BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 10, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Racing team came from a 31st place starting position to a stellar 15th place finish at the Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon. Cautions plagued the 400 mile event as...
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 10, 2001) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT Racing team came from a 31st place starting position to a stellar 15th place finish at the Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Cautions plagued the 400 mile event as the first yellow flag flew on lap 10. Although it was very early into the race, Kenseth said the car was not driving as it was the day before in practice, and he was 'loose in and tight off the corners'. Kenseth brought his No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford Taurus to the attention of crew chief Robbie Reiser and the team for right side tires and fuel.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 15 and another caution came on lap 16 with Kenseth in the 25th position. The race resumed on lap 22 and was again short lived as another caution occurred on lap 25. While many cars in front of him came into the pits, Kenseth followed the leader and did not pit -- advancing himself to 7th position.
Racing began again on lap 28. Kenseth battled a loose race car and the crew made air pressure, spring, and track bar adjustments during pit stops on lap 41 and 82. On lap 95 Kenseth commented the car was running the best it had been since the race started.
Leaders began pitting for fuel and tires under green flag conditions on lap 127. The DEWALT car took the lead on lap 132 and held it until lap 142. Strategy was the name of the game as Reiser figured the Kenseth could go the distance if the race stayed green, while some of the leaders could not.
Kenseth eventually had to refuel, and lost a lap to the leader when he made a stop. "No matter where we were today we would have tried to use gas mileage to our advantage," said Kenseth in a post race interview. "If we were in the top five I think it would have been more of a gamble, but we were running anywhere from 15th through 20th. It was not much of a gamble from back there. We just thought if it didn't work out we would finish 15th -- like we did -- and if it did work out we would have finished in the top five."
The No. 17 car was in the 12th position when an accident on lap 172 defeated the fuel mileage strategy. The team had a 14.82 second pit stop on lap 175, servicing the DEWALT Ford with four tires and fuel.
Kenseth got his lap back on lap 169 and finished the day in the 15th position, on the lead lap.
"We are happy with the way we finished," said Kenseth. "Compared to the way we have been running we are pretty happy. This DEWALT car was a little better than our 15th place finish today - just the way things worked out got us back there in the pack. At times we were fairly competitive and had a good day on pit road. We had great gas mileage. Overall, we finished the race and gained some points -- it was a pretty positive performance."
Kenseth led the race for 10 laps collecting five bonus points. He moved up to 13th place in the point standings. He is only 40 back from 12th place Bobby Hamilton and 436 points shy of the new series leader, Jeff Gordon.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Pocono International Raceway next week for Father's Day and the Pocono 500.