DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 10, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT NANO Technology team came to Darlington Raceway this weekend looking for a little redemption. Since suffering three finishes of 38th or worse in the last three races, Kenseth and company, led by crew chief Chip Bolin needed to turn things around. However, at a track known as being Too Tough to Tame with a newly-paved surface, which yielded a new track-record average speed of 140.350 mph, team 17 had their work cut out for them. After struggling with handling and speed in all four of the weekend’s practice sessions and turning in a 34th-place qualifying attempt, it didn’t look as though this would be the weekend Kenseth and crew would turn things around. Nonetheless, in true 17 team-fashion, they did. The crew worked on the DEWALT Ford throughout the race and Kenseth crept through the field as the race progressed. In the end, Kenseth scored a sixth-place finish in Saturday night’s Dodge Charger 500.
Roush Fenway Racing driver, Greg Biffle led the 43-car field to the green flag on Saturday evening under warm conditions at Darlington Raceway. Kenseth rolled off 34th for the 367-lap event. Within the first 10 laps of the race, Kenseth had marched up to 26th position, in spite of reporting that his Ford Fusion needed “more front grip.”
A caution on lap 11 permitted Kenseth to pit for the first time of the race. Four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment were prescribed by Bolin in hopes of remedying the handling issues that Kenseth reported. Green flag racing commenced on lap 15 and Kenseth was scored in 29th place.
Over the next 77 laps, Kenseth would make his way through the field gaining several positions and on lap 92; he reported that his DEWALT NANO Ford was “better.” When a cycle of green flag pit stops began around lap 113, Kenseth was running 17th.
Kenseth would see pit road on three different occasions over the ensuing 91 laps. On each stop the No. 17 crew would make minor adjustments to continue to improve the handling of Kenseth’s Ford. After a stop on lap 204 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment, Kenseth rejoined the race in 13th place. However, fewer than 10 laps later, Kenseth radioed to the team that he had a flat tire. Though there were concerns in the pits, Kenseth remained on the track, even picking up three positions, before a caution fell on lap 235 allowing him to stop.
On lap 235, Kenseth in ninth place brought his DEWALT NANO Ford down pit road where the No. 17 crew serviced Kenseth’s Ford with four fresh tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. After the speedy stop, as Kenseth was exiting his pit stall, he was tapped in the close quarters of the pits by another competitor. The contact resulted in minor fender damage to the DEWALT NANO Ford. Though there was some concern that the damage may cause a tire rub, Bolin directed Kenseth to stay on the track, so not to lose valuable track position. When green flag racing commenced on lap 240, Kenseth was in seventh place.
By lap 242 the fender damage was causing the dreaded tire rub, however Kenseth remained on the track and held on for yet another much needed caution on lap 248. Breathing a sigh of relief, Kenseth made his way down pit road so that the No. 17 crew could repair the fender damage. Though he lost 10 track positions, Kenseth’s Ford was repaired and he again plotted his course to the front.
By his final trip to pit road on lap 301, Kenseth had worked his way up to 10th place and was reporting that he was pleased with the handling of the DEWALT NANO Ford. The green flag fell for the final time with just 60 laps remaining in the race and Bolin directed Kenseth to save fuel, as they were about five laps short of their fuel window. Though Kenseth was not able to race as hard as he would have liked for the finish, he still managed to gain four spots and capture the checkers in sixth place.
“We’ve been running so terrible and having such bad luck, so I was happy for our finish. The only little thing frustrating is the racing was kind of weird at the end. Everybody is riding around half-throttle and when you have a hard tire and a little fuel cell everybody is trying to stretch that last five laps, so that was kind of weird. But, other than that, it was good. It was a great finish for us and we ran pretty good. It was kind of a typical 17 team finish. We started toward the rear and ended up with a good finish, it just took us that long to get our car right and we had it really good that last run. We actually had it pretty good before then, but we got the fender knocked in on pit road and had to give up all that track position, but everything pretty much went right for a change.”
Kyle Busch earned his third win and eighth top-10 finish of 2008. He remains the series' standings leader for the second consecutive week. Carl Edwards finished second, followed by Jeff Gordon in third, Dale Earnhardt Jr., in fourth and David Ragan in fifth.
The solid finish for Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT NANO Technology team advanced the team from 22nd to 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. Kenseth is currently 577 points behind point leader Kyle Busch.
Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT NANO Technology team will enjoy a break from points racing this week and race fun and prestige in the annual All-Star race. Kenseth and crew will take to Lowe’s Motor Speedway this Saturday evening for all the racing excitement. FOX television and PRN radio will carry the live broadcast beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
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, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.