Accident Ruins What Could Have Been a Top-10 Finish and Hurts Chase Standings
CONCORD, N.C. (October 11, 2008) – Since the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup has began, Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT/Carhartt Ford Fusion team have suffered many setbacks and obstacles – most of which due to no fault of their own. Accumulating three DNF’s over the past five races, Kenseth and company can’t seem to catch a break. One might say: ‘if it weren’t for bad luck, Kenseth and the No. 17 team wouldn’t have any luck at all.’ In Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Kenseth struggled with what he described as a “wicked loose” race car for the first part of the race. However after a number of aggressive adjustments, things were looking up for Kenseth, but bad luck found team 17 on lap 194 when the Carhartt Ford was tagged from behind and slammed into the front stretch wall. The damages incurred were terminal and Kenseth and crew were sent home with a 41st-place finish. The disappointing ending to night also upset Kenseth’s Chase standings – he moved from ninth to 11th place.
“There was just an accident I slowed down for and just got ran over from behind,” Kenseth said after being checked and released from the infield care center. “We really struggled with our Carhartt Fusion tonight, but Chip made a lot of really good adjustments. We actually had it a lot better there. I think we were probably close to a top-10 car. It’s nowhere where we want to be, but it was getting better. I was just slowing up for the accident and got run over.”
Rain cancelled qualifying for the eighth time of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and Kenseth took the green flag in the ninth position, as point standings set the starting grid for Saturday night’s 334-lap event., It would take just 12 laps for Kenseth to a feel for his No. 17 Ford and report that he needed “overall grip.” Kenseth patiently maintained the No. 17 and when caution fell on lap 43, he made his way to pit road for the first time of the night running in 12th place. After getting serviced with four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, plus inserting a spring rubber, Kenseth’s No. 17 was set for more competition. The race restarted on lap 48 and Kenseth was scored in 16th position.
Just five laps later another yellow flag would stall the race and Kenseth would again report that his Carhartt Ford was “way loose.” Crew chief Chip Bolin directed Kenseth to pit during the caution period to continue adjusting on the No. 17. Following the stop for wedge and air pressure adjustments, along with the removal of two spring rubbers, Kenseth rejoined the competition in 29th place on lap 59 when green flag racing resumed.
On the ensuing run, Kenseth reported that the handling of the No. 17 was “wicked loose.” A lap 64 caution permitted Kenseth yet another trip down pit road and Bolin would call for the most timely and aggressive changes of the night. As Kenseth entered his pit stall, the Killer Bees quickly changed right side tires, and then hurried over to the left side of the No. 17 where the tires were removed, and then rear tire changer, Dave Smith dove beneath the rear end of the No. 17 to lower the positioning of the track bar. After the adjustment was made, the left side tires were bolted on and Kenseth exited pit road in 31st position just in time to take the green flag on lap 70.
Kenseth would see pit road on four more scheduled occasions over the next 116 laps. On each stop, the No. 17 crew would continue to tweak the Carhartt Ford in hopes of improving the loose handling conditions that Kenseth reported. By lap 180, Kenseth was running in 18th place, his lap times were more than a half a second quicker and he was reporting that his Ford’s handling was much better. Nonetheless, the success would be short-lived. On lap 194, an accident erupted in front of Kenseth. Though, by all accounts, Kenseth had avoided the melee in front of him, the No. 28 came charging from behind and clipped the rear end of Kenseth’s Ford. The contact sent Kenseth’s No. 17 into the wall. The damages incurred from the brutal hit crushed Kenseth’s chances at a top-10 finish and sent team 17 home with a 41st place finish.
“It has been tough for us over the past several weeks, it’s been borderline miserable for sure,” said Kenseth. “There have been a couple of bright spots, but even when things go right they go wrong. At Kansas we had a really good car, got wrecked there. Got wrecked last weekend with a really good car and then couldn’t really do a lot about any of that stuff, I don’t think. It’s just been one of those months. Hopefully, it will get better.”
Following the 41st-place finish at Charlotte, Kenseth and the No. 17 team fell from ninth to 11th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 360 markers behind point leader Jimmie Johnson.
The Sprint Cup Series races next at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 19, 2008. ABC television and MRN radio affiliates will carry the live broadcast of the Tums QuikPak 500 beginning at 2:00 p.m. (EST).
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.