Kenseth eighth at the Rock ROCKINGHAM, NC (November 3, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Team kept their top-10 streak alive by finishing the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway in the eighth position. Kenseth fought...
Kenseth eighth at the Rock
ROCKINGHAM, NC (November 3, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Team kept their top-10 streak alive by finishing the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway in the eighth position. Kenseth fought an ill handling race car throughout the 393 laps, but held on for the respectable finish behind first time Winston Cup winner Johnny Benson.
Kenseth qualified the car in the 19th position. He was a fixture near the top of the speed charts during practice sessions on Saturday. The team brought the same car that went to Victory Lane in the spring race and it performed equally as well.
Saturday afternoon, the DEWALT crew backed up their "World's Best" status as they won the UNOCAL 76/World Pit Crew Competition with a world record time of 16.832 seconds. The team pocketed $40,000 and bragging rights for another year for their efforts.
When the race began on Sunday, Kenseth began picking off positions almost immediately. It wasn't long before the car was too loose into and off of the corners at the Rock. The first pit stop for the DEWALT crew came on lap 23 when they made a track bar adjustment and gave Kenseth four fresh tires in 13.21 seconds.
Kenseth moved into the top-15 but the car was still loose, so the team took advantage of a green flag pit stop on lap 100. He pulled onto pit road in 12th and went back out of the pits in eighth.
The car was stubborn and although the adjustments made a little difference, Kenseth said that is was starting to push in the middle and was loose off of the corners. Long green flag runs almost put the No. 17 car a lap down, but Kenseth fought the car tooth and nail to remain on the lead lap.
By lap 229 the car was too tight for Kenseth to turn. The team made air pressure and wedge adjustments, and pulled a spring rubber out of the car to help the handling. Matt then drove the car from the 15th position to eighth to finish out the day. He never stopped fighting on the track to move forward. Fuel mileage became a potential factor at the end when it was projected that the No. 17 car would run out of gas with two laps to go. Kenseth conserved enough fuel through the last run of the day to finish without incident.
"We really worked for that one," said crew chief Robbie Reiser. "These guys worked hard for that one, and Matt drove the heck out of that racecar. I could not be happier about this weekend winning the pit crew competition and ending up with a top-10 here at Rockingham."
Matt Kenseth is eighth in the points battle, 340 behind leader Tony Stewart. The series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend for a showdown in the desert with only two races left in the season.