BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 23, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team overcame a difficult weekend en route to a ninth-place finish in Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. After struggling to find the perfect setup during Friday’s practice sessions and qualifying 25th for the 500-lap event, Kenseth and company, led by crew chief Chip Bolin faced an uphill battle. But, in true team 17-fashion, proper adjustments, speedy pit stops and hard driving earned Kenseth another solid finish.
Roush Fenway Racing driver, Carl Edwards led the 43-car field to the green flag under the lights at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Kenseth rolled off 25th and would be unable to make up any ground through the first run of the night. Reporting that his DEWALT Ford was, “extremely loose and lacking grip,” Kenseth had his hands full trying to maintain position. Lap 96 brought out the first caution of the race and Kenseth gladly made his way down pit road. Scored in 26th-place, Kenseth brought the DEWALT Ford to his pit stall for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. When green flag racing resumed on lap 103, Kenseth was in 18th position.
Despite the adjustments made to the No. 17, Kenseth continued to report loose handling conditions. The ill-handling car coupled with a long green flag run equaled more trouble for team 17, as Kenseth went one lap down to the leaders on lap 181. For 20 laps, Kenseth maintained the Lucky Dog position and when caution fell on lap 215 due to a multi-car melee he returned to the lead lap.
On lap 217 in 20th position, Kenseth brought the No. 17 back to pit road for more tweaking. After receiving four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments, Kenseth rejoined the race in 18th place on lap 222.
The adjustments seemed to work as Kenseth worked his way up to 13th spot by the half-way point of the race. Kenseth would see pit road on three more occasions before the race’s finale and the No. 17 would improve track position throughout each stop. On lap 451, Kenseth took over ninth position where he would ultimately finish the race.
“It was a good result,” Kenseth said. “I mean, we ran really bad but we had good pit stops and made a lot of good adjustments. It was really a struggle, but at least we got a good result out of it. The car was all over the place. It was terrible to drive, but my guys did a good job on pit road and did a really good job when we needed it. Chip made a lot of good adjustments today, so I’m happy to bring the DEWALT Ford home in the top 10. It’s not what we aim for every week. For some reason, we’ve been quite a bit off from these guys, but it was a good result.”
Edwards passed Kyle Busch with 30 laps remaining and sailed on to his sixth win of 2008. Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.
The solid finish for Kenseth and the No. 17 team maintained their 10th-place Chase standing. With just two races left in the Race to the Chase, Kenseth is currently 66 points ahead of 12th place and just 63 points behind seventh place.
Kenseth and the No. 17 team will head out west next weekend for the Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Racing action will be broadcast live on ESPN television and MRN radio affiliates beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, August 30.
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.