Kenseth Does the Double at California Speedway
Matt Kenseth tears up some sod to celebrate his win in the Auto Club 500. More pictures in the Photo Gallery at the end of this page.
FONTANA, CA (February 25, 2007) - Matt Kenseth speaks softly. He let's his driving do the talking.
He did it again Sunday at California Speedway, repeatedly holding off the challenges of some of NASCAR’s biggest names.
After David Reutimann crashed hard into the outside wall less than 10 laps from the finish, Kenseth returned to the front of the field out of the pits and held off Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton for five furious laps over the two-mile track.
He had previously held off hard-charging Kevin Harvick, the Daytona 500 champion, who was also poised to make a run at Kenseth’s Ford down the stretch. Harvick's Chevy, however, had a flat left front tire as the cars were coming to the green flag. His stop knocked him back to 17th finish position.
Kenseth's Sunday win came on the heels of a Saturday night victory in a NASCAR Busch Series race.
Rounding out the top 10 were ageless Mark Martin in fifth, Clint Bowyer sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Tony Stewart eighth, Kyle Busch ninth and Brian Vickers 10th.
Vickers, who failed to qualify his new Red Bull Toyota for the Daytona 500, was in contention throughout the day.
Kenseth earned his win the hard way, leading the most laps.
The race was only eight laps old when Scott Riggs lost control of his Dodge and slammed into the outside "safer" wall, collecting Jamie McMurray and Reed Sorensen in the aftermath.
Just a few laps after the restart, hard-luck Martin Truex Jr. lost an engine in turn one, trailing smoke like a truck spewing mosquito spray.
Truex's teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a flat tire on the restart and rookie David Ragan spun to bring the caution out again. Earnhardt lost a lap while limping around to his pit.
As some of the lead cars started making pit stops after 50 laps, Sterling Marlin brought out the day's fourth caution when something odd happened to his car on the straightaway. A right rear tire went flat, spinning Marlin's machine into the outside wall.
Harvick, who came out of the pits in third place, was sent to the rear of the field before the restart for speeding on pit road.
Kenseth maintained his lead for just a few laps after the restart when Stewart motored to the front.
Fan favorite Earnhardt fell off the pace with engine problems and ended his day at 70 laps. Kasey Kahne also had engine problems.
Kenseth once again took the lead off pit road after the fifth caution flag fell for debris on the track. Stewart was once again in hot pursuit.
At the midpoint of the race, it was Kenseth, Stewart, Johnson, Bowyer, Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Vickers and Martin.
The Race: Auto Club 500
The Place: California Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Feb. 25
The Time: 4:30 p.m. (AT) / 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 2-mile oval
Distance: 500 miles (250 laps)
2006 Winner: Matt Kenseth
2006 Pole: Kurt Busch
Pre-Race Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 190; 2. Mark Martin 175; 3. Jeff Burton 165; 4. Mike Wallace 160;
5. David Ragan 155; 6. David Gilliland 147; 7. Joe Nemechek 138; 8. Jeff Gordon 134; 9. David Stremme 130; 10. J.J. Yeley 130.
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (Local Time): Friday—Practice, 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 11-11:50 a.m.; Final Practice, 2:20-3:20 p.m.
Practice: Friday, February 23 (SPEED at 3:30 p.m. AT, 2:30 p.m. ET)
Qualifying: Friday, February 23 (SPEED at 6:30 p.m. AT, 5:30 p.m. ET)
Practice: Saturday, February 24 (SPEED at 3 p.m. AT, 2 p.m. ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, February 24 (SPEED at 6 p.m. AT, 5 p.m. ET)
Pre-Race: Sunday, February 25 (SPEED at 2 p.m. AT, 1 p.m. ET)
Race: Sunday, February 25 (FOX at 4 p.m. AT, 3 ET)
2/22: Auto Club 500 Storylines
2/23: Friday Practice Results (PDF)
2/23: Qualifying Order (PDF)
2/23: Qualifying Results (PDF)
2/23: Hauler Chatter: Auto Club 500 Bud Pole Winner - Jeff Gordon
2/24: Auto Club 500 Starting Lineup (PDF)
2/24: Saturday First Practice Results (PDF) - Bowyer top of chart
2/24: Saturday Final Practice Results (PDF) - Johnson top of chart
2/25: Race Results (PDF)
2/25: Point Standings (PDF)
Auto Club 500 Notes
- Matt Kenseth won the Auto Club 500, his 15th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory in 258 races.
