Kenseth 14th in "Wreck"less Talladega. TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 5, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT team held their own on the monster 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway to finish the EA Sports 500 in 14th place. Qualifying was rained out...
Kenseth 14th in "Wreck"less Talladega.
TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 5, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth and the DEWALT team held their own on the monster 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway to finish the EA Sports 500 in 14th place.
Qualifying was rained out on Friday so the field was set according to Winston Cup points. Even though Kenseth was 5th for the day's practice, he would have to start the race in 8th place.
Talladega is known for its multiple car wrecks that take out half of the running field, so the drivers were warned to drive sensibly and stay above the yellow line on the track. Also, the teams were only allowed a 13 gallon fuel cell, in an effort to break up the usual big pack of cars.
Kenseth started out strong, as he moved forward into the lead by lap four. He held the lead until lap 20 when a pack of cars led by Jeff Gordon took over. Kenseth fell back to seventh, but made his way back to second by the first pit stop.
The EA Sports went green from flag to the checkers. The DEWALT crew brought the No. 17 car in for service on lap 34 for right side tires and fuel. Kenseth was pushed into the grass on pit road by the No. 33 car causing him to lose position. Kenseth went back on the track in eighth and could not find any drafting partners to push him back up into the front.
Kenseth pitted again on lap 67 for right side tires and fuel. When pit stops cycled through, he was 12th in the running order. By lap 72 Kenseth complained he had no grip on the left side of the car and the next pit stop the team needed to change the left sides. On lap 103, the DEWALT crew made a pit stop and gave Kenseth the fresh left side tires he needed.
Drafting to the front, Kenseth was running third when it came time for the next pit stop on lap 126. He fell back to 15th and stayed in that position until pitting on lap 170 for the final time because the team could not make it all the way to the end on fuel.
When Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line to win his third race in a row at Talladega, Kenseth was 14th. Kenseth gained major real estate in the Winston Cup Championship point standings as he is sixth, 201 points behind new leader Tony Stewart.
"This was better than a typical restrictor plate race performance for us," said Kenseth. "There wasn't a wreck, so that was good. We ran great, but we didn't get good fuel mileage and had to pit an extra time more than everybody else and that hurt us."
The Winston Cup Series is at "home" at Lowe's Motor Speedway next weekend for the UAW/GM 500.