Kenseth At It Again, Takes Second Win of 2011 at The Monster Mile
Remember that old Rob Base song with the line, "It takes two to make a thing go right?"
Well, perhaps a bit of 1988 was set in play at Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon - partying it up with Crown Royal and Wiley X sunglasses.
Matt Kenseth and his No. 17 Roush-Fenway Racing team took the checkered flag in somewhat surprising fashion with a clever two-tire pit strategy down the race's final stretch.
Originally opting to stay out during the race's final caution period, Kenseth came down pit road with the rest of the leaders.
His impromptu call overruled his crew chief Jimmy Fennig's strategy, as he took two fresh tires, giving him optimum track position and a shot to steal the win.
Beating Mark Martin to the stripe, Kenseth's second win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season not only put him in a tie with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch for most wins on the circuit.
More importantly, he padded on to securing a Chase seed in what has been shaping up as a close fight for a playoff position - just 11 races into the season.
"My mind is to be up there and try to lead those points going into the Chase and try to make the Chase in championship form," Kenseth said per AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston's article. "We don't want to have to slide off of wins. We want to go up there and race like this every week."
Based on their performances thus far in 2011, they'll win in about any scenario, be it with a dominant car, pit strategy, or just on pure determination from the pride of Cambridge, WI.
Finishing behind Kenseth and Martin were Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, and Brian Vickers, with Ambrose posting yet another impressive finish at an intermediate speedway.
Martin was pleased with his runner-up finish, as it showed promise in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevy's team prowess on the intermediates, tracks they've struggled at thus far in 2011.
"Today, we finally got a finish," Martin said. "It looked like we were going to get 15th again with a really fast race car. We've had a race car this good a lot this year. But it seems like for some reason or another we end up in the back of the pack."
Rounding out the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
While Kenseth, Martin, and Ambrose had to be elated with their podium finishes, Edwards and Johnson had to be disappointed that the win slipped out of their fingertips by going with four fresh tires during the final caution period.
Edwards and Johnson combined to lead for a total of 324 of the 400 laps run in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, but just a glance at the final rundown hardly indicated their dominance.
For a second consecutive week, Edwards lost a chance at victory because of pit strategy - again taking his defeat like a champion.
"I didn't have any choice in it, really, "Edwards said. "That's up to the guys in the box. That is too tough a choice to make right there and I don't blame (crew chief) Bob Osborne one bit."
As for Johnson, his ninth place finish had to be like a hearty meal of ziti without chicken.
"Led a lot of laps but unfortunately, not the one at the end that counted," Johnson said per AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston's race notebook. "I would love to be in Victory Lane but we will have to do that when we come back in the fall."
Some notable racers who finished outside the top 10 were Jeff Burton (11th), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (12th), Kurt Busch (14th), Denny Hamlin (16th), Jeff Gordon (17th), Dave Blaney (26th), Tony Stewart (29th), and Darlington race winner Regan Smith (34th).
The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit may not have points race next weekend but they have an exciting showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21st for the 27th running of the Sprint All-Star Race (Live, Saturday at 9 PM ET on SPEED).
Kurt Busch looks to duplicate his winning efforts in the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 (Sunday, May 29th at 5 PM on FOX).
Here's a look at the points standings heading into the Charlotte Speedweeks, with team, manufacturer, wins, and point total in parentheses:
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win/416 points)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/1 win/392 points)
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/2 wins/379 points)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy/364 points)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/2 wins/362 points)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/2 wins/342 points)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/340 points)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/336 points)
- Clint Bowyer (Childress/Chevy/336 points)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/328 points)