Kenseth Has Been Stellar In NASCAR's Longest Race No. 17 driver looks forward to challenge of 600-mile event CONCORD, N.C. (May 21, 2009) -- Roush Fenway Racing's Matt Kenseth lists this weekend's 600-lap marathon at Lowe's Motor Speedway as one...
Kenseth Has Been Stellar In NASCAR's Longest Race
No. 17 driver looks forward to challenge of 600-mile event
CONCORD, N.C. (May 21, 2009) -- Roush Fenway Racing's Matt Kenseth lists this weekend's 600-lap marathon at Lowe's Motor Speedway as one of his favorite events on the circuit, and why not? Kenseth captured the first of his 18 Sprint Cup wins in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600. After that he went on to finish runner up in two of the next three 600-mile races, leading 137 laps in his first four 600s.
"It's probably my favorite event of the year," said Kenseth. "We won our first race here (at Lowe's Motor Speedway) in the 600, so that makes it kind of special for us. It used to be the only race of the year when you'd start in the day when it was usually hot and sunny, and you'd end at night.
"It's usually a challenge to start during the day and end at night," added Kenseth. "Although a lot of tracks have kind of copied that since then, it used to be the only one that did that, so there are a lot of challenges that go with it and it's always interesting to be halfway decent at the beginning and still have a car that will handle right at the end."
Kenseth and his No. 17 crew at Roush Fenway Racing have time and again risen to the unique challenge. In nine 600 starts, Kenseth, who will pilot the No. 17 R+L Carriers Ford this Sunday night, has scored one victory, two runner up finishes, six top-10 (67 percent) and five top-five (56 percent) finishes.
In addition, Kenseth has led a lap in eight of his nine Coca-Cola 600 starts. The veteran, who came just a lap and a half short of winning last week's Sprint All-Star race, finished seventh in the 600 last year. He says there is no easy secret for success in the 600-mile race.
"You try to stay on the lead lap and survive," said Kenseth. "It's the longest event of the year, so it's just one I always look forward to. It was always a real challenge, especially before they re-paved the track and it was real bumpy and stuff. It was a real challenge to hang onto your car early in the day and still have it adjusted right where it would run fast at night. To be any good at night, you had to be super-loose and sideways during the day and it was just always such a big challenge.
"I do everything pretty much the same as normal," added the 2009 Daytona 500 winner. "If it's forecasted to be hot, I'll probably make sure I'm even more hydrated than normal. I'll drink a lot of Gatorade the days upcoming to the race and during the race I'll take in more fluids than I usually do. That's about it. I always try to get a lot of sleep and try to eat good the day before the race and be hydrated."
Kenseth, who will try and add to his impressive resume at the Coca-Cola 600, said he is encouraged by what he saw in the racing in last Saturday's All-Star race.
"I don't think I've ever seen three cars run three-wide through the corner at Charlotte ---- going that fast," said Kenseth. "I've been encouraged the last few weeks and we are looking forward to getting out there in the R+L Carriers Ford on Sunday night."