CONCORD, N.C. (May 16, 2009) – Matt Kenseth came just two laps short of winning his second career Sprint All-Star Race, getting edged out on lap 98 of 100 by eventual race winner Tony Stewart Saturday night under the lights at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Kenseth, who ran in second position the majority of the race’s second half, took the lead with five laps remaining in the All-Star event, but was unable to hold off the advance of Stewart’s No. 14 car.
“It’s better to run second than anywhere else but first,” said Kenseth. “On the other hand, it’s disappointing when you take two to go on the track and you’re in the lead and you come home second. I feel bad that we got beat, but I think I could do it 100 times and I couldn’t hold him off.”
The race concluded with a wild 10-lap shootout, with Kenseth starting in second position. Kyle Busch made an illegal move to the outside on the restart, making contact with the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion and nearly collecting both cars. After the contact Kenseth dropped back to fourth position, before collecting himself and moving back to third just one lap later when a caution was called on lap 92 after Busch made contact with the No. 39 and No. 24 cars of Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.
Kenseth restarted in second, and wasted little time taking the lead from Busch on lap 95. After yet another caution, the Cambridge, Wis. native led the field to the green flag with just three laps remaining. He was able to hold off Stewart’s first attempt to pass on lap 97, but Stewart was able to get underneath the No. 17 Ford on lap 98, clearing Kenseth for the winning pass with just over one lap remaining.
“I thought we had a shot,” said Kenseth. “Most of the night we were really good on long runs and really bad on short runs. We were just really loose and we tightened it up a lot there at the break. The tires held up for four or five laps. I just got too tight and Tony (Stewart) was running up on me real fast there, and I chose the middle because I’d been really fast in the middle of (turns) one and two. That was my best groove, I just hit the ground and got so tight I couldn’t get it to turn.”
Kenseth started the race third, and never ran worse than sixth for the entire race. The team took two tires after the first 50-lap segment and ran all but a handful laps inside the top two positions afterwards.
Kenseth and the DEWALT Team return to action again next week at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 – the longest race of the season. Green flag for the event is set for 5:45 p.m. EDT. The race will be televised by FOX, with prerace coverage set for 5:00 p.m.
“I feel better about next week because our car was really fast on the long run tonight and we just had to go crazy and tighten it up to try to make it good on the short run there at the end,” said Kenseth. “We were just trying to crutch it too much, but 30 and 40-lap runs it was really fast, so I feel pretty good about the 600.”