Kenseth charges back from two laps down to finish sixth in Richmond. RICHMOND, Va. (May 5, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team put forth an amazing effort in the two day running of the Pontiac Excitement 400 to finish sixth at ...
Kenseth charges back from two laps down to finish sixth in Richmond.
RICHMOND, Va. (May 5, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team put forth an amazing effort in the two day running of the Pontiac Excitement 400 to finish sixth at Richmond International Raceway.
Kenseth and the team were solid all weekend long, with practice times in the top-10. They qualified seventh, but were able to start the race fifth, because two cars had to drop to the back of the field due to engine changes.
Rain delayed the race on Saturday night by almost two hours. When the green flag flew, Kenseth made his way up into the third position. He was battling with the No. 1 car of Steve Park when the two cars collided. Kenseth's car sustained damage to a brake line, and the exhaust system. The DEWALT crew intended to fix the problems when the race was red flagged and postponed due to rain. Kenseth was eighth.
Under NASCAR's rules and regulations, teams are not allowed to work on the cars under the red flag condition. Crew chief Robbie Reiser and the rest of the team were not able to fix the ailing DEWALT Ford until the next day.
Sunday morning, the skies cleared and the Pontiac Excitement 400 restarted shortly after noon.
Kenseth immediately brought the car to the attention of the pit crew to fix the exhaust and brake line. They lost two laps and were 42nd when the green flag flew. But that is where it all began.
Through pit strategy, cautions, and a little luck, Kenseth got his first lap back by passing leader Ward Burton on lap 121. The No. 17 car was fast, but Kenseth said it was tight. So the team made track bar and air pressure adjustments to help Kenseth race to the front.
By lap 284 of the 400 lap event, Kenseth not only regained the two laps he lost, but was in 10th place. He consistently ran lap times as fast as the leaders. Kenseth raced his way up to sixth at the finish, and back to second in the point standings.
"I'm so proud of this team," said Kenseth in a post race interview. "That was a great run. Everybody worked really hard and they did a great job of fixing our problems. They only lost two laps fixing it and we had a lot of stuff to fix. It seems like we overcame all of our problems today and came back to get a top-10 finish out of it. I would have liked to finish better because I thought our car was better than a sixth-place car, but I won't complain too much for how far we were in the back and how far we came."
"That kind of performance is what wins championships," said Robbie Reiser. "We came here with a car capable of winning, had some serious problems that were worse than we originally thought, and got a top-10. Matt is an awesome racecar driver, and this team is amazing. I could not be happier."
Kenseth and the DEWALT Team are now back in second place in the point standings. They are 132 points away from leader Sterling Marlin.
The DEWALT Team will enjoy a weekend off, and then head to Dover for a two day test. They are looking forward to competing in The Winston in two weeks.