HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team overcame numerous obstacles this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway en route to hard-fought eighth-place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. First, Kenseth and crew struggled to find speed during the weekend’s first practice session. After posting only the 31st quickest time during the session, the DEWALT team, led by crew chief Chip Bolin knew they had their work cut out for them. Kenseth then went on to qualify a disappointing 38th position during Friday evening’s time trials. Next, snow fall dampened the 1.54-mile Georgia track on Saturday morning, thus shortening valuable practice time for the No. 17 team. So, on Sunday, when the weather finally cleared and Kenseth took to the track, the DEWALT team knew they would face an uphill battle. Throughout 325-lap event, Kenseth struggled with the handling of the No. 17. However, Bolin and crew worked on the No. 17 all day and with the efforts of the team and the hard driving of Kenseth they earned an eighth-place finish.
Jeff Gordon led the 43-car field to the green flag on Sunday afternoon. Kenseth rolled off the starting grid 38th and by lap seven, he begin reporting that his DEWALT Ford was “so tight” and “lacking grip.”
Though Kenseth was able to gain some track positions, he fell one lap down to the leader on lap 27. A caution on lap 37 permitted a much needed pit stop for the No. 17 team. During the stop, Bolin called for several chassis adjustments in hopes of remedying the ill-handling Roush Fenway Racing machine. After the servicing, Kenseth rejoined the race on lap 42 in 38th place, one lap down.
The No. 17 would see pit road twice more over the next 71 laps (once on lap 84 and again on lap 113), each time for air pressure and chassis adjustments. Despite breaking into the top 20 and earning the “Lucky Dog” award, Kenseth was still not completely satisfied with the DEWALT Ford.
Green flag racing commenced on lap 118 and Kenseth was scored in the 19th running position. By the next pit cycle on lap 166 he had put the No. 17 inside the top 10; though still struggling with “tight in the center, loose off” handling conditions. Again the DEWALT crew made more adjustments to the No. 17 and Kenseth again gained more track positions.
Several more attempts were made to correct the handling problems of the No. 17 throughout the remainder of the race; however nothing really seemed to work. Even though Kenseth continued to wrestle with his DEWALT Ford, he still managed to hold on to a top-10 spot. In the final laps of the race, Kenseth persisted and wheeled his way to an eighth-place finish.
“The end result was great,” Kenseth said just after climbing out of his DEWALT Ford Fusion. “We didn’t run good at all and we were able to overcome almost being two laps down to finish eighth. Overall, I’m happy with the result. It was really a struggle. We ran really bad and got a good finish, so I’m happy with that.”
Before an estimated crowd of 100,000, Kyle Busch won the Kobalt Tools 500 - his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and the first for Toyota. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon followed to complete the top five.
Kenseth and the No. 17 crew head to Bristol Motor Speedway next for the Food City 500 at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Fox television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast beginning at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 16.
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.