Bristol, Tenn. (March 16, 2008) -- Bad weather again plagued the weekend’s NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway. Though Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Dish Network team were able to get some practice time in on Friday and Saturday, qualifying was rained out and the field was set by 2007 point standings. Kenseth started Sunday’s Food City 500 in the fourth position. Despite battling a tight handling racecar for the majority of the 500-lap event, he still wheeled his way to a solid 10th-place finish.
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures were the conditions in Bristol, Tenn. when Jimmie Johnson led the 43-car field to the green flag on Sunday afternoon. Kenseth, in the No. 17 sporting the colors of Dish Network, followed closely behind in fourth place.
Throughout the first 50 laps of the race, Kenseth maintained a top-10 running position. However, when the competition yellow was thrown on lap 50 he reported that his Ford Fusion was “loose on exit and snug in the middle of the corners,” and requested that the No. 17 be able to “turn better.” Crew chief Chip Bolin directed Kenseth to pit road where the “Killer Bees” made track bar and air pressure adjustments in hopes of remedying the handling issues. In what should have been a quick stop, a minor mishap in the pits cost Kenseth valuable time and several track positions. Kenseth restarted the race on lap 57 in 15th place, down six positions from where he was when the caution fell.
Kenseth would see pit road three times over the next 233 laps (on laps 95, 189 and 280). On each stop the Dish Network crew would continue to tweak the No. 17 Ford in hopes of improving the tight handling conditions that Kenseth was reporting. Wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments were made on each stop, though nothing really seemed to be working. In spite of not being completely satisfied with his car, Kenseth maintained a top 12 running position throughout it all.
With just 100 laps remaining in the race Kenseth was running in 10th place. While he continued to report that the No. 17 was “extremely tight,” he held off the competition to maintain his position.
On lap 490, caution waved allowing Kenseth to pit for the sixth and final time. He entered the pits in 10th place and exited 13th after receiving four tires, a splash of fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The race restarted on lap 495; however another caution fell on lap 498 setting the stage for a green-white-checkered finish.
Kenseth took the race’s final green flag in 12th place and wheeled his way up to 10th before the checkers waved.
“We just missed it real bad and could never really fix it,” said Kenseth. “The guys did a good job in the pits and we made as many adjustments as we could and we hung in there on the lead lap because we had a good starting spot, but we just missed it a lot.”
Jeff Burton won the Food City 500. – his 20th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. followed to complete the top five.
Kenseth and the No. 17 crew will enjoy a weekend off, but will return to action on Sunday, March 30 at Martinsville Speedway.
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.