Knowing there was no chance of him taking down Kevin Harvick on four tires, Matt Kenseth went for the track position with a two-tire stop under a caution with 10 laps left in Saturday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
The decision enabled him to get ahead of Harvick, but not for long. A restart with 5 to go didn’t yield a conclusion as debris in Turn 3 sent the race into Green-White-Checkered mode.
It ultimately took two G-W-C attempts before Harvick charged to the win, while Kenseth ended up fourth when it was all over.
“Multiple attempts there hurt us a little bit,” said Kenseth. “We had a real good restart the second time. Kevin obviously had the dominant car and we weren’t going to beat him on four tires.
“We put two tires on and hoped to get lucky and pull one out, and I think that’s about where we finished anyway, so I thought it was a great call.”
The fourth-place result was also a great recovery after failing to advance from the first round of knockout qualifying on Friday afternoon and being forced to start 25th on the grid.
Kenseth was already into the Top 10 by Lap 50, but then vaulted to second with a two-tire stop in time for a Lap 64 restart, in which he took the lead away from Denny Hamlin.
Harvick would do the same to Kenseth however on Lap 76, as he settled in for a long run at the front. Meanwhile, Kenseth would fall into the lower reaches of the Top 10 before rising back among the leaders late.
“We went back and forth,” he said. “We were better than I thought we were going to be – I was pretty pleased with it really. There was three or four cars, five cars really in the playing field we couldn’t run with.
“I thought we made great adjustments tonight and had good pit stops. We did a ton of adjustments in the pits and came up with a good finish.”