Kenseth Wins Busch Race at Homestead
Saturday, November 18th 2006, 9:57 pm
News On 6
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) Matt Kenseth passed teammate Carl Edwards for the lead with 11 laps to go Saturday night then pulled away for his second consecutive Busch Series victory. Kenseth won last week in Phoenix, but had to hold off Kevin Harvick for a 3-lap sprint to the finish to claim the win.
This time he led 90 laps, lost the lead on a poor pit stop, and had to chase down Edwards to reclaim it.
Once out front there was no catching him and the win was wrapped up when Jay Sauter spun on the final lap to bring out the caution and freeze the field. It was the third Busch win of the season for Kenseth and 21st of his career.
Now he'll try to carry it over into Sunday's Nextel Cup finale. He heads into the race trailing points leader Jimmie Johnson by 63 points.
``Oh man, I learned some stuff, Jimmie's in big trouble,'' the pessimistic Kenseth deadpanned.
Later, Kenseth said he would try to capitalize on the track time to help him change his luck at Homestead. In six previous starts, Kenseth only has one finish better than 19th.
``It is always a confidence builder to win, and it was maybe a little bit more here because I don't have a lot of experience on this track,'' he said. ``It feels good to get some time on the track and learn the personality of the track, the grooves. All that stuff doesn't hurt.''
Edwards finished 2nd and couldn't really focus on running down Kenseth because he had to contend with Paul Menard in his rearview mirror.
``That was all I had, that was it,'' Edwards said. ``Matt did a good job, I think he had the fastest car and he ended up winning. It would have been sad if that pit stop would have cost him the win.''
Menard was 3rd and was followed by Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley and Harvick, who finally got to celebrate the Busch Series title he won five weeks ago.
Harvick had been vying for his 10th win of the season, which would have tied him with Sam Ard for the Busch record. Although he started from the pole, Kenseth grabbed the lead away from him and Harvick slowly faded back
He wound up 6th, but it's all been for fun the past five weeks: Harvick wrapped up the title a month ago and has been racing for little more than Ard's record since. The final standings will show that he won the Busch Series title by an outrageous 824 points over Edwards.
``I'm pretty proud to keep it under 1,000 points,'' Edwards joked.
Now Harvick will try to make it two titles this season, he heads into the Cup finale mathematically eligible to win that championship, too. But he's 90 points behind Johnson, so Harvick needs a perfect race and help from others to pull off the sweep.
Harvick wasn't thinking about that, though. He was instead soaking up the celebration of the second Busch title of his career. His other came in 2001, the other year he ran a full Busch and Cup schedule at the same time.
``We've enjoyed every minute this year,'' Harvick said. ``We have been on the top, we have been on the bottom of things and when you come back to the top the second time you really learn to respect things a lot more. I think the second time around, we're a lot more aware of how hard things are to come by in this sport.''
Juan Pablo Montoya, in the final race before his Nextel Cup debut, finished a decent 14th. He even led a lap, staying out on the track during an early round of pit stops under caution to pace the field for the first time in his NASCAR career.
``I'm still struggling a little bit,'' Montoya said. ``We just want to lead a whole lap tomorrow and learn a little bit.''
Sam Hornish Jr., the other open-wheel star in the field, wasn't nearly as successful. He wrecked on the fourth lap of the race and was unable to continue, leaving him last in the 43-car field. He finished 36th last week in Phoenix, his NASCAR debut.