Monday, March 2, 2009

Kenseth's Win Streak Ends With Early Engine Failure At Las Vegas

Point leader Matt Kenseth picked up only the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday's Shelby 427 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #17 USG Sheetrock Ford blew an engine on lap 6 of the 285-lap race.

Following wins in the Daytona 500 and the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, California, Kenseth came into the Vegas event looking to become the first driver to win the first three races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. On Friday, Kenseth struggled in qualifying, lining up 40th with a speed of 182.143 mph, but few were concerned about this as Kenseth had started an average of just over 21st in each of his wins. However, on race day, Kenseth was concerned about a loose plug wire and was saved by an early lap 2 caution, allowing his crew to look under the hood. This, combined with a pit road speeding penalty, kept Kenseth in the back for the lap 6 restart, but his #17 would not get up to speed when the green flag waved. The next time by, Kenseth’s engine blew in a huge plume of smoke going into turn one, ending his day.

The run was Kenseth’s first last-place finish since the season-ending 2003 Ford 400 at Homestead, where another engine failure took him out of the race just 28 laps in. Interestingly, that was also the day Kenseth officially became the 2003 series champion. Kenseth had clinched the title the previous week through remarkable consistency and won only one race in the process: the spring race at Las Vegas.

43) #17-Matt Kenseth / 6 laps / engine
42) #6-David Ragan / 72 laps / engine
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 102 laps / transmission
40) #5-Mark Martin / 121 laps / engine
39) #8-Aric Almirola / 143 laps / crash

1st) Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Joe Nemechek (1)

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