Kenseth makes late pass for Atlanta win

Under chilly conditions, Matt Kenseth claimed the NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday after getting the lead from defending race-winner Jeff Burton on lap 186 of the scheduled 195-lap event. Despite two...

Under chilly conditions, Matt Kenseth claimed the NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday after getting the lead from defending race-winner Jeff Burton on lap 186 of the scheduled 195-lap event.

Despite two late caution flags, including a red flag period, Kenseth's No. 17 Ford Fusion was able to hold off challenges from Burton's No. 29 Chevrolet to claim his first victory of the 2008 season.

"Most of the day it was a struggle. We were a little bit off. We had to make a lot of changes. It still could have been a little better but it was good enough to get up there," Kenseth said.

Burton was sitting third on lap 171 when leader Kyle Busch cut a right front tire in Turn 1. Busch took home top honors in the Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night and appeared to be well on his way to win number two on the weekend. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led the way with his Toyota dominating 153 laps before bringing out the caution flag.

Kevin Harvick inherited the lead and led the field down pit road for the final round of pitstops under the caution flag. His No. 33 team faltered slightly under the exchange, losing ground to the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 team. Burton took the restart from the top spot with Kenseth trailing a close second.

Once the green flag fell Kenseth quickly pounced for the position, taking just a few laps to complete the pass on lap 186. Once Kenseth moved by, it also opened the door for Harvick to take second.

Laps later a caution flag fell after Dale Earnhardt Jr. made slight contact with the slowing machine of Eric McClure. McClure wrecked, collecting rookie Bryan Clauson. Earnhardt continued the event with right front damage to his Chevrolet.

The race was then red flagged for cleanup on the backstretch following the wreck.

The restart fell on lap 192 but flew once again when David Ragan had troubles with his machine just one lap from the finish. The race was then extended to 198 laps and set up the field for a green-white-checkered flag finish.

Harvick tied to regroup following the pitstop miscue but despite the extra attempts, was unable to lure Kenseth in after he got a stellar jump on the final restart.

"I really thought on the restart we had about a 50/50 chance," Kenseth explained. "I was concentrating on where I was going. I didn't really pay attention to where Kevin was..."

Harvick commented on losing the lead on the final pitstop: "We gave it away on the last pitstop. When you get handed those situations, you have to capitalize on them. I don't think anything happened. It was just slow."

Carl Edwards and Bobby Labonte closed out the top five. Brad Keselowski bounced back after getting wrecked out of the lead just five laps from the finish last weekend in Las Vegas and finished sixth.

Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose complete the top 10.

The 43-car field was lined up via 2007 owners' points after snow flurries canceled the qualifying session this morning.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Marcos Ambrose , Mike Bliss , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Eric McClure , Brad Keselowski , David Ragan , Bryan Clauson , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing