JUSTIN, TX (April 8, 2002) -- Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17
DeWalt Ford came from the back of the pack to win the Samsung
/ Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kenseth, who
qualified 31st but had to start from the rear of the pack due
to a late engine change took his time and had efficient pit
stops to end up in front of the field .888 seconds ahead of
the #24 Dupont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon. Rounding out the top
five were Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd, and Tony Stewart.
"It was a great run." Kenseth said today after posting his
second win of the season. He had won at Rockingham in the
second race of the 2002 season. "We were able to come from the
back because we were able to keep up with the changing track
conditions, and that was the key."
Robbie Reiser, crew chief for Kenseth also said that the
teamwork today was the key to winning in the Lone Star State.
"It's about the people," Reiser said. "The guys at the shop
who put these cars together for us are the best."
Even though Jeff Gordon finished second, he was happy with
that. It was his first top 5 in 14 races dating back to last
"It's a team effort and we worked for it," Gordon said. "Thank
God for this team, they never gave up."
The race, which was made up on Monday due to rains through out
the weekend, started off with pole sitter Bill Elliot leading
the first 17 laps of the race. It's the first race the #9
Dodge has led this season. Taking over on lap 18 was Ricky
Rudd in the #28 Havoline Ford who held the lead until the
first caution came out on lap 37. This caution was a NASCAR
mandated caution to check tire wear. This is normal at tracks
that are resurfaced between races and Texas Motor Speedway was
resurfaced back last June. Rudd won the race off pit road but
by lap 42, teammate Dale Jarrett went by him right along with
The second caution of the race came out on lap 50 for a right
rear window falling out of the #11 Hooters Ford of Brett
Bodine. He had to come back in get that replaced and ended up
going two laps down because of the mishap.
The race was going along smoothly until lap 172 when Ward
Burton in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge cut down a right front
tire and hit the turn one wall hard. He was ok but held in the
care center for x-rays on his neck for precaution. His car on
the other hand was a fiery mess and left Burton in the 43rd
position and done for the day.
Just as the race got underway again, on lap 185, Shawna
Robinson in the #49 Boomtown Casino & Hotel Dodge and race
favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. got tangled up and sent Earnhardt
Jr. spinning around and pounding the turn 1 wall. Robinson was
underneath Jr. but as they went into turn 1 he went down and
she didn't. That wreck cost him valuable points as he finished
in 42nd place.
After Earnhardt Jr. came out of the care center he spoke
somewhat highly of Robinson.
"She's a good race car driver." Earnhardt said. "They need to
get her in a better race car so she could be more competitive
because it's hard dodging her every 15 laps."
One of the biggest disappointments today was this
race-defending champion, Dale Jarrett. The driver of the #88
UPS Ford ran out of gas on lap 225. By the time he had made it
down to pit road and completed his pit stop, not only had he
lost the lead but also two laps. Jarrett got on the radio to
his crew and angrily said "How could have this possibly
happened to a car that had a chance to win the race" He ended
up 3 laps down and in 24th place.
On lap 239 Robby Gordon in the #31 Cingular Chevrolet cut a
right front tire and that sent him into the wall. He was able
to drive the car back to the garage but was left with a 41st
On lap 253, Raybestos Rookie of the year contender, Ryan
Newman, in the #12 Alltel Ford blows his engine and brings out
another caution. Newman finished in the 40th position.
On that exchange of pit stops, Tony Stewart, in the #20 Home
Depot Pontiac opted to take on 2 tires and fuel with 80 laps
left. So did Matt Kenseth and he kept in pace with Stewart and
when the race restarted, Kenseth jump out to almost a 4 second
lead on the Home Depot Pontiac.
On lap 308 the winner at Bristol, Kurt Busch, in the #97
Sharpie Ford had a tire going down and when he tried to get to
pit road, he spun out instead, bringing out the final caution
of the day.
As the leaders came down for this final pit stop, Kenseth
faked a 4-tire change and went with 2 right sides. So did
Spencer, Gordon, Wallace, & Rudd. Only Mark Martin, Tony
Stewart and the #48 car of Jimmie Johnson, another candidate
for Rookie of the Year honors, decided to take on 4 tires with
Stewart getting the short end of the stick.
It ended up being a two-legged race between Kenseth and Gordon
with Mark Martin closing in. In the end Kenseth, who had only
taken two right side tires and also started last took the
checkered flag first.
With Kenseth's victory this makes the sixth different driver
to win in the six races at Texas Motor Speedway.
Now it's on to Martinsville for the Virginia 500 where Dale
Jarrett is the defending champion.
can be sent to email@example.com
to discuss this article