Kenseth wins Dover on pit strategy

Kenseth wins Dover on pit strategy

By Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent

Story Highlights

  • RFR gets 3rd 2011 win
  • Martin holds on for second
  • Ambrose takes third

Call for two tires leads to Sprint Cup win at Dover for Kenseth

Four tires may generally be the right call, but two got the job done for Matt Kenseth on Sunday when he took the win in the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speeds NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway.

Kenseth was among a handful of drivers who took only two tires after Juan Montoya spun to bring out a caution with 39 laps to go. Other drivers taking two included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers and Macros Ambrose.

According to crew chief Jimmy Fennig, the decision to take two was Kenseth’s.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

“That was all Matt there,” Fennig said. “He figured we needed to have clean air and he called two tires, and we did two and away we went.”

Kenseth, on the other hand, said it was a compromise between none and four.

“Honestly, I was sitting on the track and thinking that we should stay out and get clean air and try it, because I knew we wouldn’t win if we took four,” Kenseth said. “Jimmy wanted four, but as I was driving down pit road, I thought maybe we could compromise.”

Mark Martin was the lone driver to stay out and restarted in the lead. Martin was soon passed by Kenseth, but he was able to maintain second position for the final laps of the race to post a runner-up finish after running around 15th most of the day.

... I knew we wouldn’t win if we took four.

Matt Kenseth

“Kudos to (crew chief) Lance McGrew,” Martin said. “We ran good but we were getting ready to finish 15th again.”

Ambrose and Vickers were able to drive their two fresh tires to top-five finishes with Ambrose finishing third and Vickers fifth.

“It was a great day and a really good call for two tires there at the end,” Ambrose said. “I had a fast car today and we just lost a little track position.

Kyle Busch was the highest finishing driver of those who took four on the last stop. He finished fourth.

Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards dominated most of the race, with Johnson leading 200 laps of the 400-lap event. Johnson and Edwards combined to lead all but 11 of the first 331 laps.

Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

“It was feeling good there for a little while,” Edwards said. “I thought we were going to win this thing.”

Their dominance up front ended when Clint Bowyer beat them off pit road under caution on lap 331. Bowyer held the lead until the sixth and final caution of the day with 39 to go when pit strategies started to vary.

Bowyer was among those who took four on that final stop and as a result restarted in the eight spot. He was able to get past a couple of cars in the closing laps to finish sixth. After restarting ninth, Edwards also made up a couple of spots to finish seventh. Johnson wound up finishing ninth after restarting in the 11th spot.

Race Results and current Championship Standings

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing
Tags ford, marcos ambose, mark martin, matt kenseth, roush fenway racing, sprint cup