CONCORD, N.C. (May 17, 2008) – There aren’t too many races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule that are non-points races, the Budweiser Shootout, the Gatorade Duels and the Sprint All-Star Challenge. Each race holds some prestige; however the All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is where the best of the best – race winners from the previous year or former All-Star race winners compete for bragging rights and a $1 million dollar check. Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT NANO Technology Ford Fusion qualified for the esteemed event by winning two races in the 2007 NASCAR season (California and Homestead), as well as being the 2004 winner of the All-Star race.
The field was set for the four 25-lap segment event with a special qualifying procedure that consisted of three laps around the track and a four tire change pit stop. Though Kenseth and company only managed a 14th-place effort, the team was optimistic heading into Saturday night’s 100-lap race.
Kyle Busch led the 24-car field to the green flag and looked as though he would run away with the win, however engine trouble took him out of contention just past the half-way mark and the race looked to be up for grabs. Kenseth, who started 14th, made his way up to third place by lap 50 and was reporting that his DEWALT NANO Ford was handling well.
During the lap 75 mandatory pit stop, the final of the race, crew chief Chip Bolin called for two tires and a track bar adjustment. Kasey Kahne exited the pits as the race leader and Kenseth restarted the race in seventh place, as not all cars took tires.
Throughout the final segment of the race Kenseth battled his way through traffic picking off the competition one-by-one. In the end, he was racing his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Greg Biffle for position. Though each were strong competitors, Biffle’s Ford Fusion would prevail.
When the checkers waved, it was Kahne, Biffle, Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart in the top five spots.
The solid finish for Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT NANO Technology team didn’t give them a points advantage; however the third-place finish was a moral booster that Kenseth hopes will carry over to next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.
“I’m just happy to run that good,” said Kenseth. “With the All-Star race, honestly, you guys might remember for a day or two, but I don’t think anybody else really remembers anybody except for the winner that got the million dollar check, so to finish third is great, but it’s not like we finished third and got a lot of points and all that. But for us it was almost like a test and it was a good morale booster, I think, for the team and a big confidence booster. We haven’t really been running very good this year and when we have run good, we’ve had a lot of problems. We were kind of back, I thought anyway, back in form a little bit. We were pretty competitive at times. Sometimes we were a little behind the 99, sometimes we were a little behind the 16 and a couple of other guys, but, overall, I thought we had a pretty good car. If it runs solid like that for 600 miles, I think we’ll have a car that can be a contender and that’s something I haven’t felt like for a while.”
Kenseth and the No. 17 team will once again take to Lowe’s Motor Speedway marathon of races, the Coca-Cola 600. The racing excitement will be broadcast live on FOX television and PRN radio affiliates beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, May 25.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.