Sixth-Consecutive Top-10 Finish for No. 17 Team Earns 12th Place Point Standing
SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion made his ninth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Infineon Raceway this weekend. In his previous attempts at the 1.99-mile Sonoma, Calif.-track, Kenseth had failed to achieve a top-10 finish, making Infineon Raceway the only track on the NASCAR circuit that he was unsuccessful at completing that fete. However, all of that changed in Sunday’s Toyota Save Mart 350. After struggling to find speed during the weekend’s practice sessions and qualifying a less than stellar 33rd, Kenseth and company, led by crew chief Chip Bolin knew strategy and smart racing would be the key to a strong finish. And, throughout the 112-lap (extended by two laps for a green-white-checker-finish) event, that’s exactly what they did en route to an eighth-place finish – Kenseth’s career best at Sonoma.
Kasey Kahne led the 43-car field to green on a warm Sunday afternoon in California’s wine country. Kenseth in the yellow No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion followed in 33rd position and settled in for a long day of twists and turns. Though Kenseth was able to gain several track positions by his first pit stop on lap 29, passing was difficult and he was scored in 27th place and struggling to make gains.
Still a determined Kenseth drove smart and by his second and final pit stop on lap 68 he had worked his way up to 22nd position. In the ensuing laps, Kenseth’s consistency on the track paid off and by lap 75 he was running comfortably in the top 15.
Late-race cautions, including a multi-car spin on lap 106 prompted by Kevin Harvick collected several of the race leaders and moved Kenseth into the top 10 for the lap 109 restart. However, the race was again stalled by caution before lap 109 was completed and the stage for the green, white, checkered restart was set.
When a green, white, checkered restart got the field going again, Kenseth was scored in 10th place. In the final laps of the event, Kenseth held off teammate Carl Edwards while managing to gain two spots on the track. When the checkers waved, Kenseth crossed the finish line in eighth place.
“I feel like we won,” said Kenseth after completing his career-best finish at Infineon Raceway. “This is the only track on the circuit that we never had a top-10 at, and we fixed that today. That’s my best finish ever here. I drove hard and got a good finish and we moved up in points. And that’s what it’s all about. The bottom line is really you do the best you can every week, and try to finish as high as you can and try to lead laps and do all that and the points take care of themselves – the higher you finish, the more points you get. So, really, it’s not a strategy, when you race hard and try to be smart and do the right things and hopefully get some good finishes and get back in it.”
Kyle Busch pulled away from runner-up David Gilliland, en route to his fifth victory of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears completed the top five.
The sixth consecutive top-10 finish by Kenseth boosted him from 14th to 12th in overall point standings.
Next week, Kenseth and the No. 17 crew will head to Loudon, New Hampshire for the Lennox 300. TNT television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast beginning at 2:00 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, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.