TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2009) – Matt Kenseth returned to the Nationwide Series at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the first time since 2001. Kenseth stayed out of trouble for most of the race, fought an overheating issue and looked poised for a top-10 finish when his day ended 16 laps early. Contact with Roush Fenway Racing teammate David Ragan sent the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion tumbling down the backstretch and Kenseth recorded a 35th place finish.
Kenseth qualified third and was running solidly in the top 10 when he reported the water temperature had soared to 280 degrees and was spitting water on lap seven. Kenseth said he needed to lay back and find clean air. Unable to draft, the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion dropped to the end of the field. Kenseth kept an eye on the temperature gauge and hoped for a caution so the team could pull tape off the grille and cool the engine.
No caution came out and the field reached the end of a fuel run under green. Crew chief Eddie Pardue brought Kenseth down pit road on lap 39 for two tires and the team pulled a large section of grille tape. When the pit stops cycled through the field, the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was in the lead. Kenseth was third when the first caution of the day came out on lap 54. Still running hot and unable to draft, Kenseth asked for more tape to be pulled. The CitiFinancial team gave Kenseth four fresh tires and removed the rest of the tape.
The next caution fell on lap 87 and Kenseth told Pardue he was still running hot. “The chassis is good, I just can’t do anything,” he said. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion came in on lap 89 for fuel only and the CitiFinancial team cleaned off the grille to make sure there was no debris blocking the flow of air. Kenseth restarted seventh with 25 laps left in the race.
Kenseth was running second as the field raced down the backstretch on lap 104. Kenseth moved up a lane to block a charge from Kyle Busch and came back to the low line in front of Ragan. Ragan got into the back of Kenseth, lifting the rear wheels off the ground and sending Kenseth flipping down the track. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion rolled four times and caught on fire before coming to a rest. Kenseth was able to walk away from the wreckage but the day was cut short for the CitiFinancial team.
“Kyle had a run and I tried to block to the top but couldn’t get up there in time,” said Kenseth. “I pulled to the bottom and I saw David there but I was well clear. David hit me as I was turning back down and bump drafted me and you just can’t hit someone as they’re turning, the cars aren’t stable enough for that. I felt David hit me and then the car just spun out. I was just hanging on hoping I landed right side up.”
The No. 16 team dropped to eighth in Owner Points, 163 behind the leader.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating nine motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; three in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun; and one in the Camping World Truck Series with Braun.