MATT KENSETH / NO. 17 DEWALT TEAM: MIDTERM REPORT CONCORD, N.C. - Asked to grade to his No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team's performance in the first half of the 2007 season, Matt Kenseth said, "B to B minus." "It's been OK, but I gauge our season...
MATT KENSETH / NO. 17 DEWALT TEAM: MIDTERM REPORT
CONCORD, N.C. - Asked to grade to his No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion team's performance in the first half of the 2007 season, Matt Kenseth said, "B to B minus."
"It's been OK, but I gauge our season on winning championships," said Kenseth. "Right now, we aren't at that level. Sure, we've performed well and we've had a chance to win two races and we did win California, but we aren't at that level yet to where we can compete for a championship. The pit crew gets an 'A,' but myself and the rest of the team have to figure out how to make our cars better."
While the first half of the 2007 season isn't quite as good as 2006, where Kenseth had a series' best 10 top-five finishes in the first 18 races, it isn't too far off of the pace he set in the 2003 season when he went on to win the Winston Cup in Winston's final year of sponsoring NASCAR's elite series.
To this point in 2007, Kenseth has collected one win, six top fives, and 12 top-10 finishes. Compared to the 2003 season where Kenseth scored one win, seven top fives, and a series' best 14 top-10 finishes in the first half.
"Last year we were way ahead compared to where we are now," explained Kenseth. "We were in contention to win a lot of races in the first half. We won two races, and came close to winning at Bristol, Vegas, Texas, and Chicago. It seemed like we were capable of running top five nearly every week last year and we haven't been near that this year. Last year I felt good about our championship hopes, but so far this year we aren't at a championship level."
If Kenseth and the No. 17 team hope to win their second Cup Championship, they'll need to continue to refine their Car of Tomorrow program, considering five of the 10 races during the Chase will be with the new design. In the seven COT races that took place in the first half of 2007, Kenseth managed to score six top-10 finishes, including two top fives.
"Our COT program hasn't been as good as others, but it's just a little bit off," Kenseth said. "We haven't been able to compete for wins with the COT yet, but we've been close a couple times. It's just these cars are so sensitive that it's been a challenge for us to find the balance we need to compete for wins. But, we were pretty close at Dover, we weren't too far off at Darlington, and the 99 car ran really well at Loudon, so I feel like, as a team, we're gaining on it and hopefully we'll peak at the right time."