. Although he won just one race, he was able to finish near the front week after week and avoid DNFs throughout a 36-race schedule. Remarkably he led the points standings for 33 consecutive weeks and already had the series title wrapped up entering the final event at Homestead.
But there was one glaring stat that year that caused NASCAR officials to change the way they thought about determining a champion.
Ryan Newman won eight races in 2003 but finished sixth in the points standings.
Something seemed terribly wrong with that picture, and suddenly Kenseth became the poster boy for an antiquated points system.
Just a couple months after Kenseth claimed his first Cup title R.J. Reynolds was out as the main sponsor of NASCAR's top level, replaced by Nextel.
And now it's Sprint that has its name plastered all over NASCAR's main events while the "new" points system is in its eighth year.
In 2011 it has been tweaked to include two wildcard entries in a 12-driver field. Those wildcards will make it in based on having the most victories of any driver not in the top 10 in points.
It would be sweet irony if Kenseth qualified for the Chase based on wins, but after all these years he is still relying on consistency.
And the way he's performing this season, consistency might again be enough -- just as it was in the final year of the Winston Cup Series.