Kenseth 9th at Kansas; still 2nd in standings
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
Matt Kenseth Race Summary
No. 20 DEWALT FLEXVOLT™ Toyota Camry
Started: 1st • Finished: 9th • Laps 267/267
3,074 total points for the season; currently 2nd in the driver point standings
Kenseth Battles Back to a Top-10 Finish at Kansas After Leading 116 Laps
· NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series traveled west to Kansas City for Sunday’s second race in the Chase’s Round of 12 after a race weekend at Charlotte that shook up the standings for many in the Chase. Matt Kenseth and his No. 20 DEWALT FLEXVOLT™ team entered the weekend second in the point standings and were looking for a strong run at one of Kenseth’s best tracks. Kenseth earned his first pole award of the season on Friday as the team clinched the top spot to roll off Sunday. Despite leading for the majority of the first half of the race, Kenseth sustained damage to the right-side of his Toyota after contact with the wall, and fell as far back as 19th before fighting to comeback and finish ninth.
· Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 began at 1:34 p.m. CST as Kenseth led the field to the green flag. Kenseth rocketed his way out front of the field and quietly maintained that positioning until the first caution of the day came at lap 27. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff checked in with his driver to see how the No. 20 Toyota was handling, and Kenseth told him that he could use “a little more rear grip for longer.” The team serviced the car with four tires, fuel, and a round of air pressure adjustments before Kenseth restarted as the race leader.
· Kenseth continued to show the way out front over the next few runs in his DEWALT FLEXVOLT™ Camry. Around lap 80, Kenseth radioed in to his team that the No. 20 was a little tighter as the track began to rubber up, but overall, he was pleased with the handling. A series of green-flag pit stops began to cycle around lap 82, and Ratcliff called his driver in for service on lap 87. Once again, the team serviced the car with four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments as Kenseth cycled back as the race leader after everyone had hit pit road.
· A caution at lap 116 found Kenseth tell his team that the No. 20 machine had gotten a little looser on the previous run. Kenseth pitted for another four-tire stop under the yellow flag and lined up as the race leader for the restart. Shortly after the restart, the No. 4 car made the pass and took over the lead on lap 127. Kenseth began to fall back position by position over the run as he told his team that the DEWALT FLEXVOLT™ Camry was “loose now and mainly on the throttle.” The handling challenge found Kenseth fighting to hold on to 10th before another round of green-flag pit stops began to cycle around lap 171.
· Ratcliff called for a green-flag stop at lap 173 as the team went to work on their race car. Under the stop, the team worked on checking out the right-side of their race car after Kenseth had told the team that he had tagged the wall on the previous run. There was damage to the right-side of his vehicle, and the team worked to ensure that there weren’t any tire rubs that could cause any further problems. Kenseth and Ratcliff discussed the changes to the car’s handling over the last run, and Kenseth told the team that the No. 20 had gotten tighter after the contact with the wall. Kenseth restarted ninth to begin lap 184, but by the next caution at lap 190, he was back to 13th.
· The team kept making adjustments to the DEWALT FLEXVOLT™ Camry in order to help Kenseth battle for position, but the field opted for varying pit strategies under the lap 190 caution. Ratcliff made the call for four tires, while the top six cars at the restart had stayed out, and the rest of the cars in the top ten had taken two tires. Kenseth fell as low as 19th over the next run, but was able to work his way back up to 13th before another caution came.
· Battling both loose and tight-handling, Kenseth hit pit road on lap 235 for right-side tires and fuel as the team hoped the strategy would allow them to make up some ground after running 13th. Kenseth restarted in seventh and only faded back into ninth before the checkered flag waved after lap 267.
· Kevin Harvick drove to the victory Sunday afternoon and punched his card into the next round of the Chase, the Round of 8. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five finishers, while Kenseth’s ninth-place finish kept him second in the driver point standings. Next weekend, the series travels to Talladega Superspeedway for the final race in the Round of 12 as four drivers will be eliminated from Chase competition following the race.
MATT KENSETH'S POST-RACE THOUGHTS
Does this finish reflect how your car handled during the race?
“We had a good car, and not sure how I did it, but I hit the wall getting into turn one and then in the middle of the race I started losing some handle a little bit when the track changed. I lost track of where I was and hit the wall. It was an uphill battle from there and then at the end, I thought we still had a shot at a top-five out of it but the 88 (Alex Bowman) just hung a left as hard as he could and knocked our right fender off and then I was just dead in the water.”
How difficult is it to put together a complete race?
“It’s never easy. We got off a little bit. We led early and as the track rubbered up we got off on our handle a little bit and lost a few spots to the 24 (Chase Elliott) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick). Some of those guys had some real good short run speed. Then I got into the wall right after I lost a couple spots and that really put us behind. But, I thought we were going to come back from it and I’m not sure what that 88 (Alex Bowman) was doing. He came right across the track and cleaned the right front fender off. We were lucky to finish, so thankful we still got ninth out of it after that.”
2016 SEASON SUMMARY:
Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile track)
Sunday, October 23, 2016