Loudon, NH (July 16, 2012) – The New England region of the country has become another home-away-from-home for Roush Fenway Racing in recent years thanks to the teams merger with Fenway Sports Group, and along the way, the area boasts a high concentration of loyal followers. For driver Matt Kenseth and his No. 17 team, they had primary sponsorship from NESN (The New England Sports Network) this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. The one-mile flat track is a challenge for drivers since it has limited space to pass and cars can be a handful when it comes to figuring out handling. Kenseth fought both loose and tight conditions throughout the race and ended up finishing 13th Sunday afternoon.
Kenseth began the 301-lap race from the 27th starting position and within the opening run, he drove his way from 27th up to 14th in the NESN Ford. Kenseth radioed in to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the No. 17 Ford was “nagging tight” in the center but the entry and exit of the turns were pretty strong overall. The first round of green flag pit stops began to cycle through the field around lap 64, and Fennig called his driver into the pits on lap 68 for four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments.
The first caution of the day came on lap 90 for debris and once again, Kenseth took the opportunity to tell his team about his car’s handling. Kenseth told Fennig that overall the handling didn’t seem too bad, but that his No. 17 machine was a tick slow across the center. Fennig made the call to take two tires, fuel, and air adjustments on the stop before Kenseth restarted 13th.
During the next run, Kenseth told his team that following the two-tire stop, the NESN Ford was tight in the middle of Turn 3 and 4, and that the tires were chattering with the car feeling more aero-sensitive overall. Another round of green-flag stops cycled and Fennig opted for four tires, fuel, and air adjustments on the stop. A threat of rain in the area threatened to shorten the race, but the increased cloud cover may have been to blame for the changing track conditions Kenseth was fighting. The No. 17 NESN Ford became increasingly tight in the center and also started to get loose off as the laps went on.
Despite working his way into the top ten a few times during the race, Kenseth crossed the stripe 13th after the NESN Ford became way too loose in the final segment of the race for the driver to challenge for track position.
“We didn’t have one of the best cars today,” commented Kenseth after the race. “It seems we struggle here as a company a little, but we were pretty good in the beginning of the race today. We just could never get our NESN Ford good enough to run with the real good guys up front, so then it’s really about pit stop strategy and restarts. We got it back there at the end, and were faster than the three or four cars in front of me, but I just couldn’t figure out how to pass them.”
Kasey Kahne earned the win Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. Kahne led the final 66 laps of the race and was able to hold off a late-race charge from Denny Hamlin who earned the runner-up position, while Clint Bowyer rounded out the top three finishers.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will have the weekend off from competition but will return to action the following week when the series travels to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard. Pre-race television coverage begins on Sunday, July 29th at 12:00 p.m. EST on ESPN. Radio coverage will be provided by Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile)
Sunday, July 29, 2012