Mishap Takes Out All Three Roush Fenway Chase Contenders
TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 5, 2008) – Drivers head to Talladega Superspeedway hoping to avoid the inevitable “big one,” the wreck that takes out numerous competitors and results in numerous damaged race cars. When all 43 cars run bumper-to-bumper around the 2.66-mile track drafting off one another, the slightest mistake can be costly. Matt Kenseth appeared to be on his way to recording a solid finish in what was mostly an incident-free race for the driver of the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion, but a late-race incident triggered by teammate Carl Edwards took Kenseth out of contention just 17 laps from the finish.
Kenseth took the green flag in the 31st position on Sunday afternoon, and in typical superspeedway fashion shuffled in the running order as each lap was completed. It would take just nine laps for Kenseth to put the DEWALT Fusion in the second position, but just five laps later the No. 17 showed in the 29th spot. Kenseth patiently worked the draft, feeling out which line worked best for him to be in. The race continued under green flag conditions until lap 33, when NASCAR threw the first caution flag of the event for debris on the racetrack.
With a break in the action, Kenseth was able to report to crew chief Chip Bolin that he was happy with the balance of his DEWALT Ford, but could stand it being just a little looser. Bolin made the call to take on four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to give Kenseth the changes he was looking for. Quick work on pit road allowed Kenseth to rejoin the field in the 12th position for the lap 38 restart.
Kenseth wasted little time working his way to the front of the field, taking the race lead at lap 40. As the inside and outside lines shuffled position, Kenseth dropped back to the 14th position but was able to advance to the seventh spot when the caution flag was displayed for an incident with the Nos. 24 and 44 cars. Fearing he may have run over debris from the incident, Kenseth came to pit road to take on right side tires and fuel. The DEWALT crew again performed flawlessly on pit road allowing Kenseth to line up in the 15th position for the lap 58 restart.
Once the green flag dropped, Kenseth quickly worked his way back towards the front of the field, running as high as the second position at lap 65. His progress was quickly halted as a multi-car incident triggered by Brian Vickers’ blown right front tire brought out the red flag at lap 68. After a 17-minute delay, the drivers were told to re-fire their engines and the race resumed under the yellow flag. Kenseth and Bolin agreed to come to pit road to take on four tires and fuel, placing Kenseth in the eighth position for the lap 72 restart.
Kenseth continued at the front of the field in the ensuing green flag run, regaining the lead at lap 91. As the running order continued to shuffle with the completion of every lap, Kenseth experimented with running in various lines and with different drafting partners. As the race continued, Kenseth and Bolin began to feel that if they had the right help, their DEWALT Ford was capable of contending for the win. Kenseth practiced patience, knowing that any gains or losses in position were inconsequential until the closing laps of the event.
When the No. 29 of Kevin Harvick spun and brought out the caution flag at lap 164, Kenseth came to pit road for what would be his final stop of the day. The DEWALT crew performed routine service of four tires and fuel in 12.4 seconds, allowing Kenseth to restart in the 15th position. Things seemed to be going as they had been all day with the No. 17 shuffling positions, settling in around Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Kenseth held his place in line when suddenly the “big one” broke out around him, triggered by Edwards making initial contact with Biffle.
“I didn’t really see it,” said Kenseth of the incident. “I just saw the 16 was turned. I guess Carl said he turned the 16. I just saw the 16’s left front fender and I thought we were doing all right getting in front of it there. I pulled left as far as I could and I just couldn’t miss it. The 16 got wiped out and he wiped me out somehow. At the end we kind of worked our way toward the front. You knew it was gonna be crazy, but I actually felt like we were almost home-free.”
Following their 26th-place finish at Talladega, Kenseth and the No. 17 team continue in the ninth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 245 markers behind point leader Jimmie Johnson. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 11, 2008. ABC television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live broadcast of the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway beginning at 7:00 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.