DARLINGTON, SC (May 10, 2008) – With a new racing surface to figure out and speeds higher than the track had ever seen, Matt Kenseth and the CitiFinancial team anticipated that the Nationwide Series’ return to Darlington Raceway would be a learning experience. The No. 17 team looked as if they would escape without even a Darlington stripe until a loose wheel and a late-race wreck ended Kenseth’s night early.
Kenseth started eighth but quickly moved up through the field. Up to fourth on lap 29, Kenseth told crew chief Drew Blickensderfer that the car had gotten “really, really tight in the last five laps.” A long green flag run set in and green flag stops began on lap 55. After deciding on an air pressure and track bar adjustment for the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion, Blickensderfer called Kenseth down pit road on lap 60. The field cycled through and Kenseth was back in sixth on lap 66.
When the caution fell on lap 73, Kenseth said the “front tires need more grip.” Kenseth came in and received a wedge adjustment and enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion restarted sixth with 69 laps left. Kenseth was running fifth when the next caution flew on lap 85. Blickensderfer elected to keep Kenseth out on the track. When the rest of the leaders came down pit road, Kenseth moved up and restarted as the leader on lap 95.
Kenseth began voicing concern about a vibration and a possible loose wheel. Kenseth held onto the lead but said the vibration was getting worse. Not wanting to take any chances, Kenseth gave up the lead and came down pit road under green on lap 121. The CitiFinancial team gave Kenseth four fresh tires and sent him back on the track one lap down.
With the laps winding down, Kenseth was fighting for position, vying to be the first car one lap down. Racing hard off of turn four, Kenseth lost control and the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion spun and hit the inside wall. The car suffered extensive damage and Kenseth was unable to return to the race. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion finished 28th.
“We just had a loose wheel while we were leading and we had to pit because it was getting ready to fall off,” said Kenseth. “When we came back out, I was just driving way over my head to somehow try to get back in the race. We were a lap down and I was trying to catch up where I thought the lucky dog was and I just let it get away from me. I was frustrated and mad at the moment and driving a little faster than I knew the car would take me and it just got away from me.”
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. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com.