By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Like a strange scene out of a ‘B-Rated’ Comedy movie, Matt Kenseth’s Federated Auto Parts 400 ended because of an ambulance. Kenseth, who had been battling for a much-needed victory, came close to seeing his title chances evaporate after 257 laps.
No one could have predicted the chain of events that would befall Kenseth’s No. 20 Hurricane Harvey Relief Toyota Camry. It started when Austin Dillon punted Danica Patrick entering turn one. Patrick went for a long, lazy spin that brought out a caution, however, she kept going.
Meanwhile, two safety vehicles rolled without a call from NASCAR’s control tower. As the safety truck and the ambulance circuited the track on the apron, both missed their turn-in. The ambulance stopped at the entrance of pit road, which was open, just as the field was entering. With spotters calling out a warning, several drivers slammed on their brakes, including Kenseth, but it was too late. He rear-ended Clint Bowyer’s Ford Fusion. The hit damaged Kenseth’s radiator beyond repair, ending his night.
— r/NASCAR on Reddit (@NASCARonReddit) September 10, 2017
Kenseth was baffled as to why pit road was open,
“Well we were all just kind of coming to pit road and I saw an ambulance sitting there and so I looked left of the ambulance at the same time (Jason) Hedlesky (spotter) yelled at everyone to stop there was an ambulance just sitting there. It was an accordion effect and I just couldn’t get stopped. Not really sure why pit road was open with an ambulance parked there, but everybody stopped and I didn’t see it in time and ran into the car in front of me.”
Only a new winner not inside the top-16 could bump Kenseth, who was on the bubble entering Richmond, from the Playoffs. It came close as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. assumed the lead during green flag pit stops. At one point, Kenseth had just one point on Jamie McMurray thanks to finishes of fourth and second in the first two stages. Ultimately, Earnhardt never got the caution he was hoping for, and Kyle Larson earned his fourth win of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Kenseth was frustrated that he was not on track to end the race,
“We’re not out there to end the race so that was frustrating. We were pretty decent early on and kind of lost the handle again kind of like the last race once we got back in traffic. I shouldn’t have been back there to start with and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten in a wreck.”
Despite the early exit, Kenseth was able to have a little fun on Twitter after the race, posting this humorous tweet after getting caught behind another ambulance.
— Matt Kenseth (@mattkenseth) September 10, 2017
After the Playoff seeding, Kenseth (15th) is tied for 11th in points, 48-points behind Martin Truex, Jr.
Now Kenseth and his entire Joe Gibbs Racing team will look to Chicagoland Speedway, where they hope to simply put Richmond in their rearview mirror.