Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kenseth Wins MNBA 400 Pole Testing Aids Roush Driver

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kenseth Wins MNBA 400 Pole Testing Aids Roush Driver

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble, Times-Union sports writer

DOVER, Del. -- Matt Kenseth was the only driver to test at the Dover International Speedway two weeks ago, and that gave him a two-day head start on the other drivers on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Kenseth used that advantage yesterday in qualifying for the MBNA Platinum 400 and earned his first pole position on the day his car owner, Jack Roush, made an emotional return after suffering critical injuries in a plane crash six weeks ago.

"Anytime we qualify in the top 10, it's party time," Kenseth said after his DeWalt Ford was clocked at 154.938 mph. "We had a great test here a couple weeks ago and we learned a lot from that. Our car unloaded off the truck really good, and I felt like I got everything out of my car that I could get out of it. It was a good, solid lap."

Roush, who was revived after his plane crashed into a South Alabama pond on April 19, made his first public appearance since doctors surgically rebuilt his left leg following the crash. He was on crutches as he stood on pit road throughout time trials.

Kenseth, who is second in the point standings, had the fastest speeds during the practice session before qualifying. The pole is his first in 89 career Winston Cup starts.

"Actually, I'm surprised [the first pole position] came this soon," Kenseth said. "We've never really been good qualifiers and I need a pretty good car to be able to qualify good, so I really feel good about our car to win the pole by as much as we did."

A year ago, Kenseth didn't qualify in the top 10 in any race. Now he has three top-10 starts this year. Most of yesterday's success, he said, came from information gained during the solitude of a two-day test.

Although the team spent both days working on the race day set-up, they found enough ways to tweak his Taurus to make it fast for two laps in time trials. …

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