Pocono II: Matt Kenseth preview

Back to Pocono for Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Team After fighting to a 10th-place finish last weekend at the Brickyard 400, Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Race team return to Pocono Raceway. The team finished 16th there in June, losing out on...

Back to Pocono for Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Team

After fighting to a 10th-place finish last weekend at the Brickyard 400, Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Race team return to Pocono Raceway. The team finished 16th there in June, losing out on fuel mileage late, despite running inside the top-five for virtually the entire event.


This will be Kenseth's 20th race at Pocono Raceway, where he has three top-five and eight top-10 finishes and has led a total of 38 laps. His best finish of third came there in the spring of '03. He has led at least one lap in 10 of his 19 races there, including his last four starts.


Kenseth will look for his first win this weekend at Pocono. Pocono is one of 11 active tracks on the circuit where Kenseth has yet to win a Cup race. Kenseth's 18 wins have come at 11 of the active tracks and at Rockingham (where the series stopped racing after 2004). In addition, Kenseth has led at all 22 tracks with the exception of Sonoma, including 38 laps at Pocono. He led six laps there in the spring.


Kenseth's average finish of ninth last season at Pocono was his second best of any season racing at the 2.5-mile track. With his 11th-place run in the fall, he came within one position of finishing both races inside the top 10 for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. The team ran top-five for virtually the entire race at the 2-5-mile track in the spring, but fell victim late to fuel mileage.


After a string of four straight finishes outside the top 15 in June, Kenseth and the team have now finished in the top 10 in two of their last three races this season.


With only six races remaining before the Chase cutoff point, Kenseth remains in 12thposition in the Sprint Cup point standings - the final spot for the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kenseth was able to open up his lead over 13thto 68 points; he trails 11thby 16 points and sixth position by only 89 points. In what is shaping up to be a heated points battle, just 110 points separate ninth position and 13thplace (the first place outside the Chase) as the series heads into the month of August.


"It's the only track we go to with three very distinct turns, and that makes it a very challenging track. You need a lot of horsepower to get down the long straight-aways and you have to have a good handling car to carry that momentum through the turns. The principle is the same at Pocono as anywhere, you have to get through the center of the turn better than the other guys, but the only tracks we go to with more distinctive turns are the road courses.

"We had a solid run last week at Indy, but we were still never able to get the car where we wanted it. The team did a great job in the pits and we had good strategy in the pits. We were better than we had been the few previous weeks, so it's important that we keep building on that and keep improving. It's just harder to find that advantage these days and you just have to have every single thing right and it seems like we've got ourselves a little bit behind, but I know they're working hard on the stuff trying to figure it out and hopefully we'll keep getting better."


* This will be Kenseth's 19th Sprint Cup start at Pocono, where he has three top-fives and eight top-10's.

* Kenseth has finished top 10 in his last three spring races at Pocono.

* Kenseth finished top five in his second career start at Pocono in the fall of 2000.

* Kenseth has led at least one lap in the last three races at Pocono.

* Kenseth's average Pocono finish of 14.3 is eighth amongst active drivers.

* Kenseth has finished top 10 in two of his last three starts this season.

Last Year at Pocono...

8/3/08 - Started: 5th - Finished: 11th

Kenseth started Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 fifth and by midway through the race had picked up three spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, to eighth. But when the weather began threatening, pit strategy came into play and Kenseth's fortunes changed for the worse. A decision not to pit on lap 128 left Kenseth three laps shy of completing the race with just one pit stop -- Kenseth was forced to pit twice, thus losing valuable track position. Kenseth finished 11th at Pocono, but only after a wild shuffle of cars making fuel stops or running out of gas in the race's final laps moved him up from 17th. Despite the respectable finish, Kenseth fell from 11th to 13th in point standings and is currently 11 points out of the 12th place Chase contention.

-credit: rfr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth