LONG POND, Pa. (June 17, 2001) - Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools team charged to a sixth place finish at Pocono Raceway. The finish was the team's third top 10 of the 2001 season.
Kenseth was disappointed with the 31st place qualifying effort for the Pocono 500. "That lap was just not as good as we can run here," stated Kenseth in a post qualifying interview.
Practice paid off throughout the weekend as the DEWALT team improved on the setup. They were strong in long runs and fast on older tires.
The fog and clouds lifted just in time for the start of the Pocono 500. Early on, the No. 17 car was loose as Kenseth hung on for position. The first caution of the day came on lap 11. Kenseth brought his Ford to the attention of the crew on lap 13 to pull a spring rubber out of the right rear.
The car was still extremely loose when a NASCAR mandated caution flew on lap 25. Kenseth and crew chief Robbie Reiser decided to have the over the wall team make track bar and air pressure adjustments to tighten the car up.
By lap 51 of the 200 lap event, Kenseth had wheeled his way into the 20th position. A huge wreck involving multiple cars occurred in front of Kenseth. Taking the high line, Kenseth drove through a cloud of smoke, escaping damage.
As the race wore on the car improved tremendously and the team moved into the top 10. Kenseth stopped for tires and fuel on lap 122. The car was handling well and required no adjustments.
For the remainder of the event, Kenseth remained in the top 10, gaining positions and reeling in the leaders with each lap. He brought home the DEWALT Ford Taurus in sixth place.
"This was a really good run for this team," said Kenseth. "Pocono is one of my favorite tracks. I thought if we might have something to get a top five, but I got held up there at the end by some lapped cars. Towards the end when I got behind cars in dirty air I was loose. We should have tightened the car up a bit on that last pit stop, but it was coming in so good on the longer runs, we just didn't want to touch it."
"Matt Kenseth is one heck of a race car driver," said Reiser after the race. "He really did good out there today. Smart driving. It was a good day."
"I think this is what we needed going into Sears Point," Kenseth added. "We tested there this spring and were really happy with the results. It should be a good race for us."
The DEWALT team advanced one place in the point standings to 12th. They will head to Sonoma, California next weekend to face the first of two road courses on the 2001 schedule.