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Kenseth Wins Cup Rubber Match At Dover

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 15 2011

Matt Kenseth and his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford got a monster Sprint Cup win on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)


Matt Kenseth used a two-tire strategy on the final pit stop of the day to win the Fed Ex 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

It was Kenseth’s second victory of the season and comes four races after that victory in Texas.

It was the 20th victory of the Roush Fenway Racing driver’s Sprint Cup career.

“I was sitting on the track and thinking that we should stay out and get clean air and try it because I knew we wouldn’t win if we took four,” Kenseth said. “Jimmy (Fennig, his crew chief) wanted four but as I was driving down pit road I thought maybe we could compromise. While I was on the jack I asked if he was sure we didn’t want to try two and he said to put on two. It was really Jimmy’s call and just a suggestion by me. It was tough to pass on top of that rubber out there. We had a lot of power and these guys did a good job with the car.”

Mark Martin of Hendrick Motorsports, who did not pit on the final caution, finished second.

“Well kudos to Lance McGrew and everybody on this GoDaddy.com Chevrolet crew here,” Martin said. “We ran good. But we were getting ready to finish 15th again and its been a shame because we have run that well a lot this year and finished 15th.  And today was just a great Dover race.  I love this place.”

Marcos Ambrose of Richard Petty Motorsports was third.

Kyle Busch was fourth and Brian Vickers was fifth.

For most of the afternoon, Jimmie Johnson and points leader Carl Edwards had the

Matt Kenseth's crew welcomes its driver home a winner following Sunday's victory in Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

fastest cars. They ran up front almost the whole race. They were battling for the lead and the victory when the final caution was called.

But Johnson, who led 207 laps, and Edwards, who led 117, both took four tires. Edwards finished seventh and Johnson ninth.

“I didn’t have any choice in it really, that is up to the guys up on the box,” Edwards said. “That is too tough of a choice to make right there and I don’t blame Bob Osborne one bit. I thought we would be able to march up through there and I thought the race would be between Clint (Bowyer) and I.

“I did see a couple cars go fast early on two tires but I really felt we were going to have something. If we had had a caution who know what would have happened. You can’t look back, you have to look forward. 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.”

Johnson started the race from the pole and led under green until a NASCAR-called competition caution just after lap 40.

Edwards took the lead when he beat Johnson out of the pits. But on the restart lap, Johnson reclaimed the lead when he went past Edwards on the high side.

Johnson held the lead until green-flag pit stops started at about lap 105. When the pitting cycled through, Johnson picked up the lead once again.

He held it until lap 144. On that lap, Edwards regained the lead on a pass in Turn 2.

Johnson appeared to be moving back up on Edwards on lap 164 when the caution flag

Matt Kenseth and crew chief Jimmy Fennig got the victory Sunday in Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

waved for rain. The field pitted and when the cars emerged, Johnson was in front of Edwards at the front.

The race went green again on lap 170. Johnson held the lead until lap 190 when he was again passed by Edwards.

Edwards held the lead until there were 118 laps left. At that point, green-flag pitting was under way. When the pitting cycled through, Johnson again had the lead – about a second in front of Edwards.

Edwards began eating into that lead and with 90 laps to go was on Johnson’s rear bumper. A couple laps later Edwards regained the lead but Johnson took it back less than a lap later.

Edwards stayed with Johnson and with 69 to go appeared to be headed under him for the lead when a caution was called with Kasey Kahne slowed to a stop on the track.

Bowyer, who had been running  third before the caution, came out of the pits with the lead. Johnson was second and Edwards third. Edwards moved past Johnson into second  and was moving in on Bowyer when a caution came out with 39 to go after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed.

On the ensuing pit stops, some of the top-10 cars stopped for two tires, some took four.

When the race restarted with 34 to go, Martin, who did not pit at all, was first. Second was Kenseth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third, Brian Vickers was fourth, Jeff Gordon was fifth.

Bowyer was the top driver who took four tires – he was eighth and finished sixth.

“Obviously,” Bowyer said, “probably two tires may have won the race right there, but, when he said four and that many guys stayed out or were on two, I really thought we would be able to get back up through them, especially, as greasy and slimy as the track was on restarts. But it just didn’t. Real proud of my guys on the BB&T Chevrolet.”

Kenseth took the lead two laps later.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 15 2011
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