Kenseth Finishes 14th at Michigan; Moves Up in Point Standings BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 16, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT team ran the majority of Sunday's Carfax 400 inside the top five, exhibiting what was arguably one of the top...
Kenseth Finishes 14th at Michigan; Moves Up in Point Standings
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 16, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT team ran the majority of Sunday's Carfax 400 inside the top five, exhibiting what was arguably one of the top four cars in the field. However, a late call by the race leaders to stay out would ultimately backfire, with Kenseth and the team being forced to conserve fuel late and settle for a 14th-place finish.
"At the end of the run, we had to save fuel because everybody was short, so we knew we had to slow down," said Kenseth. "But we weren't as good. About the second or third run we actually got it pretty darn competitive, compared to what we've been -- we were probably the most competitive Ford, at least -- I thought we could've run fifth or sixth, fourth maybe, if everything lined up perfect.
"And from then on as the race kept going, it just kept getting looser and we couldn't get any of our adjustments to work, and just kept getting further off," added Kenseth. "So, the end was the worst we were, but it was still a step in the right direction."
Kenseth, who led on two separate occasions for six laps in the race, was running in sixth position when the race's seventh and final caution was called on lap 157. Kenseth, along with the leaders (No. 48 car of Jimmie Johnson, the No. 5 car of Mark Martin and the No. 83 car of Brian Vickers) opted to stay out and preserve their track position in the front of the field rather than come down pit road for fuel and fresh tires.
In the end, the move would backfire for three of the four, with Kenseth, Martin and Johnson all running out of fuel late. Kenseth ran out at the line, settling for 14th while Martin and Johnson finished all the way back in 31st and 33rd. For Vickers the gamble paid off, as he was able to conserve enough fuel to win the race.
Kenseth had started the race 25th based on Friday's qualifying effort, but wasted little time early powering his No. 17 DEWALT Ford all the way inside the top-10 by the 21st lap. He moved all the way to seventh by the time green flag pitting started on lap 41 and he was able to stay out and lead lap 42, thus picking up five valuable bonus points in the standings.
He would return to the field in sixth position after pitting on lap 44, but retook the lead again on lap 63 just after a restart after the race's second caution. The Cambridge, Wisc. native continued to exhibit a strong car, running inside the top five for virtually the remainder of the race, before staying out under the last caution on lap 157.
Forced to conserve fuel and with the car's handling taking a turn for the worse, Kenseth ultimately dropped from third to 15th. He would move back up to 12th, but lost a couple of positions after running out of fuel just shy of the finish line.
While the finish did not properly reflect the strong effort by Kenseth and the DEWALT Team, it did mark the team's fourth-consecutive top-15 finish and their fifth finish of 14th or better in the last six races.
With only three races remaining until the Chase cutoff off point, Kenseth moved up one position to 11th. As the series moves into the 24th race of the 26-race 'regular' season, Kenseth and the No. 17 team are only 34 points out of ninth and just 32 points ahead of 13th (the first spot not in the Chase.) In a heated battle that sees only 108 points separate seventh and 13th positions, Kenseth trails 10th by just 10 points and ninth by 34 points.
The series moves to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway next week, where the teams will race under the lights on Saturday night in one of the most anticipated races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.