WATKINS GLEN, NY (August 8, 2008) – Matt Kenseth is not usually thought of as a road course specialist, but after Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International he is one step closer. Kenseth finished third in the No, 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion; his highest career finish at the track.
It looked like Montreal all over again on Friday as bad weather set in and the teams were given rain tires for practice. The teams were able to avoid a repeat when the track dried off enough to give the Nationwide Series cars a full practice session. Kenseth was happy with the No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion during that practice and the team made minimal changes to the car. Kenseth qualified 16th but felt that he would have a top 10 car for the race.
When the race started, Kenseth quickly began his march to the front. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was up to 11th when the caution fell on lap 11 and crew chief Pierre Kuettel brought his driver down pit road for the first time. Not needing any adjustments, the team gave Kenseth four tires and fuel and sent him back on the track. Shortly after the restart Kenseth broke into the top 10 for the first time. He was running ninth when the caution fell on lap 21 and he told Kuettel the car had gotten “terrible tight” and was “plowing everywhere.” Needing a few more laps to make it into a fuel window, Kuettel kept Kenseth out under the caution period. He restarted ninth on lap 26.
The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was 11th when the next caution flew on lap 40. Close to being able to make it to the end of the race on fuel, Kuettel brought Kenseth down pit road for four tires and a slight air pressure adjustment. Kenseth said he was “still tight” but “better on the long runs.” He restarted 17th just past the halfway point in the event.
The new tires and air pressure adjustment agreed with Kenseth and he quickly worked his way back to the front of the field. He was back up to eighth on lap 49 when he told the crew he was “still a little tight but a lot better.” With pit strategy working in their favor, Kenseth was up to third on lap 53. Multiple late race cautions allowed Kenseth to save enough fuel to make it to the end of the race without stopping again. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion looked poised for a fifth place finish when the first and second place cars ran out of fuel on the closing laps, allowing Kenseth to tick up two spots to third.
“It was a good day for us,” said Kenseth. “That was the best we’ve run on a road course for sure. I wasn’t as fast as the top few cars but I could hold my own with the other guys. P.K. and all the guys did a great job this weekend. Other than one run in the middle of the race, the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was pretty good all day. It was a lot of fun.”
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.