Darlington, SC (Sept. 2, 2002) ---- Darlington Raceway is known for being a track too tough to tame. Unfortunately for the DEWALT Racing Team and driver Matt Kenseth, the track lived up to its reputation. The race weekend was plagued with rain,...
Darlington, SC (Sept. 2, 2002) ---- Darlington Raceway is known for being a track too tough to tame. Unfortunately for the DEWALT Racing Team and driver Matt Kenseth, the track lived up to its reputation.
The race weekend was plagued with rain, forcing qualifying for the Mountain Dew Southern 500 to be gridded by point standings, putting the #17 DEWALT Ford in 9th spot.
Despite a few showers Saturday morning, the Winston Cup cars were able to take to the track for practice laps. Matt Kenseth grabbed the 2nd fastest lap in the first practice session and was in the top ten again in the second session. The team was confident they would have a good run in the 500-mile race on Sunday.
Rain again played havoc with the schedule on raceday. The start of the race was delayed for just under 2 hours, with the green flag waving at 2:45 PM.
Kenseth moved up to 7th position in the early laps, before settling into 11th spot, fighting a tight handling race car. After several stops to loosen up the car, Matt was running in 15th position and thinking the team might have gone too far in correcting the tight condition, as now the car was getting pretty loose. Matt slid back to 18th spot before caution flew on the raceway on lap 153 and Kenseth came back into the pits for adjustments. The handling of the car seemed to improve and Matt began making up some ground on the track. By lap 225, Kenseth was running in 12th spot with a very strong race car.
On lap 233, Kenseth got loose coming off Turn 4 and hit the outside wall, causing severe damage to the right front of the car. Matt immediately took the DEWALT Ford behind the wall for repairs. The #17 crew changed the entire front-end assembly in just 30 laps and sent Kenseth back out onto the raceway in 38th position. Kenseth was unable to gain one position, passing Mike Skinner, before the checkered flag dropped.
"I was just trying to go fast and just lost control coming off of Turn 4," stated Kenseth. "The car was very loose most of the race and I guess I was just trying a little too hard. The guys did a great job, repairing the car so quickly. I've had some good runs at Darlington, unfortunately today wasn't one of them."
Kenseth finished in 37th spot and moved back one position in the point's standings to 10th, 394 points behind leader Sterling Marlin. The next stop on the Winston Cup circuit is Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 7, under the lights at 7:30 PM (EST).