Wrestles Loose Car to Top-Five Finish; Gains Two Spots in Chase Standings
Brooklyn, Mich. (August 17, 2008) -- After two weekends of racing at tracks historically unkind (Pocono and Watkins Glen) to Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion, the team was eager to travel to Michigan International Speedway this weekend in hopes of a little redemption. Since Kenseth typically runs well at the 2.0-mile track located in the Irish Hills of Michigan, posting one win and three top fives in his last four starts, the No. 17 team was looking for another solid run. Over the course of the 200-lap event, Kenseth and crew spent 193 laps in the top 15 and were consistently among the fastest cars on the track. However, despite the impressive stats, loose handling problems plagued the No. 17 and Kenseth would struggle much of the day. Through the great effort of the Killer Bees, who got Kenseth in and out of the pits quickly all day, Kenseth was able to maintain track position and pull off a solid fifth-place finish.
Pole winner, Brian Vickers led the 43-car field to the green flag at the start of the 3M Performance 400. Kenseth rolled off 14th and soon began reporting that his DEWALT Ford Fusion was experiencing “loose” handling conditions. Despite reporting an ill-handling car, Kenseth worked his way up to 11th place by the race’s first caution on lap 18.
Crew chief Chip Bolin called Kenseth to pit road during this period for the first time of the day in hopes that an air pressure adjustment would remedy the loose handling Ford. After the No. 17 crew bolted on four fresh tires and filled the DEWALT Ford with fuel, Kenseth rejoined the race in 12th place on lap 25.
Though Kenseth maintained his track position throughout the next run, he continued to report that his Ford was “undriveable loose”.
Kenseth would see pit road on three separate occasions over 70 laps for scheduled pit stops. Each time, the No. 17 team would make adjustments in hopes of resolving the loose handling conditions that Kenseth continued to report. Though track position was gained in the pits, as Kenseth moved from 11th on lap 25 to fifth on lap 96, the handling problems were not resolved.
For the duration of the race, Kenseth wrestled the loose-handling No. 17. When the checkers finally waved, he crossed the finish line in a hard-fought fifth place.
Roush Fenway Racing drivers made up four of the top-five finishers, as Carl Edwards captured his fifth Sprint Cup Series win of 2008. David Ragan finished third, followed by Greg Biffle and Kenseth.
The solid finish for Kenseth and the No. 17 team moved them from 12th up to 10th in overall point standings – 48 points ahead of 12th place.
“It was a struggle, to say the least. We were way off. We were really good here in the spring and probably had a car fast enough to win the race, but we were just really off today,” Kenseth said after climbing out the No. 17 DEWALT Ford. “All my teammates ran good. We got better at the end, these guys did a great job on pit road and great adjustments, and we just struggled all day. Even though we finished fifth, it was really hard work from my guys. They made good adjustments and got it better at the end. We had some really good green-flag transitions on our pit stops on pit road and we gained a bunch of spots during those green-flag stops. Track position is real important. If we would’ve been 15th or 16th on the last re-start, we probably would’ve finished somewhere back in there. They got me the track position and that helped get a decent finish out of the day.
“I haven’t really thought about the points race at all to tell you the truth,” Kenseth continued. “I’m more than a little frustrated with the way we ran here. This is probably one of our best tracks. Like I said, we ran good enough to win in the spring, and Carl and all of those guys used the stuff we had in the spring and then went out and beat us with it. We did a little bit different stuff because we just couldn’t get the handle on it all weekend. We got here and right off the truck we weren’t right, and just could never hit it, so even though we finished fifth, that’s a bright spot, but disappointed with how we performed.”
Kenseth and the No. 17 team will race The World’s Fastest Half-Mile, Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend for the Sharpie 500. Racing action will be broadcast live on ESPN television and PRN radio affiliates beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, August 23.
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.