With wins in the last two races at New Hampshire prior to Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300, confidence was high among Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 team that a three-peat was a strong possibility, but the team would have to settle for a runner-up finish instead after their strong run was undone by late cautions.
Taking the lead for the first time at lap 179 from his defacto teammate Martin Truex, Jr., who had led 141 of those first 178 laps, Kenseth looked to be the man to beat over the second half of the race, leading 53 laps in that first stint up front and retaking the lead at lap 243 for another 52 laps at the point.
Just as a third straight win looked like it might be a lock as Kenseth was pulling away from Kevin Harvick, the final caution of the day flew at lap 292, setting up a five lap dash for the win and giving the field one more shot at eclipsing Kenseth and denying the three-peat. Unfortunately for Kenseth, the final restart would be his undoing as Harvick was able to get the jump on the restart and held the advantage all the way to the checkered flag.
While Harvick clinched a berth in the Round of 12, Kenseth and his team will have to move on to Dover and race their way into the next round.
“We were pretty good today. These guys did a good job, but we just didn’t get that last adjustment in and got loose trying to hold off Martin (Truex Jr.) – the 78 (Truex) was better than we were and I just burned the right-rear off trying to hold him off. The last restart was my fault. The one before that I thought I did right and we heard from the tower down that they thought I slowed up before I restarted or something, so the last one I let Kevin (Harvick) lay back on me, which we’re supposed to be side-by-side. I should have known better. I should have just went really late in the zone and wait until he had to get up to my nose because he anticipated it just right and laid back. Plus I spun the tires and I got beat through one and two and then it was over,” said Kenseth.
“You always want to win. I thought we had a top-two or three car today, but we didn’t win. They put me in position to do that and I let them down there so I feel bad about that. We ran good last week and we ran decent today too so we’ll just go to Dover and try to race them there.”
Heading to Dover, Kenseth holds a 26 point advantage over the Chase cutoff to advance and will be looking for the season sweep at the Monster Mile after winning at the track back in May. In 35 starts, Kenseth has three wins (2006, 2011, and May 2016), 16 top-five finishes, 23 top-10 finishes, three poles, 904 laps led, and an average finish of 13.0 at the track.