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« Junior and Busch were victims and villains in Richmond last year | Main | Kyle Busch’s 2009 winning pace ahead of 2008 »

Kenseth frustrated as he teeters on Top 12 borderline

By admin | May 3, 2009

By Richard Allen

A late race rally in Richmond that brought him from outside the Top 20 to a final finishing spot of 13th is all that saved Matt Kenseth from dropping out of the all important Top 12 in the Sprint Cup standings.

This driver and team so well known for consistency would have seemed a sure bet for staying inside the Top 12, and thus making the Chase for the Championship cutoff after the next Richmond race, after having won the first two races of the season. However, since those first two victories there has been little to celebrate in this Roush Fenway Racing camp.

Kenseth claimed his first win in the ‘Great American Race’ when he won the season opening Daytona 500 in February. He followed that up with a win in the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, California to prove that his initial victory was not just a rain shortened, restrictor plate fluke.

From that point on, though, things have gone downhill for the #17 Ford. He finished a dead last 43rd in Las Vegas after suffering an engine failure at the very beginning of the race and has fared hardly any better since. A 5th place in Texas is the only other Top 10 for Kenseth aside from the first two races.

In Saturday night’s Crown Royal 400 at Richmond the frustration level for this usually reserved driver rose to a new level.

“It would be nice to come to a track and not have to drive a last place car”, he said over his team radio on one occasion during the event.

After being bounced into the wall by another car he commented, “We’ve got to get better cars or we’re just gonna get run over and wrecked every week.”

He was even critical of crew chief Drew Blickensderfer’s decisions on the timing of pit stops in the latter stages of the race.

Even though Ryan Newman set a precedent for winning the Daytona 500 and then going on to have a lackluster season otherwise in 2008, hardly anyone would have predicted such a fall for Matt Kenseth and his Roush Fenway Racing team in 2009. There is still plenty of time remaining for them to return to their winning ways of early on, but it will have to be quite a turnaround based on their recent performances.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

*Why does Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have so many fans? What should be done about the track in Talladega? Is Kyle Busch the best driver in NASCAR?

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And as always, check out the latest in my animated series, “Racing Re-Cap: Richmond”.

This week reporter Mark Mustang is looking forward to interviewing the special guest his co-host, Daisy Dreamboat, has lined up…until he finds out who the special guest is.

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One Response to “Kenseth frustrated as he teeters on Top 12 borderline”

  1. Charles Says:
    May 4th, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Its not just Matt, all the Fords, Edwards, Biffle, Ragan, are not up to speed! Mabe the old style of engine the one they have been running since the early ninties has finally run its course!