PHOENIX (Nov. 6, 1999) Despite his best effort to keep the race for the NASCAR Busch Series championship going until the last week of the season, Matt Kenseth couldn't finish high enough, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., was just too strong, to keep his ...
PHOENIX (Nov. 6, 1999) Despite his best effort to keep the race for the NASCAR Busch Series championship going until the last week of the season, Matt Kenseth couldn't finish high enough, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., was just too strong, to keep his championship hopes alive.
"We did the best we could, but we were just a little bit off all day," Kenseth said. "We were real tight at the beginning at the runs. At the end of the first run we weren't real, real bad, We never really quite hit it right this weekend, but the car could run in the top-5. It was my fault. I made the call to loosen it up. After the caution and cloud cover, we were just too loose."
Kenseth worked real hard to get past Ken Schrader at the end in order to gain enough points to keep it interesting going into Homestead next week. But Schrader, who won the Bud Pole for the race Thursday, was giving no room. The realization his championship hopes were over sunk in as the last laps winded down.
"These guys work hard all year and our goal is to win the championship," Kenseth said. "To get beat by the same guy two years in a row hurts, but on the other hand we've had a good year. We've got to go the Homestead and do the bast we can and still try to finish second in points. Jeff Green and Dale Jr. are both real tough competitors to beat."
Kenseth has been in second place in the series points race for most of the season. Only five times did Kenseth get a look at the lead, with three weeks being the longest amount of time he held on. To be that close for so long can be very discouraging for a competitor like Kenseth.
"Disappointment is disappointment I guess," Kenseth said. "I'm real proud of all these guys. Robbie Rieser has given me a great opportunity here. If we can hold on to second, that's nothing to sneeze at I guess. Everybody wants to be a champion. That's what we work real hard at, but throughout the year we haven't been consistent enough. I've made more mistakes as a driver than I made last year. We've has other problems, failures accidents and things like that. We did the best job we could. We performed better than we did last year. We just had a lot more trouble and that hurts the pint standings."
Now that the championship is gone, Kenseth can look back on his season with pride, as well as be happy for the good fortune of his close friend, Earnhardt Jr.
"If you're going to get beat you might as well get beat by the best," Kenseth said. "Dale Jr. is the best in the Busch Series right now. He's got the most wins the last two years and he's a two-time champion. It's the only tow years he's run so it's hard to argue with that. To finish second to him or third or wherever we end up after Homestead, I guess that's not too bad. I definitely wanted to win it, but we gave it our best shot and just came up short."