By admin | February 22, 2009
By Richard Allen
Matt Kenseth had a fast car for Sundayâ€™s Auto Club 500, but he had an even faster pit crew.
After a lap 141 caution period the #17 â€˜Killer Beesâ€™ got their driver out first. They continued to do so for every pit stop thereafter and that proved to be the difference in the race.
As is so often the case in these type races on the 1.5- 2 mile tracks, the leader is virtually impossible to pass. Clean air makes all the difference as the leader takes advantage of it and often times streaks away from the field. Kenseth was, for the most part, able to do just that during the second half of the race on the 2 mile Auto Club Speedway.
During one run, the #17 car lost grip and was passed by Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle. However, after the next round of pit stops Kenseth reassumed his place at the head of the line and never gave it up.
Gordon made a couple of hard runs at the lead over the last 25 laps but was never able to get close enough to really pressure the man who last week won the Daytona 500.
â€œThese guys behind me are great,â€ Kenseth said in victory lane, referring to his crew. â€œIâ€™m blessed to have such a great team.â€
Roush Fenway Racing, Kensethâ€™s team owner, has won each of the last five Auto Club Speedway races held in February. It was also Kensethâ€™s third win on the Los Angeles area track.
Kenseth became the first driver since Jeff Gordon in 1997 to win the first two races of the season.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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