- Kenseth had the top California Speedway Driver Rating (110.1) coming into this race.
- This is Kenseth’s first win since the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 26, 2006.
- This is Kenseth’s second consecutive win at the Auto Club 500 and second career California Speedway victory.
- Kenseth’s starting position of 25th is tied for second lowest starting position by a California Speedway race winner
Kenseth holds the record with a 31st place start last year.
- Kenseth’s win is the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup-NASCAR Busch Series sweep in as many weeks.
- The last time back-to-back weekend sweeps occurred was September 2006 when Kasey Kahne won the both
races at California on Sept. 2-3, followed by Kevin Harvick winning both at Richmond the following weekend on
Sept. 8-9. That was the third consecutive week-end sweep following Kenseth’s sweep at Bristol Aug. 25-26.
- This is Kenseth’s second career weekend sweep.
- Kenseth with two joins Jeff Gordon (three) as the only drivers with more than one California Speedway victory.
- Kenseth now has four straight top 10s at California Speedway.
- Jeff Gordon won the Bud Pole for the Auto Club 500 - his 57th Budweiser Pole in 475 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races - with a time of 38.76 seconds and a speed of 185.73 mph.
- This is Gordon's second Bud Pole at California Speedway (1998).
- Gordon now joins Kurt Busch (both 2006 races) as the only drivers who have won more than one Bud Pole at California Speedway.
- Gordon has three wins at California Speedway (1997, 1999, 2004), more than any other driver.
- No driver has ever won a California Speedway race from the Bud Pole (there was no qualifying in 1999 - weather. Jeff Burton started from the pole and finished second).
- Gordon's average start is now 11.786 at California Speedway.
- Brian Vickers was the top qualifier who had to make it in on time.
- There have been 13 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at California Speedway since the track opened in 1997.
- Matt Kenseth is defending Auto Club 500 champion. Kasey Kahne won last September’s race.
- There have been 10 different winners in the last 10 races at California.
- Seven of the last 10 races at California Speedway have been won from starting positions outside the top 15, including this event last year when Matt Kenseth won from the 31st starting position. It was the deepest starting position of a California race winner.
- Two races at California have been run beyond the 250-lap scheduled distance: 2005 Sony HD 500 (254 laps) and 2006 Auto Club 500 (251).
- Rick Hendrick has posted five wins at California Speedway, the most of any car owner. Those five wins were scored by Jeff Gordon (three), Jimmie Johnson (one) and Kyle Busch (one).
- Roush Fenway Racing has posted four victories here: Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.
- 11 different drivers have won the Budweiser Pole in the 12 qualifying races at California (only Kurt Busch is a repeat winner)
- Carl Edwards has posted five straight top-10 finishes at California
- Kurt Busch has three straight top-five starts at California
- Kyle Busch has three straight top-10 finishes at California
- In his only two starts at California, Denny Hamlin has started in the top 10
- Kasey Kahne has three straight top-five finishes (two straight top-five finishes)
- Matt Kenseth has three straight top-five finishes
- Mark Martin has six straight top-15 finishes
- Last year’s pole winner: Kurt Busch (187.086 mph, 38.485 seconds)
- Last year’s race winner: Matt Kenseth (147.852 mph, 3 hours, 23 minutes, 43 seconds, 2-26-06)
- Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch (188.435 mph, 38.248 seconds, 2-23-05)
- Track race record: Jeff Gordon (155.012 mph, 3 hours, 13 minutes, 32 seconds, 6-22-97)
- Races won from the pole: 0 of 13 events
- Races won from inside the top 10: 6 of 13 (46%)
- Races won from outside the top 10: 7 of 13 (54%)
- Joe Nemechek won the Budweiser Pole for the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at California Speedway in 1997.
- Jeff Gordon won the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at California on June 22, 1997.
- September 2004 was the first night race at California Speedway and also the first time there were two races a year at the track.
Jeff Gordon won the Budweiser Pole Award for the race, starting first and finishing second.
Football legend Troy Aiken (left) and movie star Kevin Costner (right) were Grand Marshall's for the event, with Costner
giving the start engines command and Aiken waving the green flag to start the race.
Aiken waves the green flag to start the Auto Club 500.
Matt Kenseth leads the pack en route to his win.
Kenseth celebrates for the fans by tearing up some sod doing donuts...
Victory Lane celebrations for Kenseth and team.
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