Eighth-Place Finish Improves Kenseth’s Chase Standings to 10th
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 19, 2008) – Matt Kenseth has never tried to hide the fact that he’s not particularly fond of racing at Martinsville Speedway. Though prior to today’s Tums QuikPak 500, the Roush Fenway Racing driver had compiled two top-five finishes and five top-10s at the .526-mile oval, including a second-place finish in the spring of 2002, those results came over 17 starts, which more often than not produced disappointing outcomes for Kenseth. So, Kenseth and his No. 17 R+L Carriers team weren’t exactly optimistic heading into today’s 500-lap event at a track that has historically been a struggle. After tight handling conditions caused Kenseth to wreck on lap 114, it looked as though this trip to Martinsville would again be a disappointment. But, in true team 17 fashion, through persistence and determination, Kenseth and company clawed their way back from 39th position, one lap down to capture a solid eighth-place finish, thus improving their Chase standings to 10th place.
Kenseth’s 11th-place starting spot was solidified when the field was set according to Cup owners points after qualifying was canceled for the ninth time this season due to rain. It would take just 28 laps for Kenseth to get a feel for his No. 17 Ford and report that the R+L Carriers machine was “tight.” Kenseth patiently maintained the No. 17 for several laps and when caution fell on lap 60, he made his way to pit road for the first time of the day running in 10th place. After receiving service for four tires, fuel and air pressure and track bar adjustments; Kenseth’s No. 17 was set for more competition. The race restarted on lap 67 and Kenseth was scored in 24th position, as not all competitors opted to pit during this caution period.
Kenseth made his way around the paper clip-shaped oval 47 more times, before handling problems got the better of him. On lap 114, Kenseth’s No. 17 was too tight for him to manage in the tight quarters of the Martinsville corners and he lost control of his machine. Kenseth made contact with the No. 78 during the accident, which caused some rear-end body damage, along with a cut tire. From lap 114 to lap 118, Kenseth saw pit road on two separate occasions so that the No. 17 team could mend his damaged racecar. Green flag racing resumed on lap 121 and Kenseth was scored in 38th position, one lap down to the leaders.
A caution on lap 196 granted Kenseth the Lucky Dog Award and his lap back. On lap 202, Kenseth was scored in 31st place, back on the lead lap. Kenseth was able to work his way back up inside the top 15 after two pit stops during caution periods on laps 256 and 380.
Kenseth was running 11th on lap 457 when caution fell once again and some strategy came into play. With just 13 cars on the lead lap – Kenseth being one of them, he was guaranteed to finish the race in 13th place – providing he wasn’t passed by the leader. Since, he reported being pleased with the handling of the R+L Carriers Ford and his lap times were comparable to the leaders, crew chief Chip Bolin directed Kenseth not to pit on lap 460. Green flag racing commenced on lap 467 and Kenseth was scored as the race leader. He maintained his position for eight laps, but the fresher tires were proving to be beneficial and Kenseth fell back to eighth place by the lap 485 caution.
With just 15 laps remaining in the race, Kenseth brought the No. 17 to pit road for four tires only. The race restarted with eight laps to go and Kenseth was running 10th. Caution once again stalled the race on lap 497 and set the stage for a green, white, checkered finish. Kenseth took the final green flag in eighth place and captured the checkers in eighth as well.
Jimmie Johnson won the Tums QuikPak 500 in a commanding performance on Sunday, leading 339 of 504 laps. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin followed to complete the top five.
Following the eighth-place finish at Martinsville, Kenseth and the No. 17 team improved from 11th to 10th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 408 markers behind point leader Jimmie Johnson.
“As far as the Chase goes, from our standpoint, we are basically mathematically out of it,” Kenseth said. “We haven’t been thinking championship the last two weeks with the problems that we’ve had, so we’re just out there racing as hard as we can and trying to get the best finishes we can.”
The Sprint Cup Series races next at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 26, 2008. ABC television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live broadcast of the Pep Boys Auto 500 beginning at 2:00 p.m. (EST).
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.