JOLIET, Ill. (July 15, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Power Tools team overcame a disappointing qualifying run and ill handling race car to tame a new track and bring it home 7th in the Tropicana 400. Practice times throughout the weekend...
JOLIET, Ill. (July 15, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Power Tools team overcame a disappointing qualifying run and ill handling race car to tame a new track and bring it home 7th in the Tropicana 400.
Practice times throughout the weekend demonstrated how strong a contender Kenseth would be in the race. Unfortunately, an early qualifying draw and the changing conditions of the new 1.5 mile track were key players in the 37th place starting position.
When the green flag dropped on the inaugural event at the Chicagoland Speedway, Kenseth radioed to crew chief Robbie Reiser the No. 17 car was loose. The DEWALT team made air pressure and track bar adjustments to tighten the car up during pit stops throughout the day. Kenseth was also better on scuffed tires rather than sticker tires due to the lack of grip on the new track.
Kenseth battled all day long to keep the car within striking distance of the top 10. Pit strategy came into play when a caution flag flew with 40 laps to go and Kenseth stayed on the track. When the race resumed he was in second place.
Two late race cautions brought the field of cars together setting the stage for a shootout to the finish. With just five laps to go, Kenseth held off the charge of cars behind him with fresh tires to snag the 7th position.
"That was a great run for this team," stated Kenseth. "We came from a provisional to a top 10 finishing position. We worked hard to get there though. I thought we were in trouble at the beginning because there was no second groove to pass since the track is new. We knew we'd have to rely on good pit stops and make some smart decisions. The guys did great in the pits my spotter Mike Calinoff did a great job, and I held on to the end."
"We'll take seventh," said Robbie Reiser in a post race interview. "It's not first, but considering the struggles we've had this year we are pretty happy to be on the upswing. We want to keep it in the top 10."
The finish marks the fourth top-10 for the No. 17 team and advances them to 11th place in the Winston Cup Championship point standings. Next week the team travels to New Hampshire International Speedway.