LONG POND, Penn. (June 8, 2008) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team continued their roll of top-10 finishes this weekend at Pocono Raceway, bringing home seventh place. Prior to the race at Pocono, crew chief Chip Bolin decided to build a new car and try something new. When the team tested the car just two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway, they were happy with the results from the get-go and brought RK-606 back to race. The decision proved to be a good one, as Kenseth posted decent times during each of the weekend’s practice sessions and qualified a respectable 13th for Sunday’s Pocono 500. Despite the ever-changing track conditions, the uncertainty in pit strategy and the overall difficulty passing with the new-style race car, Kenseth, with the help of the “Killer Bees” pulled off a strong run at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track.
Pole sitter, Kasey Kahne led the 43-car field to the green flag under warm, muggy conditions at Pocono Raceway. Kenseth rolled off 13 and soon reported that he was having trouble turning off of turn one. In spite of his concerns, Kenseth managed to advance to 12th place by the first caution on lap 28. During the yellow flag period, Kenseth made his way to pit road for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and wedge adjustments. After a quick stop, Kenseth rejoined the race in ninth position set to take the green flag on lap 31.
Kenseth continued to cruise around in ninth place, unable to make up any ground because the new style cars make passing difficult. Other than the passing issue, Kenseth reported being satisfied with the overall handling of his Ford Fusion.
On lap 56, Kenseth was scored in ninth place when caution fell again. Kenseth was back on pit road and pit strategy came into play. Bolin called for two tires and fuel on this stop and when the green flag was displayed again on lap 63, Kenseth was running fourth. Just four laps later, however rain started to fall and the race was briefly red flagged.
The clouds and rain altered the track conditions and once racing resumed, the handling of Kenseth’s Ford changed as well. Another pit stop on lap 81 allowed the No. 17 crew to tweak the DEWALT Ford and by the half way point of the race, Kenseth was again running comfortably inside the top 10.
Throughout the ensuing laps, Kenseth held a top-10 running position. However, he reported that the DEWALT Ford was “wicked loose.” A caution came on lap 176 allowing Kenseth to pit to correct the handling problems. Though the handling problems were corrected, because of pit strategy, Kenseth restarted the race in 22nd place, with just 19 laps remaining in competition. In true Kenseth fashion, he forged ahead and by lap 188, he was back inside the top 10. In the final laps, Kenseth continued to make gains and ultimately captured the checkers in seventh place.
Before an estimated crowd of 105,000, Kasey Kahne won the Pocono 500, his ninth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton followed to complete the top five.
The solid finish for Kenseth and the No. 17 team boosted them from 16th to 15th in overall point standings – closing the gap on 12th place by just 34 points.
Kenseth and the No. 17 team will travel to Brooklyn, Mich. next week for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The racing action will be broadcast live on TNT television and MRN radio affiliates beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, June 15.
Crew Chief Chip Bolin on the Pocono 500:
“We decided before we came up here to test that we were going to build a new car and try something to come up here, and when we unloaded it he (Matt Kenseth) really liked the way it drove, so we brought back and he liked it when we unloaded it. Everybody pretty much busted their butt there in the month of May to get it built so we could bring it up here and test it, and I think everybody’s hard work paid off. I don’t think we’ve ever run that strong at Pocono.
“Points become more and more important every week, and the 9 looks like he’s got his game. He’s actually moved up. And now the guys we’re chasing are the 07 and the 20, but we’ve still got to get around the guys that are between us and them. But, it looks like if we all do what we’re supposed to be doing when we’re doing it, we’ll be all right.”
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.