SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2002) -- For a driver who never turned to the right in a race car before 1997, Matt Kenseth sure has come into his own racing on a road course. The 39th place finish in the Dodge / Save Mart 350 tells nothing of the tale...
SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2002) -- For a driver who never turned to the right in a race car before 1997, Matt Kenseth sure has come into his own racing on a road course. The 39th place finish in the Dodge / Save Mart 350 tells nothing of the tale that unfolded for the DEWALT team over the weekend.
Kenseth and the No. 17 team found themselves in the top-15 on the speed charts throughout practice sessions on Friday. They backed the effort up with a sixth place qualifying effort -- their best ever on a road course.
The team was happy with the performance of the No. 17 car, with the AT&T Broadband paint scheme, and knew if they could race smart, there would be a top-10 waiting for them at the finish.
As the race began, Kenseth's car was fast. He moved up to the fifth place and remained there until green flag pit stops began. Matt was running second when he came in the pits on lap 34. The team changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment and sent him back out onto the track. Two laps later, Kenseth said something broke in the rear end of the car. He brought the car behind the wall, and the team discovered the rear end gear broke.
The team replaced it and Kenseth rejoined the race. His lap times were comparable to the leader at the time, but Kenseth was seven laps down. The team had to bring the car in again to change another gear, but by this time, Kenseth was 39th and a total of 20 laps down.
"I am really disappointed in this finish," said Kenseth after the race. "I was so easy on the drive train, and this was our best road course effort ever. All we needed to do was keep it in the top-10. I know we weren't the only ones who had these type of problems, but it still is unfortunate."
Kenseth dropped to eighth in the point standings, 178 out of first place.
The next race on the schedule is the Pepsi 400 under the lights at Daytona International Speedway on July 6th.