Roush Fenway Racing Strikes Again
Matt Kenseth caught and passed his mentor and prennial fan favorite Mark Martin with just 32 laps remaining to become the third multi-race winner in 2011 (photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, Getty Images Sport)
Many are familiar with the old saying that “it’s better to be lucky than good.” In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, sometimes it’s better to be smart than just plain fast. 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion and Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth used a fast car and a bit of racing luck to put his No. 17 Ford Fusion in Victory Lane at Dover.
When South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya (see sidebar) hit the wall in Turn 4 to bring out the afternoon’s seventh and final caution on Lap 363, all of the lead-lap cars except for fan-favorite Mark Martin came down pit road for tires and fuel. But as Kenseth was heading towards his pit stall, he decided to gamble, telling crew chief Jimmy Fennig that he wanted just right-side tires.
The risky move allowed Kenseth to restart second to his former teammate and mentor Martin. But Kenseth sailed past Martin on Lap 369, and held on for the remaining 32 laps. Marcos Ambrose had an outstanding third-place finish, the best of the year for the Australian expatriate. Kyle Busch and Ft. Lauderdale resident Brian Vickers completed the top five.
"We ran good," Martin said. "But we were getting ready to finish 15th again. We've ran that well all year and finished 15th, but today was just a great Dover race. Man, I love this place."
Carl Edwards led 117 laps in his No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion and appeared headed for victory, but had to settle for seventh after getting beaten on track position during the final stop. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Edwards continues to lead the Sprint Cup points standings, by 24 ahead of Johnson, 37 ahead of Kyle Busch and 52 ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“You can’t look back, you have to look forward,” said Edwards of his run. “We still have the points lead and the fastest car here today. Everybody did a good job on the Aflac Ford and a teammate won, so that is good.”
The victory was the 20th of Kenseth’s Sprint Cup career, which began at Dover in 1998 substituting for NASCAR legend Bill Elliott. More importantly, it was his second win of the season, which virtually assures him of a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
And there’s no question that strategy decided the race.
“We came down pit road and as I slid into the stall I keyed the mic and said, ‘Jimmy, are you sure you don’t want to try two?’ and he didn’t hesitate and said, ‘two tires, two tires’ and it was in plenty of time,” said Kenseth. “It was no problem and it went smooth almost like we planned it.”
Ambrose finished a career best third. “We have had two top-10’s on the 1.5-mile speedways this year and I am really excited that our team is learning,” he said of his Richard Petty Motorsports squad. “They are learning me and I am learning them. I am learning how these cars work.”
Johnson led 207 laps, but the five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion took four tires on the final pit stop, and finished ninth. Johnson led 133 of the first 143 laps.
Martin now sits 11th in the standings with 11 of 36 races in the record books en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18-20).Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte on Saturday, May 21 (7:00 p.m. ET, SPEED, MRN Radio) — which is a non-points race. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Rough Day at Dover for Miami’s Montoya
Miami's own Juan Pablo Montoya and the Target team battled rain, a finicky handling race car, track position and a string of bad luck near the end of the race to finish in the 32nd position at Dover.
Juan Pablo Montoya will be participating in his second career Sprint All-Star Challenge. In 2008, Montoya earned his first visit to the All-Star Race after his 2007 Infineon victory. This year, Montoya has qualified to race based on his win at Watkins Glen in August of 2010. Montoya will once again have the Energizer bunny on his car as the primary sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge. The paint scheme is celebrating Energizer’s promotion to “Light up the Night” at Charlotte prior to the start of the race.
In celebration of their 16 year partnership, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has teamed up with Energizer to “Light up the Night” at Charlotte for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge on May 21st. Energizer hopes to help fans set a world record for shining the most flashlights simultaneously at a sporting event. 65,000 LED headlights will be distributed as fans are asked to shine them during pre-race festivities.
Montoya’s 32nd place finish finds him sitting 15th in the points standings—just 32 points behind Tony Stewart for 10th—in his Chase for a Sprint Cup Championship on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Montoya became the first non-American born driver to make the Chase For the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2009 and looks to make a return trip in 2011. The Chase will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 18-20.
Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Next up for Montoya and NASCAR’s best is Charlotte on Saturday, May 21 (7 pm ET, SPEED, MRN Radio). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 20.
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