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Publication: NASCAR News
Kenseth falls short again

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         NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kenseth falls short again during Johnson's streak
By Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

AVONDALE, Ariz. - Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have had 
dominant cars the past four weeks. But while Johnson has 
won four consecutive races, Kenseth has had to be satisfied 
with four top-five finishes, including a third-place effort 
in Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International 

"That is frustrating, but we've had four really great races 
in a row," Kenseth said. "It's hard to run in the top 10 
and it's really hard to run in the top five and if you can 
keep clicking off top-five finishes, that's really good. 

"I said it last week and I'll say it again: Even though 
it didn't come true, but if you keep putting yourself in 
position to win, you're gonna win races. I just wish it 
would happen pretty soon." 

How many wins would Kenseth have, if not for Johnson? It 
seems every time Kenseth has had a car capable of winning 
in recent weeks, Johnson's has been just that much better. 

"They're just unbelievably good," Kenseth said of the 
No. 48 team. "They're as good as any group that I've seen 
and that includes Jeff [Gordon] in his heyday -- not that 
Jeff still isn't in it but you know what I mean -- when 
he would win 10 races a year and win a championship by 
400 points. 

"It's just like that. They're so good. I don't know how 
you can put yourself in position to win every week like 
that. It's just amazing." 

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It's not that Kenseth hasn't tried everything in his power 
to break the streak. At Atlanta, he went with a four-tire 
stop but a couple of caution flags at the end of race took 
away any advantage he might have had in an effort to chase 
down Johnson, who went with two. 

At Texas, Kenseth opted for Johnson's strategy, going with 
two tires to grab track position. But he couldn't hold 
Johnson at bay with 34 laps to go -- getting passed for 
the win with two laps remaining. 

And on Sunday, Kenseth led the most laps (93), including 
building an advantage of more than 10 seconds over the 
competition during a long green-flag run late in the race. 
However, a caution for debris negated that effort -- and 
after stopping for two tires, came out second behind 
Martin Truex Jr. 

"We had a big lead there and there was so much debris out 
there we got that caution to get all of that cleaned up," 
Kenseth said. "I wish we could have run to the end, but 
yet even with that we still got lined back up and had a 
good pit stop and came out ahead of all the guys that got 
tires and I just couldn't get it done." 

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On the restart, Kenseth got bottled up behind the lapped 
car of Aric Almirola, and while he was dicing with the 
rookie, Johnson was able to close the gap. Once again -- 
just like Texas -- the two battled side-by-side with 
Johnson finally gaining the upper hand. 

"I just didn't have enough grip on two tires and that one 
lapped car kind of got in my way and Jimmie snuck by there,"
Kenseth said. "Once he snuck by, it was over and I just 
couldn't catch him." 

Starting 18th, Kenseth worked his way into the top 10 
following pit stops under caution for debris. Out of 
sequence with the majority of the lead-lap cars, Kenseth 
and crew chief Robbie Reiser then gambled on Lap 187, 
stopping for four tires and fuel under green. 

"It's kind of interesting when you're the guy out there on 
the oldest tires and people are blowing by you, and then 
when you come and get new tires, you catch them so fast 
and drive by them," Kenseth said. "If it works out for you, 
it's more fun because there are cars that are all kinds of 
different speeds. 

"These cars run so close to the same speed that when you 
get them on different tires, then you do a lot of passing 
and people are passing you a lot, so that makes it interest-
ing. You have to pay a lot of attention, but we really got 
lucky the way it worked out." 

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Kenseth went a lap down -- but his car was quicker than 
anyone else on the track. And by the time the rest of the 
leaders stopped, Kenseth was comfortably in front. 

"Robbie told me to pit, but then when everybody else was 
on the racetrack and we were on pit road he kind of wanted 
us to do what the leader did, so it actually worked out," 
Kenseth said. "We got lucky and that's what got our track 
position and got us to lead all those laps and be up there, 
so we got fortunate. 

"We had the track position. I thought all of the pit calls 
were right. We had great pit stops. We did everything 
right, we just got beat there at the end again." 

The battle with Johnson used up what was left of Kenseth's 
tires -- and teammate Greg Biffle was able to chase down 
the No. 17 for second. 

"We would have run side-by-side a lot longer and the way 
it looks, Greg would have probably caught us and passed 
us both because we would have probably used each other up 
pretty good," Kenseth said. 

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