BROOKLYN, MI (August 18, 2002) -- In a solid attempt to back up the win at Michigan International Speedway in June, Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Team were candidates for Victory Lane for most of the Pepsi 400, but ended up 11th. Throughout the ...
BROOKLYN, MI (August 18, 2002) -- In a solid attempt to back up the win at Michigan International Speedway in June, Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Team were candidates for Victory Lane for most of the Pepsi 400, but ended up 11th.
Throughout the weekend, Kenseth was not only on the top of his game, but on the top of the speed charts. With the car that won in June, Kenseth and the boys felt confident they could make it two in a row.
Shortly after the race started, Kenseth began to move through the field. The first caution flag flew early, as eventual race winner Dale Jarrett took a ride through the frontstretch grass. Kenseth pitted his car, taking on two tires and fuel. The racing resumed on lap 14 and Kenseth broke into the top-10 on lap 17. He was fifth at lap 25 and brought the No. 17 car into the pits again on lap 29.
Kenseth continued the charge and passed Kevin Harvick on lap 63 for second place. The DEWALT Ford chased down Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s Chevrolet until he had to pit under the green flag on lap 78. The DEWALT crew had a 14.4 second pit stop and sent Kenseth out on the track with the lead when the field cycled through. Kenseth led until lap 89 when Dale, Jr. passed the No. 17. Kenseth told crew chief Robbie Reiser the car was loose, and he was going as fast as he could with the car.
On lap 127 the DEWALT crew pulled off a 13.7 second stop and sent Kenseth out on the track with the lead again. As the race wore on, Kenseth stayed strong on the track. Fuel mileage became a concern, as the No. 17 would be 11 laps short if the race stayed green until the end. On lap 143 the team changed two tires and filled the car with fuel. The handling of the car went south, as Kenseth radioed in he was tight and began to lose ground on the track. He fell to 10th.
The crew capitalized on the opportunity to fix the ill handling race car on lap 164 as they changed four tires and made a track bar adjustment. Unfortunately, the stop buried Kenseth deep in the field, because the cars ahead took on two tires. Kenseth had to battle back from 18th place to the front. When the final caution came, 12th running Kenseth pitted for four tires and fuel because the car needed a major air pressure adjustment. The decision was made because the car was so bad, Matt felt he would lose more positions had they gone to the end with it.
He went back out onto the track in 22nd position and worked his way up to 11th. The finish was not exactly what the team had in mind, but according to the driver, it could have been a lot worse.
"I don't know what happened there," said Kenseth after the race. "We had a good run going then it went way bad. We were loose and tight and couldn't figure out what was going wrong. I definitely think something broke in the motor at some point. We made our way back to 11th, but it was a much better car than that."
Kenseth is ninth in the point standings after 23 races - 295 points behind leader Sterling Marlin.