Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Team Come Up Just Short of Top-10 Finish at Pocono LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 3, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team used a combination of pit strategy and solid work on pit road to battle to an 11th-place finish in...
Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Team Come Up Just Short of Top-10 Finish at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 3, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team used a combination of pit strategy and solid work on pit road to battle to an 11th-place finish in Monday's rain-delayed Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. The solid finish moved Kenseth up one spot to 11th in the Sprint Cup point standings, and put him over 100 points ahead of 13th and the first spot outside the Chase playoff.
"The finish was way better than what we ran," said Kenseth after the race. "We didn't run good at all today. In the spring, we ran pretty good here and finished bad, and this time we ran really bad and finished halfway respectable. But, it's just so slow I just couldn't race with anybody, so we just kind of got lucky through pit strategy and had some position there at the end."
In a race that was rained out on Sunday, Kenseth started the race 12th based on the current point standings, as Friday's qualifying session was also rained out. Complaining of a good handling but 'slow' race car, he fell back as far as 18th during the first half of the race. Just before the halfway mark in the race, the team opted to stay out later than the rest of the field to lead a lap and gain five bonus points. Kenseth led lap 92 before coming down pit road for four tires and fuel.
The move would work out, as caution was called just a few laps later on lap 96. Kenseth would stay on track, while the leaders pitted, putting him in third position when the field restarted on lap 101; he would never run lower than 13th the remainder of the race.
Running in 12th position, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer opted for a two-tire stop after the race's eighth caution on lap 166. Kenseth restarted in ninth and drove the car all the way to sixth before the race's ninth caution on lap 174. The Cambridge, Wis. native broke into the top five on lap 179 and restarted there after the race's final caution on lap 180 with 20 laps to go. However the older tires would eventually give in, with Kenseth falling back to 11th position by lap 197.
The finish was Kenseth's third of 11th or better in his last four starts. He now leads teammate Greg Biffle by one point for 11th in the standings and is 102 points ahead of Kyle Busch in 13th. He trails 10th place by 58 points, in a tight points battle that sees just 79 points separate 12th and seventh positions. Five races remain before the cut-off point for the Chase, with the final 'regular season' race being held at Richmond.
"Every finish from Daytona to Richmond is important and we gave away a lot of points, a lot of finishes, all year," said Kenseth. "We do the best we can every week, and hopefully we'll put together enough finishes to get it in (the Chase), but you just can't look to one or two races."
The series travels to Watkins Glen International next weekend for the second and final road course race of the season. Kenseth has finished 12th in his last two starts at the 2.45-mile road course.