Kenseth Rolls to a Win at the Rock ROCKINGHAM, NC (February 24, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth's supposed "Sophomore Slump" is officially over. On Sunday afternoon at North Carolina Speedway, Kenseth and the DEWALT Power Tools crew ended a race where ...
Kenseth Rolls to a Win at the Rock
ROCKINGHAM, NC (February 24, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth's supposed "Sophomore Slump" is officially over. On Sunday afternoon at North Carolina Speedway, Kenseth and the DEWALT Power Tools crew ended a race where they belong - in Victory Lane.
It had been 60 races since the DEWALT crew last saw the winners circle, but to Kenseth it seemed like 160.
"I am so happy right now," said Kenseth with a smile. "I knew we had this in us, it was just a matter of getting it to all fall into place at once. The win in the Coca-Cola 600 seems like it was a lifetime ago."
Kenseth started the Subway 400 in the 25th position. By lap 40 of the 393 lap event, he was in the 8th position. After Kenseth entered the top-10 he never looked back. The No. 17 car was a little bit loose, so the team led by crew chief Robbie Reiser came into the pits on lap 100 to make adjustments. The next pit stop came on lap 146, when Kenseth came onto pit road 5th and was sent back out as the leader.
This would be the case in four separate pit stops on the day. The DEWALT crew demonstrated their championship style as they made adjustments on the No. 17 car, and changed four tires during each stop, keeping Kenseth as the leader and within striking distance of the win all day.
"The pit stops were the key to winning this deal," Kenseth said as he praised his crew. "These guys came out last year and won the Pit Crew championship and showed that it was for real today. You can do one good stop and get lucky anytime, but when you do about 10 in one day, that's something to write about."
"This morning in the team meeting I told the guys if we got all of our stuff together, we had a good car and a shot at the win," added Robbie Reiser. "I am just so proud of this DEWALT team, and everyone at Roush Racing. We worked hard for this, and its awesome to be back in Victory Lane."
Kenseth led the event four times for 152 laps. The only shadow to cast doubt on the possibility of a win came during a late race caution when Kenseth was leading and decided to pit for tires. The No. 32 car of Ricky Craven stayed on the racetrack. Kenseth's crew sent him back out in second place for the restart on lap 368.
Kenseth got shuffled into fourth place due to lapped traffic. By lap 377 he was back up to third, and by lap 386 he passed the No. 18 of Bobby Labonte for second place. Another caution flag flew on lap 389 due to debris on the track as Kenseth drove past Sterling Marlin for the lead. The race ended under caution on lap 393 with Kenseth leading the way to the checkered flag.
"I was pushing really bad on that last set of tires," explained Kenseth. "When that caution came out, I think the 18 and the 40 slowed up or got into oil or something. I am not really sure what happened there. I just know I stayed in the throttle and passed them coming off of turn four.
"Winning at the Rock is something special. It's where I had my first Busch win with Robbie and its a track we usually struggle at in Winston Cup.
"Last night my wife Katie told me my name was going to be (engraved) on the Rock after today's race. I wasn't so sure about that but I felt pretty positive after practice on Saturday, because the car was really good. I could not have done this without my guys today - they were the heat all day. They were just awesome."
Kenseth dedicated the win to his father, Roy, who was not present at the Rock for Sunday's race.
Kenseth and the DEWALT Team will now head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where they will compete for the Winston Million in the No Bull 5 on Sunday, March 3, 2002.