Early mechanical failure puts an end to No. 17 Team’s bid for three in a row
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 1, 2009) – Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 USG/DEWALT team went into Sunday’s Shelby 427 looking to make history at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by becoming the first team to ever start the season with three consecutive victories. However, the bid at history would be cut short, as his USG Sheetrock Ford Fusion bowed out of the race after only six laps - experiencing a major mechanical failure.
"It's disappointing we didn't get to race today, but those guys do a great job on engines," said Kenseth, who won the season opening Daytona 500 and last week at California. Doug Yates (engine builder) and the guys at Roush Yates Engines do a great job, and without their horsepower we couldn't win races like last week. I sure can't complain about those guys.
"I think it’s the first failure we’ve had in a couple of years,” added Kenseth. “It's just something that happens every now and again and it's just unfortunate it happened to us today. It doesn’t make it any easier that we won the last two weeks, because we wanted to come out here and compete again today. It’s been a tough weekend, and we’ll have to put it behind us and move on to next week.”
Feeling something wrong under the hood, Kenseth went to pit road after caution was called just two laps into the race. The No. 17 crew looked under the hood of the USG Ford Fusion to try to fix the problem, but Kenseth radioed that he had serious problems just moments before the field returned to green. The team will do a full evaluation to determine the cause of the problem on Tuesday.
“It quit making power and it started sounding funny,” said Kenseth. “You know when something is wrong. We didn’t even really get to race today and we qualified badly, so it was a pretty long weekend for nothing. It’s disappointing no matter what. I’m glad we did great the last two weeks, but really, you take it one week at a time and shift your focus to that race each and every week, so it’s always disappointing when something like that happens.”
The finish was only the second 43rd-place finish in Kenseth’s Sprint Cup career, with the first ironically coming in the 2003 finale at Homestead the weekend after Kenseth and the No. 17 team had claimed the 2003 Cup title.
The finish dropped Kenseth from the Sprint Cup points lead, but after three races the Cambridge, Wis. native still sits at third - only 40 points outside of first place. The series resumes action next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Kenseth has seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 18 starts at the 1.54-mile speedway. While he will look for his first win at AMS, Kenseth has five straight top-10 finishes at Atlanta, including four top-fives in the last five starts.
Next Sunday’s 500 mile race at Atlanta will be televised by FOX, with the green flag set for 1:30 p.m. (EST).