Concord, N.C. (May 25, 2009) – Matt Kenseth drove his R+L Carriers Ford Fusion to a solid 10th place finish in Monday’s often delayed and ultimately rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. What started out to be the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season became one of the shortest as the 50th Coca-Cola 600 was called after only 227 of the 400 scheduled laps. The race had been delayed from a Sunday night to Monday afternoon start due to persistent rains that plagued the whole weekend, and ultimately brought about the premature ending to the celebrated event.
“I think we had a car capable of running top five if they could have gotten it started again,” said Kenseth. “Right there at the end, I guess we could have taken two (tires) and gambled to get some track position, but we were thinking it was going quit raining. It’s was on and off all day.
“It’s a little frustrating,” added Kenseth. “But there really isn’t anything you can do about the weather.”
Kenseth and the R+L Team started 30th after struggling in Thursday night’s qualifying session. However, the Cambridge, Wis. native needed only 31 laps to move inside the top 20. He moved inside the top 10 on lap 83 and would run the remaining 144 laps of the race there, advancing his No. 17 Ford Fusion to as high as sixth on lap 134.
“Twice we had it too tight, where we were real fast on the short run, and then it just went tight and was junk at the end of the run,” said Kenseth. “The rest of the time we were really too loose and not that good on a short run, but real good at the end of a run. The track tightened up on us a little bit and then we ran all of those caution laps on that last longer run that we had. We weren’t really quite adjusted for that and just got too tight on that last run and lost some of our track position.
“If the race had continued and we would have been able to adjust, I think we could have had a top-five effort today.”
The race was red flagged (stopped) on three different occasions due to rainfall. Kenseth and the team were running in ninth position when the sixth caution of the race was called due to rain. With the rain in the area uncertain, the team opted to pit for four tires and fuel and after a quick stop (12.67 seconds) Kenseth returned to the field in 10th position.
Three cars opted to stay out, including the No. 00 of David Reutimann. The move proved to be the right one, as NASCAR would ultimately be unable to resume the race, and the No. 00 was awarded the win.
The finish was Kenseth’s fifth top-10 of the season and helped move him up one spot to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings. It was also his seventh top-10 finish in 10 Coca-Cola 600 starts. It also marked the ninth top-10 finish in 11 starts for the No. 17 in the green and yellow colors of the R+L Carriers car.
The team returns to action next week at Dover International Speedway where Kenseth finished sixth in his first career Sprint Cup start in 1998. Since then he has accumulated one win, seven top five and 12 top-10 finishes in 20 starts at the ‘Monster Mile.’