Kenseth Battles Back to Respectable Finish in Coke 600 CONCORD, NC (May 27, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools team started the Coca Cola 600 from the 40th position. Kenseth had a disappointing qualifying run setting the...
Kenseth Battles Back to Respectable Finish in Coke 600
CONCORD, NC (May 27, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools team started the Coca Cola 600 from the 40th position. Kenseth had a disappointing qualifying run setting the stage for a challenge to get to the front.
"We changed everything possible on that car after qualifying," said Kenseth. "I have no idea why it ran so bad, but Robbie (Reiser) and the team put in a long day Friday trying to figure out what was happening."
As the defending champion of the race and in observance of Memorial Day, Kenseth was honored to carry the POW/MIA patch in his car in honor of a fallen veteran of the state of North Carolina.
After the green flag dropped, the No. 17 team had their work cut out for them. They started making adjustments to a fairly loose race car during the first pit stop on lap 11. Kenseth said the car was turning great off of the corners but needed to be tightened up a little.
Kenseth impressively charged through the field into the top-20 cars. The team remained on their toes in the pits for the entire 600 miles. They cranked out extremely fast pit stops on laps 52 and 120 advancing Kenseth in the field each time.
The Coca-Cola 600 is famous for ever changing track conditions since the race starts in the daytime and ends well into the night. Kenseth and Reiser felt they had the right setup and combination in the car for when the sun went down.
After a pit stop on lap 193, Kenseth radioed in that he felt like the front tire was loose and the car had a vibration. When the condition worsened, Kenseth was forced to pit under green flag conditions, and lost a lap to the leader on pit road.
After the unfortunate incident, Kenseth battled back each lap -- running lap times as fast or faster than the leaders. Late race cautions bunched the field together allowing Kenseth opportunity to get his lap back.
When the checkered flag flew on the 600 mile event, Kenseth crossed the line 18th, one lap shy of the winner -- Kenseth's Roush Racing teammate, Jeff Burton.
"These guys are my heroes," said Kenseth of his DEWALT team. "They smoked the competition in the pits and got me more positions than I could get on the track. That is what this team is all about. We had a real good car here and I think it just goes to show that there is potential for this team to win some races this year, we just have to have a little luck on our side."
"Matt drove a great race, I can't ask any more from the performance of this team, and our spotter Mike Calinoff did great tonight," commented Reiser. "We'll just get 'em at Dover."
Kenseth is now ranked 13th in the point standings. The team will head to Dover Downs, where they had a second place finish last year.