Indianapolis, Ind. (July 27, 2008) - Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend with high hopes for a solid finish in Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. After being among the fastest cars in each of the weekend’s practice sessions and laying down a respectable qualifying effort of 10th place it looked as though the No. 17 team were headed for another top-10 finish. However, a rough track and a stubborn tire that refused to cooperate made the race at the Brickyard a series of NASCAR-imposed, precautionary pit stops and broke the racing into 10- or 12-lap dashes. Despite the precautions, a blown right rear tire on lap 46 – one lap shy of the competition yellow demolished the right side of Kenseth’s Ford and sent him to the garage for several laps. After the DEWALT Ford was patched up, Kenseth rejoined the race 16 laps down to the leaders to make the most of day. He would ultimately finish the race in 38th place.
Jimmie Johnson led the 43-car field to green at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon and Kenseth followed in 10th position. Tires were on everyone’s mind at the start of the race as all competitors experienced tire troubles during the weekend’s practice sessions. NASCAR and Goodyear agreed to have a mandatory caution after 10 laps to allow teams to check tire wear as a safety precaution.
The field didn’t make it 10 laps – as a single-car accident brought out the first caution on lap five. NASCAR moved the competition yellow to lap 14. But, just one lap shy of the mandated caution another accident occurred and the mandatory caution went into effect one lap later on lap 15.
In eighth place, Kenseth reported that he was overall pleased with the handling of the DEWALT Ford as he made his way down pit road for two fresh right side tires. Despite a speedy pit stop, Kenseth rejoined the race on lap 17 in ninth place, as not all competitors opted to pit.
After examining the tires of competitors, NASCAR mandated a second precautionary stop for lap 32, and then lowered it to lap 30. However, once again the caution was brought out earlier due to an on-track incident resulting from a blown tire.
Kenseth made his way down pit road for the second time of the race on lap 32 for four fresh tires and fuel. Following his pit stop, crew chief Chip Bolin informed Kenseth that his right side tires were severely worn and err on the side of caution during the next run.
Once again, the mandatory caution lap was one lap away when Kenseth blew a right rear tire and spun down the backstretch. The impact from the blown right tire sent rubber and fender pieces flying and destroyed the right side of the DEWALT Ford. Kenseth went to the garage where the No. 17 team thrashed to repair the damaged Ford. After several minutes the team had bandaged up the DEWALT Ford and Kenseth returned to the track in 40th place, 16 laps down to the leaders.
Though Kenseth managed to gain two positions, he would limp the No. 17 around the track for the rest of the day. In the end, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson held off Roush Fenway Racing driver, Carl Edwards to capture the win at the Brickyard. Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler and Jeff Gordon followed to complete the top five.
“I could see in the mirror that part of the quarter panel was blown off,” Kenseth said of the damaged incurred during the blown-tire incident. “It’s a really, really, really disappointing situation. This one of the two biggest races of the year, and to never have this tire here before and not come and do an open test and to work on these things and work on the tires, it’s pretty darn disappointing. We had a great car today. I feel bad for the fans; we’re running three-quarters speed because we’re worried of the tires blowing out, and they got blown out every eight laps. So, pretty disappointed.”
The disappointing finish for Kenseth and company dropped their points standing from eighth to 11th - 638 points behind the leader, Kyle Busch and 33 points out of 10th place.
Kenseth and the No. 17 crew will return to Pocono Raceway next weekend for the Pennsylvania 500. ESPN television and MRN radio affiliates will broadcast the race live beginning at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, August 3.
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, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; 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.