Down to One: Judgment Day Here in Race for Chase The 2009 race for the Chase comes down to one race, as Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team head to Richmond International Raceway looking to keep their Chase streak in tact in one final...
Down to One: Judgment Day Here in Race for Chase
The 2009 race for the Chase comes down to one race, as Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team head to Richmond International Raceway looking to keep their Chase streak in tact in one final showdown at the .75-mile oval known for racing excitement.
ONE TO GO: RACE FOR CHASE GOES TO WIRE FOR KENSETH, NO. 17 DEWALT TEAM
It all comes down to one final race at Richmond, as Kenseth attempts to keep his perfect streak of Chase appearance alive. The team heads to Richmond just 20 points ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers and 37 points ahead of 14th-place Kyle Busch. He trails 11th-place Greg Biffle by 48 points, but is only 76 points out of sixth and just 49 behind 10th. It would take a finish of second or better, while leading a lap for Kenseth to guarantee a spot in the chase. Kenseth's 11.83 average finish in the last six races ranks fifth amongst the 12 drivers currently in the Chase, as well at 13th and 14th positions.
KENSETH AT RICHMOND
Kenseth will start his 19th race at Richmond International Speedway this weekend, where he has accumulated top-10 finishes in almost half of his starts (9). Kenseth has an average finish of 15 at the 3/4-mile track where he made his first start in May of 2000. However, he has finished outside the top 10 in his last three starts there.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Kenseth has an average finish of 18.2 in races at Richmond leading up to the Chase. In five starts in the final pre-chase race he has posted one top five, two top 10's and three top 15's. Last season he was caught up in a wreck and finished 39th, dramatically reducing his average finish.
While not flashy, the No. 17 team has remained consistent down the stretch run to the Chase. Kenseth has finished top 14 in the last six races with an average finish of 11.83 and two top 10's since Indianapolis.
"Richmond is great race track and I'm sure there will be a lot of excitement there this Saturday night for this race. It's fast and small and the fans have a great view of the action. Since it's became the last race before the Chase it has made it even more exciting there and I'm sure everyone is in for a great race on Saturday.
"We are going to go in there this weekend and do whatever we can to get in that Chase. It all comes down to this race, but we've had 25 other races that have us in the position we are now. We'll go out and do all we can to run up front and win the race, and that is what we do each week. We've just been a little off lately and we have to find out what we need to get over that hump.
"We just want to run good and run back up front where I know we belong. We have the type of people that make up a championship caliber team on the No. 17. We've been steady down the stretch, but we are capable of much better. We are concentrated on getting in that Chase, but more important than that we are searching for ways to get this team back up front and leading laps and contending for wins. When you do that all the other stuff tends to fall in line."
* This will be Kenseth's 19th Cup start at RIR, where he has an average finish of 15.0
* Kenseth has completed 96.8 of his laps attempted in Cup races at Richmond.
* Kenseth has finished top 10 in 50 percent of his 18 starts at Richmond.
* Kenseth has led 192 laps in eight of his 19 starts at RIR.
* Kenseth an average finish 18.2 in five Chase cut off races at Richmond.
* Kenseth has finished inside the top 14 in his last six starts, with an 11.83 average finish in those races.
* Kenseth enters the weekend 20 points ahead of 13th position and 49 behind 10th.
Last Year at Richmond...
9/7/08 - Started: 9th - Finished: 36th
After starting ninth and spending 120 laps inside the top 10, contact with teammate David Ragan on lap 121 caused significant damage to the No. 17. Kenseth was forced to pit several times to repair damages and ultimately finished Sunday's Rock & Roll 400 in 39th place, two laps down to the leaders. Despite the disappointing finish, Kenseth still managed to secure a spot in the Chase.
Throughout the first two runs of the race, Kenseth reported that the No. 17 was experiencing "loose" handling conditions. Crew chief Chip Bolin and the No. 17 team worked to correct the handling problems during two scheduled pit stops with air pressure and chassis adjustments. By lap 114, Kenseth reported that the handling of his Ford was improving and he was running comfortably in eighth place.
However, just seven laps later the machines of teammates Kenseth and Ragan banged together, slamming both into the outside retaining wall.