No. 17 Team Showing Familiar Performance With Fifth Consecutive Top-10 Finish
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT/Carhartt Ford Fusion started Sunday’s LifeLock 400 in 16th position after rain cancelled Friday’s time trials at Michigan International Speedway and owners point standings set the field for Sunday’s 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. By lap 20 Kenseth had maneuvered his way into the top five and was looking as though his Ford Fusion would be the one to beat. Throughout the 203-lap event (extended by three laps for a green-white-checker finish) Kenseth kept the No. 17 out front, turning 26 of the race’s fastest laps and leading four times for 41 laps. Despite the commanding performance, long green flag runs made fuel mileage the determining factor in the race. With just over 10 laps to go Kenseth, leading the race, and the other frontrunners were forced to pit for fuel. After a quick stop for two tires and fuel Kenseth rejoined the race in 17th position on lap 189. By lap 197 Kenseth had sailed up to fifth place however a late-race caution set the stage for the green-white-checker finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who did not pit for fuel, was the leader when the green flag waved for the final time. Shortly after the green flag waved for the three-lap sprint to the finish caution fell once again, freezing the field and Earnhardt, Jr. captured the win. Kenseth finished third.
Points leader, Kyle Busch led the 43-car field to green at on a warm Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, Mich. Kenseth in the black No. 17 Carhartt Ford Fusion followed in 16th position. By the first caution on the third lap Kenseth had put the No. 17 into 13th place and was reporting his Ford was “fairly neutral.” It was a quick caution and crew chief Chip Bolin directed Kenseth to stay out and by lap 20 the No. 17 was running in fifth place.
The first cycle of green-flag pit stops ensued around lap 34. In hopes of leading a lap Bolin kept Kenseth on the track until lap 38, however a pit stop was needed and Kenseth entered the pits in third place. After a quick routine stop for four tires and fuel, Kenseth rejoined the race and continued his march to the front.
The second round of green-flag pit stops commenced on lap 78 and Brian Vickers was the race leader. When everyone had put on tires and filled up with gas, it was Kenseth out front on lap 81.
By lap 90, Kenseth led with Vickers in second, almost five seconds back. The third caution of the day, this one for debris on the track, slowed the action at 92 laps and Kenseth once again saw pit road. In just under 12 seconds, the No. 17 crew bolted on four tires and filled the Carhartt Ford with fuel. Kenseth exited the pits in second place, just behind Carl Edwards, as Edwards only took on two tires. The race resumed on lap 96 with Edwards in front, but Kenseth regained the lead on lap 114.
Continuing to dominate, Kenseth held the lead through another cycle of green flag stops. However during a routine stop, under caution on lap 146 when Kenseth pitted for just two tires and fuel a NASCAR official hindered his exit from the pits and cost team 17 several track positions. Kenseth was scored in fifth position on lap 151 when green flag racing commenced.
Disappointed in the incident, Kenseth returned to the track determined to make up ground. Still, another pit stop would be required to finish the race, since Kenseth was just four fuel laps short of making it to the end. On lap 188, Kenseth brought the No. 17 down pit road for a final stop for two tires and fuel. He rejoined the race in 17th place. By the lap 197 caution that set the stage for the green-white-checker finish, Kenseth was running eighth.
Since several competitors were forced to pit for fuel under this caution period Kenseth took the final green flag in fifth place. Though he was able to gain two positions in just under two laps, another caution would fall, freezing the field and third place would be the best Kenseth could do.
“It was good,” said Kenseth just after the LifeLock 400. “Our car was pretty decent all day. It felt like we were a little off, but our speed was really good all day. I thought it was a real fun race. I thought it was exciting, three- and four-wide racing, and track was real challenging today, so I thought that was a good time. But I thought we just kind of got beat on the pit deal again. We had an official in front of our car when we stopped for two tires and that cost us two spots leaving the pits, and that really hurt us. Then, we had a little miscue on our final two-tire stop and that hurt us a little bit, too. Just didn’t quite work out. There was a lot of different strategies, and some guys could make it to the end and some couldn’t, and we were just not exactly in the right place to capitalize on it.”
Earnhardt, Jr. broke a 76-race winless streak by winning the LifeLock 400. Kasey Kahne followed in second. Kenseth was third, Vickers was fourth and Tony Stewart finished fifth.
The fifth consecutive top-10 finish by Kenseth boosted him from 15th to 14th in overall point standings – just 14 points out of 12th place.
Next week, Kenseth and the No. 17 crew will head to Sonoma, Calif. for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. TNT television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast beginning at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
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.