Texas: Matt Kenseth race report

Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Post Solid Top-Five Finish at Texas; No. 17 Team Overcomes Pit Road Mishap, Finishes Fifth at TMS FT. WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team battled back from a late miscue on pit road to...

Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Post Solid Top-Five Finish at Texas; No. 17 Team Overcomes Pit Road Mishap, Finishes Fifth at TMS

FT. WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2009) -- Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Team battled back from a late miscue on pit road to finish fifth Sunday in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The team struggled during all three of the weekend's practice sessions, but hit the mark when it counted, turning in a third-place qualifying effort on Friday en route to the top-five finish.

"This was a great day," said Kenseth after the race. "We have struggled since California, so to come here and get a top-five and gain a little momentum - that is really what we needed to do.

"I didn't think were very good at all yesterday in practice," added Kenseth. "We qualified really well, but we just didn't practice very well, so Drew [Blickensderfer, crew chief] and Chip [Bolin] and these guys did a good job of not giving up and try to salvage something out of nothing."

Kenseth ran the majority of the race inside the top five, leading 55 laps and running in second position much of the race. He had is DEWALT Ford second when the team came down pit road on lap 252 for four tires and fuel under caution. An issue with the lug nuts on the right rear tire cost the team valuable time in the pits and Kenseth was forced to restart all the way back in 15th position.

Still Kenseth and the team kept their wits about them, patiently moving back through the field. Kenseth had moved all the way back to ninth position by the time caution was called for the fifth and final time on lap 303. The No. 17 crew redeemed themselves with a 12.5 second stop and Kenseth restarted in sixth position on lap 608.

"You can't really do much about it," said Kenseth after the race. "We just got to the back and it was extremely tough to pass, and we were just stuck back there racing with them guys.

"The last stop we had a good pit stop and the guys redeemed themselves and picked me up three or four spots -- I think got us up to sixth -- and we were able to move our way to fifth. That was about the best I could do."

After posting their top qualifying effort of the season (third), Kenseth wasted little time moving up, taking the lead on lap 47. With the exception of a green flag pit cycle he would lead for the next 40 laps, before giving the lead up to Tony Stewart.

The race's first caution came out 11 laps later and the No. 17 DEWALT Pit Crew retook the lead in the pits with a 12.67-second stop on lap 98. Kenseth held on to the lead for the next 18 laps until getting passed by teammate Greg Biffle on lap 116.

With the exception of pit cycles, Kenseth, who led three different times in the race, would run the entire race inside the top-five before the incident with the lug nut on lap 252. After restarting 15th, he broke back inside the top five on lap 309 with 25 laps remaining.

With the finish Kenseth moves up three spots to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 99 points behind fifth and 290 behind first.

The team will take next weekend off for the Easter break before returning to action in two weeks at Phoenix International Raceway, where Kenseth has one victory, five top-five and six top-10 finishes in 13 career starts.

-credit: rfr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle