By Denise N. Maloof, CNNSI.com
"There is a lot of competition and I wasn't really thinking about winning until the end of the race, really."|
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Traffic? What traffic?
That was Matt Kenseth's motto Sunday at North Carolina Speedway, where he rebounded from a 25th-place start to win the Subway 400.
The Roush Racing driver claimed his second career Winston Cup victory, and a bit of history. He did it from the third-furthest starting position in the history of Cup events at The Rock, which dates to 1965. And Sunday's win also ended a personal drought. Kenseth's first Cup victory came 59 races ago, on May 28, 2000 at Charlotte.
"You're never sure," he said. "This is only the second one of these things I've been able to win and it's really difficult. There is a lot of competition and I wasn't really thinking about winning until the end of the race, really."
Anonymity suited Kenseth just fine at the green flag. But by lap 20, he'd climbed 11 spots to 14th. By lap 40, he'd entered the top 10. Even though Kenseth slipped to third with 13 laps remaining, his still proved to be the car to beat. After his closest pursuers, second-place finisher Sterling Marlin and third-place finisher Bobby Labonte had to dodge an oil spill on lap 389, Kenseth was home free.
Plus, he wasn't his team's only winner Sunday. His crew, which won last fall's pit-crew challenge at Rockingham, consistently kept him in the forefront during pit stops, and they had ample opportunities; there were nine cautions.
"It's definitely a team effort," Kenseth said. "You can't do anything in this business without other people."
"Matt Kenseth's one hell of a race driver," crew chief Robbie Reiser said. "We got better and better and worked our way back up there. This is pretty cool."