Kenseth collected in the big one at Talladega.
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 21, 2002) - For the second time this season in a restrictor plate race, Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team were collected in the accident known as 'The Big One'. This time, the wreck collected 24 cars, with only 25 laps to go in the otherwise green flag, and clean driving race. They finished in the 30th position.
Starting from the back is something Matt Kenseth has been forced to contend with more than he cares for this year. After taking a provisional starting position in Daytona, Kenseth had to start from the back due to engine changes in Atlanta and Texas. This weekend, Kenseth and the team struggled in qualifying on the 2.66 mile superspeedway, and would have to start the Aaron's 499 from the 37th position.
However, during practice throughout the weekend, the No. 17 team showed serious potential knowing as they approached the race anything could happen.
During the green first pit stop on lap 55, Kenseth's team made an air pressure adjustment and changed four tires. Kenseth spent most of the day "three wide" with the rest of the field but maintained the lead draft for the majority of the day.
On lap 47, Kenseth radioed crew chief Robbie Reiser and said the car was not able to perform well on its own in clean air. If there were other cars around him, he could run side by side and be competitive in the draft. He said he was awesome when there were other cars helping him from behind. Kenseth drafted into the lead on two occasions.
Kenseth was leading when he came into the pits again on lap 113. A lug nut fell off of the right front tire making for an extended visit to the pits. Kenseth went back out onto the track in 22nd position. A caution came out on lap 115 and Kenseth decided not to bring his No. 17 car back into the pits. Other teams did, and when the race restarted, Kenseth was the leader again.
The No. 17 car maintained a top 10 position until lap 160, when Kenseth was shuffled back to 25th. When the wreck occurred on lap 166, Kenseth was among the 24 cars collected before it was over.
Kenseth took the mandatory ambulance ride to the infield care center, since he was unable to drive his car to the garage. In the meantime, the DEWALT crew worked feverishly on the heavily damaged No. 17 in an attempt to fix the car and complete as many more laps as they could for points.
As Kenseth walked to his repaired car he told reporters what he saw from the drivers seat. "Tony Stewart and I were running in the outside groove, Tony got on the outside of the 33 car of Mike Wallace. Wallace ran Stewart into the wall so I went to the bottom. I started to slow down thinking everyone else would, and there was so much smoke everywhere. I guess if you slow down here you get run over. I was hit from all sides."
Reiser and the DEWALT team got Kenseth back onto the track for the lap 175 restart. Kenseth was 34th, eight laps down at the time. Kenseth moved his way up to 30th in the remaining laps of the event to the finish.
Kenseth remains second in points, 109 behind leader Sterling Marlin heading to California Speedway. Before arriving in Fontana, the DEWALT team will test at Sears Point Raceway on Tuesday and Wednesday in anticipation for the upcoming road course race in June.