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Like Old Times: Roush Cars On Front Row At CMS

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 19 2018

Matt Kenseth, who has come out of forced retirement in recent weeks, won the pole for the NASCAR All-Star Race on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

By Deb Williams | Senor Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Roush Fenway Racing has struggled for most of the season, but less than a month after announcing Matt Kenseth’s return, the organization swept the front row in qualifying Friday for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kenseth earned the pole in the unique qualifying format that consists of three laps and a four-tire pit stop with no speed limit on pit road. Kenseth’s teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the second starting position. Both teams strayed from the norm on their pit stops, changing the left-side tires first. That put both of them in the 16-second range.

Kenseth’s third pole in his 18th All-Star race tied him with Kyle Busch and Rusty Wallace for second on the all-time list for most poles in the event. Bill Elliott leads with four.

The handling wasn’t much of an issue with restrictor plates, so I couldn’t really mess that up too bad,” Kenseth said about his qualifying run that consumed 127.644 seconds. “Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) was a huge help to me going out early and helping me with my braking in pit road and his spotter up there helping me.”

Stenhouse hit a drain as he exited pit road, but still managed to grab the No. 1 position before Kenseth made his run.

“(Spotter) Scott Bowen did a good job with our pit crew, both Matt (Kenseth) and mine,” Stenhouse said. “We were able to have fast pit stops with no penalties and that is mainly the biggest key for this qualifying format.

“Luckily, the car is OK after hitting that manhole cover. I kind of knew I was going to shortcut and not go up onto the track, so I was looking at the end of the pit road wall and was going to hang a left. Then I hung the left and saw the hole.”

Kenseth said he was still in “catch-up mode” when it came to assessing Roush Fenway’s cars. However, Stenhouse said Kenseth’s contribution had been what he expected.

“He (Kenseth) is pretty direct with how he feels about the race cars and it is nice that his directness is exactly like mine,” Stenhouse said. “Hopefully, we can get some movement in the right direction with our cars. I think for me it is reassuring that he feels the exact same way that I do.

“Matt isn’t an engineer … (but) he was at least able to talk about his years at (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) and how the cars drove and what he struggled with and didn’t struggle with versus what our cars drive like. That has been nice to hear. We had a good week of meetings.”

Ford not only swept the front row for the All-Star race, the manufacturer commandeered the first four starting positions. Clint Bowyer claimed third and Kevin Harvick qualified fourth. Martin Truex Jr. was the highest qualifying Toyota, rounding out the top five. Austin Dillon possessed the top Chevrolet, securing the ninth starting position.

Seventeen cars qualified on Friday for Saturday’s All-Star race. The winner of each segment in the Open as well as the overall victor will advance to the All-Star race. The final driver in the All-Star field will be determined by the fans.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 19 2018
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