Kenseth finishes 36th after accident in Auto Club 400
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP Series;Auto Club 400
Auto Club Speedway
Matt Kenseth Race Summary
No. 20 PEAK Antifreeze Toyota Camry
Started: 6th • Finished: 36th • 184/202
73 total points for the season; 25th in the driver point standings following the race
Late-Race Contact Forces Kenseth to a 36th-Place Finish at Fontana
· The third and final race of NASCAR’s west coast swing took place at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California this weekend. Matt Kenseth and his No. 20 PEAK Antifreeze Toyota started Sunday’s race from sixth, and despite fighting handling challenges throughout the race, he and the team had fought back to fourth before contact while racing for position sent Kenseth into the wall on lap 185. The hard hit ended the team’s day just 15 laps from the scheduled end of the race, and Kenseth was left with a disappointing 36th-place finish at Fontana.
· The Auto Club 400 took the green flag at 12:50 p.m. PST as the field, led by polesitter Kyle Larson, roared to life. On the opening lap of the race, Kenseth charged up to third before the first caution of the day came early on lap 4 due to the No. 2 car. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff made the call to pit as he told his team to take right-side tires and fuel. The PEAK Camry lined up in fourth for the restart, but over the course of the run, Kenseth faded back to 21st eventually after he told his team that the No. 20 had gotten “loose in and off.”
· With Stage 1 of the race coming after lap 60, teams started to rotate through pit stops starting around lap 31. Ratcliff called his driver down pit road on lap 33 for four tires, fuel, and adjustments aimed at tightening up the PEAK Camry. Following the stop, Kenseth told his team that the changes had definitely tightened up his racecar, but he needed help getting the No. 20 to turn easier.
· Under the caution following the end of Stage 1, Kenseth once again received four tires, fuel, and adjustments and lined up in 16th for the restart. Able to drive his way into 14th before the team decided to pit at lap 91, Kenseth reported that the car continued to be tighter, but he was being challenged by the right-front of the car not “digging into the track.”
· The No. 20 PEAK team continued to make adjustments to their machine, and they were able to gain a few spots off pit road to line Kenseth up in 11th for the restart at lap 128. By lap 132, Kenseth had driven into the top-10, and was up to eighth, when another round of pit stops started to cycle around lap 152. Kenseth had told his team at the time that everything with his PEAK Camry was “tied together a lot better” during the run.
· Kenseth was still running in eighth when a caution came at lap 180. Ratcliff called for four tires and fuel under the yellow, and the pit crew blasted off a fast stop that saw Kenseth gain four positions exiting the pits. With the top-five position for the restart, Kenseth and the PEAK Camry were poised to make their move with just 15 laps scheduled to remain in the race. Unfortunately, while fighting for position after the restart, Kenseth received contact in his rear quarter panel, which caused the PEAK Camry to get loose, hitting hard into the interior wall of the track coming off Turn 2. The substantial damage ended the team’s race and relegated Kenseth to a 36th-place finish, despite the promise of a top-five run.
· Kyle Larson claimed the victory on Sunday earning his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2017 season. Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr., and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five finishers, while Kenseth was scored in 36th and fell to 25th in the driver point standings.
2017 SEASON SUMMARY:
Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile track)
Sunday, April 2, 2017