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  Matt Kenseth
Car number: 17 • Manufacturer: Ford • Sponsor: DeWalt Tools
Owner: Jack Roush • Team: Roush Racing • Crew Chief: Robbie Reiser

Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
2006 Season
Final Points Standing2nd
After First 26 Races1st
Earnings$9,544,966
Starts36
Poles0
Wins4
Top 515
6-106
Laps Led1,132
Lead Lap Finishes31
Bonus Points135
Races Led23
2007 Spin
As steady as they come, Matt Kenseth -- one of only three drivers to make the Chase in each year of its existence -- will once again figure into the Chase picture in 2007.

The DeWalt team appeared to be peaking at just the right time last season until a dropoff in performance reared its ugly head. A team that had recorded three wins, nine top 5s and 13 top 10s on the one- to two-mile ovals averaged an 11.5-place finish at its bread and butter tracks during the Chase. Not bad, but not championship material.

Had internal strife at Roush Racing permeated the Kenseth camp? Doubtful, but it brings to mind the old saying about the chain being only as strong as its weakest link.

Another sign that this team remains the healthiest of the Roushians is the fact that Kenseth was allowed to keep his crew chief. Robbie Reiser and Kenseth came on board at Roush as a pair, and it is difficult to imagine them apart. The fact that Jack Roush left the duo intact when he reassigned the others speaks volumes -- especially when one realizes how quick Roush is to pull the trigger on such changes.

We see no real problem for Kenseth adapting to the Car of Tomorrow. He is a great chassis guy who can tell Reiser what he needs to know to make the machine run faster. Add to that the fact that Kenseth will be the beneficiary of the best Roush has to offer, and it all adds up to another season of multiple wins and a bevy of top 10s.

Is a championship in the cards here? Possibly. This is an elite team that needs only to have the breaks fall its way.


2006 Recap
Matt Kenseth, chassis master extraordinaire, recovered from a near-disaster at Daytona to stay in the top 5 in the point standings for the remaining 35 races and ran neck-and-neck with Jimmie Johnson until the season's finale. Although he came up 56 points shy, it was an outstanding season for the 2003 Cup Champion.

Kenseth finished outside of the top 25 in only one race all season -- a 38th at the spring Richmond event. Otherwise, he made qualifying for the Chase look like a Sunday drive at the local go-kart shack. His regular-season average finish was a stout 9.5, collecting four wins, 15 top 5s and 21 top 10s.

The Chase was a slightly different story. For some reason, the handling on the cars went away, and Kenseth and Robbie Reiser could never quite find it. Most baffling was their inability to challenge on the intermediates, which had been Kenseth's bread and butter throughout the year. In the end, Kenseth, ever the realist, admitted defeat after a 13th at Phoenix, saying simply, "For some reason, our cars are just slow."

The Good: Matt Kenseth finished on the lead lap in 24 of the regular season's 26 races. It's consistency like this that keeps the Kenseth-Robbie Reiser tandem together and the DeWalt team a perennial championship contender.

The Bad: About Kenseth's only weakness is on the road courses, where the DeWalt Ford finished 17th and 21st last season.

The Ugly: During an epic slugfest at Dover with former teammate Jeff Burton, Kenseth ran out of fuel due to a rare fuel mileage miscalculation. Ouch.


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