NSCS: Matt Kenseth Leaves Martinsville With Crippled Championship Hopes

October 30, 2011 No Comments

Credit: Brian Czobat

Matt Kenseth entered Sunday’s race just 14 points behind teammate and points leader Carl Edwards, but a wreck at lap 465 relegated Kenseth to a 31st place finish. Kenseth dropped to fifth in points, 36 points out.

Kenseth, who’s known to struggle at Martinsville, led the first three laps but faded slightly, spending the majority of the day running in the top 10.

Brian Vickers, who was involved in nearly half of the 18 cautions, rebounded and put his battered No. 83 in the in ninth with 50 to go. Vickers, the only non-chase driver in the top 10 at the time, battled hard against Kenseth for eighth heading into turn three at lap 459. Contact between the two sent Vickers into the outside wall, setting up a restart with 37 to go.

“We were at Martinsville and I gave him the bottom.” Obviously I’m not going to roll over and let him go with 40 to go,” said Kenseth of Vickers. “He kept driving harder and harder and slammed me in the door at least five times and ran me up in the marbles. I was just tired of it so I just spun him out.”

Kenseth battled Chase contender Kyle Busch for tenth on the restart, prior to locking the brakes up heading into turn three at lap 465, sending both he and Busch into the wall. Kenseth fared much worse than Busch, as he limped back to pit road with heavy rear end damage and a broken track-bar.

“I kept getting restarts on the outside and on used tires, our car would not restart fast,” said Kenseth. “It would just be extremely loose. I just couldn’t get going.

“When I got under the 18 (Kyle Busch), I really don’t know what happened. I thought I left him enough room. I don’t know if I slid up into him or what happened, but somehow we hit off of two and it cut my tire. It ruined my day and his.”

Kenseth drove his crippled No. 17 to the garage for repairs, ultimately resulting in a loss of 19 laps before returning to the track in 31st. Kenseth ended up finishing 23 laps down.

With just three races remaining in the Chase, Kenseth chases a charmed Edwards and must overcome the 36 point deficit to win his third championship.

“He’s not running that great but he’s pretty darn lucky,” said Kenseth with a smirk.

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