Pit strategy pays off for Kenseth with Dover win|
Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Matt Kenseth capitalized on a two-tire pit
strategy during the final round of stops to win Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover
Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards dominated most of the race by combining for
324 of 400 laps led. But Johnson and Edwards took four tires each on their
last stops, which ended up costing both drivers an opportunity to win. The
pit stops occurred during a caution period with less than 40 laps remaining.
Mark Martin did not pit and led the way for the final restart with 34 laps to
go. Martin had been running in the 14th spot prior to the caution.
Kenseth moved around Martin for the lead shortly after the restart and then
ran in front for the final 32 laps around the one-mile, concrete surfaced
track. Kenseth finished 2.1 seconds ahead of Martin for his second Sprint Cup
Series win at Dover. He won here in June 2006.
"It was pretty exciting for me to be able to win here at Dover, especially the
way we did it," Kenseth said. "It seems like we've lost more that way than
people getting in front of us, then we won. Really turned out good. I was
happy we were able to pull it off."
It was also Kenseth's second victory of the season and the 20th of his Cup
career. He joins Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch as those repeat race winners in
NASCAR's top-tier series so far this year.
Even though he currently sits sixth in points, Kenseth is now likely to
qualify for the 12-driver championship Chase field later this year.
Per NASCAR's new Chase format, the top-10 drivers in points will be locked in
the playoffs after the September 10 race at Richmond. Positions 11 and 12 in
the Chase will go to the drivers who have the most wins, provided they are in
the top-20 at that time.
"You want to have the wins to have the wildcard if you have to fall back on
that," Kenseth said. "We don't want to slide in off of wins if we're 18th in
points or something. We want to go out there and race like this every week."
Kenseth made his Cup debut at Dover in September 1998, the same race that
"We finally got a finish today," Martin said after his first top-five finish
this season. "Looked like we were going to get 15th again with a really fast
racecar. We've had a racecar this good a lot this year. Seems like for some
reason or another we wind up in the back of the pack, and we just don't have
enough to climb our way back to the front."
Martin is a four-time Dover race winner, with his last victory here coming in
the spring of 2004.
Marcos Ambrose finished third, followed by Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Clint
Bowyer. Vickers missed both races at Dover last year, when he was being
treated for blood clots.
Edwards wound up finishing seventh, while Martin Truex Jr. took the eighth
"I didn't think that many guys would take two, and I thought [crew chief] Bob
[Osborne's] call was a good one, but it just didn't work out," Edwards said.
Johnson, who was attempting to win his track-record-tying seventh race at
Dover, ended up with a ninth-place finish. He started on the pole and led the
most laps with 207.
"I knew I was outnumbered once I came off of pit road, and saw so many guys
with two [tires]," Johnson said. "At that point, I knew we were kind of in
trouble. The numbers don't work in your favor, especially at this track."
Saturday's qualifying session for the 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Dover was
rained out. Therefore, Johnson earned the pole position since he was quickest
in practice on Friday.
Kevin Harvick completed the top-10. There were no encounters between Harvick
and Kyle Busch, as both drivers began their five-week long probation period
this weekend at Dover. Last Tuesday, NASCAR placed Busch and Harvick on
probation until June 15 and fined each one of them $25,000 following their
post-race altercation in the May 7 Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway.
Regan Smith, the surprise race winner at Darlington, finished 34th after
suffering a track bar issue late in the race.
05/15 19:10:11 ET