Kenseth continues Roush dominance in Busch

By wire services
Published May 7, 2005

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Matt Kenseth took control in the second half of the race and pulled away to a convincing victory Friday in the first NASCAR Busch series event under the lights at Darlington Raceway.

The 2003 Nextel Cup champion, a part-time Busch driver, earned his 18th series victory and first since Atlanta in October. He led 50 of 147 laps in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on the 1.366-mile oval. It was his second win at Darlington.

"This is a great racetrack," Kenseth said in Victory Lane. "It's one of the most fun race tracks we ever come to."

Kenseth started 24th in the 43-car field, but worked his way forward and took the lead for the first time on Lap 96. He dominated the rest of the way - leading all but two of the last 52 laps - to give team owner Jack Roush his fifth Busch victory in 11 races this season. Mark Martin has won twice and Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle once each for Roush.

"Really, we had a great handling car on the long runs and that was the key," Kenseth added. "The first couple of stops were just okay, but the last two, my guys did a great job and they got me the lead."

The sixth and final caution came out on Lap 136 when Paul Menard hit the wall. That gave Kenny Wallace and defending Busch champion Martin Truex one last shot at the leader, but Kenseth's No. 17 Ford was too strong.

"It's one of those deals where I'm always so close," said Wallace, who last won in 2001 and finished .342 seconds - about 3 car lengths - behind the winner this time. "I just got beat at the end. No excuse. I was driving my heart out."

Truex, a two-time winner this year, was happy with his run.

"I was just off at the start and made adjustments," said Truex, who got off to a slow start this season. "We were just one pit stop away from being perfect. But we won last week (at Talladega) and third here. We're on the comeback trail."

On the final caution, Kenseth appeared to be heading for the pits and Jeff Burton, in sixth, followed. Kenseth suddenly veered back onto the track, retaining the lead, and Burton continued into the pits for fresh tires, falling to 10th. He charged back after the green flag on Lap 141 to finish fifth, just behind Biffle.

Kahne nudges Newman for Nextel Cup pole

Kasey Kahne earned his second NASCAR Nextel Cup pole in three tries at Darlington, easily beating qualifying ace Ryan Newman in time trials for tonight's Dodge Charger 500.

Kahne, a second-year Cup driver, earned the pole here last spring and finished 13th. He started 13th last fall on the 1.366-mile oval and ran fifth in the final Southern 500.

"We've had some success here, but it's a pretty tough track and it can bite you," Kahne said. "It's gotten me a couple of times. I've run into the wall a couple of times, but not too hard, yet."

His Evernham Motorsports Dodge ran at 170.024 mph for his fifth career pole. Newman, who has started on the pole three times in 10 races this year, made it an all-Dodge front row at 169.555.

"It was on the edge and I didn't expect it to get loose where it did," Newman said of his run. "Kasey laid down a great lap. He was nice and smooth, and we weren't quite as smooth or fast."

Kahne and Newman were followed by the Fords of Greg Biffle at 169.222 and Elliott Sadler at 168.665, and the Chevrolets of Brian Vickers at 168.607 and rookie Kyle Busch at 168.089.

Defending series champion Kurt Busch - Kyle's older brother and the current series runnerup - was 11th at 167.550. Jeff Gordon, the leading active driver with six Darlington victories, was 14th.