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Matt Kenseth looks forward to Indianapolis after a difficult last around from Sunday at Darlington

Matt Kenseth’s qualifying run looked excellent as he qualified in the Top 20 for the 5th out of nine times in 2018.

Can he go and steer the No.6 Ford Fusion home as consistent as possible?

Let’s find out to see how did Kenseth go at Darlington.

Race Recap

He began the race from 15th where he’s struggling with a lack of grip that saw him battle down in 24th.

When Kenseth made his first stop on Lap 49, the No.6 crew added tape & air pressure adjustment to try & gain better downforce.

The feedback he ran towards the end of Stage 1 ran okay having come home in 20th.

Stage 2

With the eye for further improvement next time around, more treatments are added to the No.6 car during the stage break.

But there’s still no grip as Kenseth experienced through Stage 1 after slipping from 19th to 22nd.

When Joey Gase crashed on Lap 127, Kenseth took a great opportunity to pit under yellow to evaluate what’s right and wrong.

With the help of the air pressure & wedge adjustment, his next run after the restart went a little better.

Although, after his green flag pit stop with 28 to go, there’s not much feedback expected from the No.6 car.

That’s where Kenseth went on to finish 23rd at the halfway stage.

Stage 3

Kenseth repeated the same process for treatment from the previous stage break before restarting in 21st.

He remained in 23rd with not much feedback through his next green flag pit stop on Lap 250.

But on the next scheduled stop on Lap 310, Kenseth and the No.6 team are busted by NASCAR.

It’s a commitment line violation that held them back to 27th.

Although, through the final three cautions, Kenseth barely moved two places before he came home 25th, three laps down.

2018 Southern 500 Loop Data Statistics

  • Start: 15th
  • Middle: 24th
  • Finish: 25th
  • Highest Run: 15th
  • Lowest Spot: 32nd
  • Average Spot: 23rd
  • Pass Difference: -16
  • Green Flag Passes: 60, Times Passed: 76
  • Quality Passes: Two, 3.3%
  • One Fastest Lap
  • Total Laps: 364/267
  • Driver Rating: 59.1

Matt Kenseth’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Record

He made 18 starts with both Roush Fenway & Joe Gibbs Racing in Speedway, Indiana since 2000.

The first two appearances may not have been his best start where he finished 26th on his debut followed by a crash in 2001.

In 2002, Kenseth scored his first Top 5 & 10 score from a mid-pack 18th to 3rd.

The following year, he came very close to winning at this track only to fall short behind Kevin Harvick.

2004 may have been inconsistent down in 16th.

But Kenseth did bounce back and struck three Top 10 finishes throughout 2005 to 2007.

From there, he did make back to back Top 5 finishes for the second time since 2002-03 where he finished:

  • 5th, 2005
  • 2nd, 2006

But that Top 5 streak ended alone in 2007 as Kenseth came home in 10th.

The next five of his stints at Roush for the first time is somewhat between up and down.

He only managed to achieve One Top 5 & Two Top 10 during that period before receiving his 2nd DNF in 2012 via a wreck since 2001.

Results

  • 38th, 2008
  • 10th, 2009
  • 12th, 2010
  • 5th, 2011
  • 35th, 2012 (Crash)

Since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing back in 2013, Kenseth racked up Five Straight Top 10 finishes.

Twice comes back to back Top 5 runs four times out of his recent five appearances except 2015 at Indianapolis.

Results

  • 5th, 2013
  • 4th, 2014
  • 7th, 2015
  • 2nd, 2016
  • 5th, 2017

He still managed to never win at this track before having finished runner-up three times in 2003, 2006 & 2016.

And speaking on his qualifying runs, Kenseth scored no higher than 9th in 2011.

Summary

  • 18 Starts
  • 2699 of 2902 Laps Completed, 93%
  • 60 Laps Led
  • Nine Top 5, 50%
  • 12 Top 10, 66.7%
  • Average Start: 18.7 & Finish: 12.7
  • DNF: Two

His 2018 Season So Far.

  • Nine Starts
  • 2126 of 2129 Laps Completed, 98.9%
  • Highest Starting Spot: 17th, May 2018 in Charlotte
  • Best Finish: 13th, June 2018 in Pocono
  • Average Start: 21.9 & Finish: 22.8
  • DNF: One, Crash (Kansas).

Results

  • 36th, Kansas
  • 17th, Charlotte
  • 13th, Pocono
  • 33rd, Michigan
  • 19th, Kentucky
  • 15th, New Hampshire
  • 18th, Pocono
  • 29th, Watkins Glen
  • 25th, Darlington

Conclusion

It’s great to see another fantastic qualifying run in the Top 15 before the race.

But on race day, Kenseth didn’t have the maximum speed possible to help keep an eye on the mid-pack throughout the night.

He would’ve liked to finish closer towards the Top 15 if NASCAR didn’t bust Kenseth with that penalty on his last green-flag stop.

That way the late cautions might’ve helped Kenseth finish closer to where he performed during qualifying.

It’s similar to how Kenseth took the wave around at one point before moving up three spots which is one of the only positive aspects taken throughout the night.

Next time, the No.6 car has to match the standard of the sister No.17 car that Stenhouse drove the other day.

His car looked real fast with consistent lap times alongside the Top 5 before finishing in 12th.

Kenseth and the No.6 crew are working hard to make that happen whatever how many races he has left this year.

He has to make it shine in all three days of action before Trevor Bayne comes back at Las Vegas next weekend.

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References

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