Rockingham II: Matt Kenseth - NASCAR spotlight

Kenseth, "Killer Bees" out to claim titles at The Rock DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 5, 2003) -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has inched closer to claiming the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship by virtue of his season-long ...

Kenseth, "Killer Bees" out to claim titles at The Rock

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 5, 2003) -- Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has inched closer to claiming the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship by virtue of his season-long consistency that is showcased by a series-high 24 top-10 finishes, three more than his nearest competitors in that category.

That consistency has not only come from behind the wheel, but on pit road where Kenseth's crew, the "Killer Bees," have time and again put the No. 1-ranked driver for the past 31 race weekends in a position to extend his advantage in the NASCAR Top 10 rankings.

Both Kenseth and his crew could come away from Sunday's race at North Carolina Speedway with titles that would reward that consistency -- Kenseth with Roush Racing's first-ever NASCAR Winston Cup championship, and the No. 17 crew with its third consecutive Union 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew title.

Kenseth can claim the championship Sunday by finishing 18th or better, or with a lead of 186 points or more. He currently leads No. 2-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) by 228 points with two races remaining.

"We've run pretty good here the last few times and I really like the track," said Kenseth, who won last year's February race at "The Rock" and has finished in the top 10 in his last four visits to the track. "I think it's still going to take a really competitive effort by this team to lock things up, but it makes it easier to imagine after our strong run last week. I feel pretty good about everything heading into this weekend."

As well he should. The No. 17 crew has won the World Pit Crew Championship the past two seasons, establishing record times in both instances. Last year, the crew completed its stop in 16.823 seconds to become the first to break the 16-second barrier. The event, held every fall at Rockingham since 1967, carries a $100,000 purse, with $30,000 earmarked for the winning team. A new record results in an extra $10,000 bonus.

Crews in the Top 25 in points are invited to compete. In the shortest time possible, they must empty 14 gallons of fuel (two cans of seven gallons each), and change both right- and left-side tires. Penalties are assessed for various infractions including loose lug nuts, fuel spills and fuel left in the gas can. The crew for the late seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, led by crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine, won four titles in a row from 1985-88.

"We've got a good car and some great notes to fall back on this week," said Kenseth's crew chief Robbie Reiser. "But I couldn't be prouder of my guys to have put themselves in the position they have coming into this race. I think it's going to be a weekend to remember for us."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Kirk Shelmerdine