2009-02-26 / Sports

Matt Kenseth Gets Second Win In A Row

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Matt Kenseth and car owner Jack Roush celebrate Sunday's California win. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Matt Kenseth and car owner Jack Roush celebrate Sunday's California win. Photo courtesy of NASCAR FONTANA, Calif. - Matt Kenseth showed Sunday he still knows how to drive a race car.

Winless in 2008, Kenseth backed up his victory in the season opening Daytona 500 by holding off Jeff Gordon in Sunday's Auto Club 500 Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

"I've got to thank these guys in the pit," said Kenseth. "They gave me a good pit stop and I was able to get out first in the clean air. That was a huge difference."

With a lightning-fast pit stop, Kenseth's crew made sure his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was first off pit road for a restart on lap 216, after Kevin Harvick slammed the turn 1 wall to cause the fifth and final caution on lap 208 of the 250-lap race.

Kenseth, who won for the 18th time in the Cup Series, stayed in front the rest of the way and beat Gordon to the finish line by 1.463 seconds to become the fifth driver in Cup history to win the first two races of a season. Gordon was the last to do it in 1997, at Daytona and Rockingham.

"This is a new team and they showed it tonight," said Gordon. "I'm really pumped up this season. We've got a little bit of work to do, but I'm so excited."

Kyle Busch's bid for an unprecedented weekend sweep of three major NASCAR touring series events on one weekend at any track came up short as he finished third.

"It was less than a stellar race," said Busch. "It was a good run, we had a shot but Matt was so strong. It was tough, but we're going to Las Vegas really excited."

Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-10 finishers.

The engine and right front tire blew on Harvick's Chevrolet on lap 208, and he retired from the race, ending a modern-era record streak of 81 races without a DNF.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin suffered rare engine failures; they finished 39th and 40th, respectively.

Top-10 Sprint Cup leaders after 2 of 36: 1. Kenseth-385, 2. J. Gordon-304, 3. Kurt Busch-294, 4. Stewart-294, 5. Biffle-268, 6. Bowyer-266, 7. Waltrip-264, 8. Ragan-262, 9. Edwards-260, 10. Montoya-256

Kyle Busch gets double win

Kyle Busch picked up right where he left off in 2008, as he scored wins in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

"This is awesome, and to win here twice in one day is even more special," said Busch, who now has five wins across NASCAR's top-three series at Fontana - two in the Nationwide Series, two in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the Sprint Cup Series. "I wouldn't be able to do it without all these guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. This Toyota Camry was just flawless and I can't thank them enough."

Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 2 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-360, 2. Edwards-340, 3. Harvick-305, 4. Ragan-297, 5. Vickers-297, 6. Reutimann-273, 7. Logano-268, 8. Gaughan-256, 9. Keller-255, 10. Biffle-221

Top-10 Truck leaders after 2 of 25 races: 1. Busch-370, 2. T. Bodine 365, 3. Crafton-293, 4. Peters- 288, 5. Hornaday-285, 6. Bell-285, 7. Skinner-281, 8. McCumbee- 276, 9. Starr-272, 10. Cook-253.

Walking around Daytona

Each year I come away from the races at Daytona tired. It's because I walk so much. The Daytona infield is a pretty big place, and NASCAR doesn't furnish buses or trolleys to ferry around the news media.

No sir, if you are with the press, and you want to get from one end of the garage area to the other, you hoof it.

The drivers and television crews have electric golf cars they zip around on, but the ones who write for the print media are at the bottom of the pile, and God forbid, if one of us should try to sneak a ride on the back of a cart reserved for Jimmie Johnson, or Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR would take away your press credentials.

But that's missing the point.

We need to walk a lot more in this country.

If we walked more and drove less, then maybe we could become less dependent on Middle East oil.

I walk all the time at tracks and ride all the time when I'm home. Believe me the next couple days after getting back from a three-day weekend at a track I feel better. Maybe it's because I've walked more than I would if I was seated at my desk at home.

Have you seen these little two-wheel riding machines that the police are using to patrol downtown areas and shopping malls? I tried to get my wife to buy me one for Christmas so I could drive between rooms in our house, but she was afraid I would hurt myself going up the stairs on it.

Let's face it. We are slaves to our automobiles and the gas they run on. We are snared by the big oil companies, and no matter what they charge, we are going to pay their prices to get around.

I could walk the half-mile to our nearest Circle-K for a loaf of bread.

The Waffle House where I like to eat isn't much farther.

And I could walk to a friend's house, which is just three doors down at the foot of the hill, but I don't.

I hate to admit it, but the most walking I do is at the race tracks on the weekend. Maybe that's why I gained 18 pounds over the winter.

Let's wake up America. If we did more walking and less riding, we would be cutting down on the amount of oil our country imports, and it would help our health.

Next Week: Pulse of the Camping World Truck Series

Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams will be at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Speedway. The Trucks have an off week.

Sat., Feb. 28, Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300, Starting time: 4:30 p.m. (EST); TV: ESPN2.

Sun., Mar. 1, Sprint Cup Shelby 427, Starting time: 4:30 p.m. (EST: TV: Fox

Racing trivia question: What was the total driver purse of the 2009 Daytona 500?

Last week's question: Who is the driver of the No. 14 Cup car? Answer. Tony Stewart.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@earthlink.net.

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