CHARLOTTE – Matt Kenseth was the last car to qualify this morning for the 30th running of the Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It looked as though Kenseth would start from the pole on Saturday but fell just short and started third.
[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Kenseth made sure that the same didn’t happen at the end of the race. Carl Edwards was leading in the closing laps, Kenseth was able to slip by Edwards with five laps to go and pull away for the victory. This was his Kenseth’s first Nationwide Series win of the season.
“What a great day for Fastenal and Ford Mustang. It was intense there. I cleared Carl the one time and he passed me right back. We had new tires and were able to get him there at the end. It was the first time I’ve driven a Mustang out there and just had a blast. I’m glad Trevor is feeling better and will be back next week, but I had a blast driving for him today.” said Kenseth in victory lane.
“It really wasn’t easy,” added Kenseth. “But the cars are just really fast. It feels good to beat Carl. He’s really one of the best out there and when you can beat him, you know you had a good game.”
Last week’s winner, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr sat the fast time in qualifying with a speed of 186.994. He led the first 41 laps, giving the lead over to Edwards. Stenhouse finished fourth.
“Our Fastenal Mustang was pretty solid all day. It was a top-five car all day, just not good enough to win.” Stenhouse said.
Kyle Busch was strong in the early running, but ended up with a third place finish. Two drivers that were in the top five all day ran into bad luck in the closing laps.
“We had a really good car there in the beginning and through the middle stages of the race. Unfortunately, we just weren’t fast enough there at the end.” Busch said.
Kevin Harvick was strong all day, but a front left fender rub, the result of a green flag restart, forced Harvick to pit road. He was able to battle back for a 16th place finish.
Kasey Kahne started 22nd, but showed that he had a strong car, working his way into the top five, but he had to pit with 10 laps to go for fuel and then got penalized for speeding on pit road. Kahne finished 22nd.
Reed Sorensen finished fifth. The remainder of the top ten were Brad Keslowski, Steve Wallace, Brian Scott, Aric Almirola and Elliott Sadler.
Toytota Camry driver and 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen made his NNS debut and finished 27th.
“It really turned out to be a really bad day with the handling just because I couldn’t get the car to turn and had to almost stop in the corners because it was pushing all the time. The same thing happened in the first and second practice and then we could improve it in the second practice, but somehow something is not right.” Raikkonen said.
As for his future plans, “My plan was always to do these first two races and then I have to go back to Europe and do some Rallies and then we will see what happens.”
Cole Whitt finished 15th in his NNS debut driving the No. 99 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Pastrana-Waltrip Racing.
“We had a good car for about two laps and that’s about it. I don’t know what happened. We had a really good race run car yesterday, but — I don’t know — it just slipped away from us here today. We just could never get the thing freed up.” Whitt said.
Sadler remains the points leader, but only by one point over Stenhouse and two points over Sorenson.