- Kenseth takes win 1st time in new NNS car
- Edwards fades at the end, takes 2nd
- Stenhouse Jr. unable to catch Busch for 3rd
One NASCAR Nationwide race all Kenseth needed for win
In a one-race substitute role for Trevor Bayne, Matt Kenseth piloted the No. 16 car of Roush Fenway Racing into victory lane following the Top Speed 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. The race was Kenseth’s first in the new generation Nationwide car.
“It really wasn’t easy (learning the new car),” Kenseth said in victory lane. “But the car was really fast.”
To capture his 26th-career series win, Kenseth had to hold off one of his Roush Fenway teammates, Carl Edwards.
“I got a little bit tight.
“It was intense,” Kenseth said of his late-race battle with Edwards. “We had new tires, and I could see him fading a little bit.
Kenseth, along with most of the rest of the field, pitted under a caution that came out for debris with 51 laps to go. Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler opted to stay out.
According to Edwards, he was unable to keep up with Kenseth after losing the lead to him for the final time because of the handling of his race car.
“I got a little bit tight," Edwards said.
While Edwards had enough fuel to battle his teammate to the checkered flag, Kahne and Leffler ran out of fuel in the final 10 laps.
The Roush Fenway Racing trio of Kenseth, Edwards and Stenhouse combined to make Saturday a dominating day for RFR. All three drivers started in the top-five, with Stenhouse Jr. on the pole, Kenseth starting third and Edwards fifth.
Between the three drivers, RFR led all of the first 25 laps prior to a competition caution that came out after the completion of lap 25. Kevin Harvick became the first non-Roush driver to lead the race when he took only two tires to restart in the top spot.
Kyle Busch, who took four on lap 25, assumed the lead on lap 61 and led throughout the remainder of the first half of the race.
Kenseth took over, though, around the halfway point of the race and dominated throughout the second half. He fell back to fifth on the restart following the caution with 51 to go, but he was the highest-running driver of those who pitted for four.
He quickly made his way up to second to battle teammate Edwards for the lead. In the late-going, Edwards and Kenseth swapped the lead a couple of times before Kenseth took the lead for good with three laps to go.
Stenhouse Jr., meanwhile, lost even more ground than Kenseth under that final round of pit stops when his team had a problem with a lug nut. As a result, Stenhouse Jr. restarted outside the top-10 with under 50 laps to go. He made his way back into the top-five in the late going to finish fourth, right behind third-place finisher, Busch.
“It wasn’t as good as we wanted, obviously,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “We couldn’t quite get that one spot to make it a one-two-three for us (RFR).”
Reed Sorenson rounded out the top-five.
Elliott Sadler was able to maintain the points lead with a 10th-place finish, but Stenhouse Jr. gained ground on him, closing to within a point in the second position. Sorenson is now third in points, just two points out of first.