JOLIET, IL (July 11, 2008) – Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Valvoline Ford Fusion qualified 19th for Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Dollar General 300 at Chicgaoland Speedway. Despite having a car capable of a top five finish, a nearly caution-free race thwarted Kenseth efforts and the Valvoline team finished 17th.
David Reutimann led the 43-car field to the green flag just after 7:00 p.m. (CST) on Friday evening. Kenseth rolled off 19th but made his way inside the top 10 by the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 51.
Reporting the Valvoline Ford was handling “too tight”, Kenseth, in ninth position brought the No. 17 down pit road for four tires and fuel as well as wedge and air pressure adjustments.
However, before the green flag pit cycle would be completed a caution was waved and Kenseth went a lap down to the leader on lap 54. Running in 16th place Kenseth was determined to put the Valvoline Ford back on the lead lap.
His efforts would be upset on lap 62. Racing three-wide, working his way to the front, Kenseth’s No. 17 made contact with another competitor and the Valvoline Ford was sent spinning through the grass. This incident brought out the second caution of the night and sent Kenseth to pit road for four fresh tires and a splash of fuel. Kenseth rejoined the race on lap 67 scored in 22nd position, one lap down.
Over the next 20 laps, Kenseth would race for the “Lucky Dog” position, however the third and final caution fell on lap 88 and Kenseth was just two positions shy of regaining his lap.
For the remainder of the race Kenseth managed to gain several track positions and turn lap times comparable to the leaders. Though, as luck would have it, long green flag runs would prevent him from reclaiming the lost lap and Kenseth would ultimately finish 17th, one lap down.
”This was not the race I was hoping for,” said Kenseth. “We had a top five car, but we could never catch a break. Usually in races you don’t like to see a lot of cautions, but in this race we would have welcomed them. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case today. I’m still proud of P.K. and the guys and their hard work.”