LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Feb. 27, 2009) – Matt Kenseth battled a tight race car, covering the 1.5-mile oval Speedway of Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 29.467 seconds (182.143 mph) to qualify his No. 17 USG Ford Fusion 40th for Sunday’s Shelby 427. With the time the team was forced to take a provisional based on owner points from last season.
“We were obviously hoping for a better lap than that,” said crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. “We had expected to qualify somewhere around 15-20th, but the car got a little tight in qualifying. We’ll continue to work with the car during practice tomorrow, and we fully expect that the No. 17 USG Ford will be able to run up front and compete on Sunday.”
Las Vegas natives Kyle (29.033) and Kurt Busch (29.978) qualified first and second for the event.
The starting position is no cause for panic for the No. 17 crew. In two starts this season Kenseth and the No. 17 team have an average starting position of 31.5, but have led 91 laps and won both events. Kenseth won the race from the 25th position in 2004. He finished fourth at Vegas in 2007 after starting 37th.
Kenseth was 26th in the morning practice session, with a fast lap of 29.574 (182.593 mph). In nine starts at LVMS he has two wins, four top fives and five top-10 finishes.
Kenseth, who became only the fifth driver ever to win the first two races of the season, will look to make history this Sunday as he and the No. 17 team attempt to become the first ever team to begin the NASCAR season with three consecutive victories.
Green flag for Sunday’s race is set for 4:46 p.m. (EST) with prerace coverage set for 3:30 p.m. (EST) on FOX.