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Matt Kenseth takes Sprint Cup victory at Dover

Matt Kenseth earns his 20th Sprint Cup victory, becoming the 35th driver to win that many times in NASCAR’s top series. The 2003 champion is 11th among active drivers on the wins list.

Associated Press

Matt Kenseth earns his 20th Sprint Cup victory, becoming the 35th driver to win that many times in NASCAR’s top series. The 2003 champion is 11th among active drivers on the wins list.

DOVER, Del. — Matt Kenseth's first idea was to skip pit road, take a chance he could lead on a restart and hang on for a victory.

Then, he had another thought. Why not just take two tires on pit road instead of four?

With his No. 17 Ford on the jack, Kenseth called the audible over the radio and told crew chief Jimmy Fennig he wanted two.

"Two tires! Two tires!" Fennig said.

That was the perfect strategy to win Sunday's FedEx 400 Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

Kenseth led the final 32 laps, becoming the third driver to win twice this season. Under NASCAR's new Chase for the Championship rules, in which the top 10 in points plus the two drivers 11-20 with the most victories qualify, Kenseth strengthened his bid to make the field.

"My mind is to be up there and try to lead those points going into the Chase and try to make the Chase in championship form," Kenseth said. " … We want to go up there and race like this every week."

Mark Martin was second and Marcos Ambrose third. Kyle Busch, who was forced to start in the rear of the field because of an engine change, was fourth.

Kenseth, who made his Cup debut at Dover in 1998 as a fill-in for Bill Elliott, won for the second time on the high-banked, 1-mile concrete track.

"It's one of those tracks that's a challenge to get around fast, whether you're racing someone or not," Kenseth said.

Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards waged a two-car battle for the majority of the race. Edwards led 117 laps before falling to seventh. Johnson led a race-high 207 but finished ninth, failing in his bid to match the series record of seven Dover wins.

Zephyrhills' David Reutimann finished 15th.

Edwards took four tires on the last restart and fell to ninth, spoiling his chance at the win.

"That is too tough of a choice to make right there and I don't blame (crew chief) Bob Osborne one bit," Edwards said.

Busch and 10th-place Kevin Harvick had no incidents after a pit road dustup at Darlington landed them on probation.

Martin stayed out on old tires to take the lead when the caution flag came out with 39 laps left. Kenseth made his two-tire stop and passed Martin on the restart.

Martin earned his first top-five of the season.

"Today, we finally got a finish," he said. "It looked like we were going to get 15th again with a really fast race car."

Kenseth said he had trouble during long stretches of green-flag racing because the rubber that built on the track made the concrete slick. When the short runs started coming, he found a cleaner track and clean air was enough to spark his run.

Kenseth has four top fives this season for Roush Fenway Racing including a win in April at Texas, giving him the confidence that another victory was coming.

"The whole organization has been building better, faster race cars," Kenseth said.

Matt Kenseth takes Sprint Cup victory at Dover 05/15/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 15, 2011 11:49pm]
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