Kenseth blames poor restarts for disappointing result at Pocono Raceway
Largely overlooked in the hoopla of Kurt Busch's victory at Pocono Raceway on Monday was a bit of movement atop the board in terms of manufacturers.
Busch's victory was the first for a Chevrolet team since Jimmie Johnson won at Auto Club Speedway on March 20th. But Pocono was huge for the Bowtie Brigade, as Chevys from Stewart-Haas Racing (Busch) and Hendrick Motorsports-- Dale Earnhardt Jr., second; Chase Elliot, fourth; and Kasey Kahne, sixth -- took four of the top six spots.
Conversely, for the first time all season long, Toyota failed to place a single car in the top five.
Whether this signals a sea change on the manufacturer front is way too early to tell.
Pocono is not a track that's in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In fact, in the second half of the 26-race Sprint Cup regular season, the only track where the teams will race this summer and again in the Chase is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
And all five factory Toyota drivers are locked in to the Chase already by virtue of previous wins. So it's not as if winning at Pocono was critical.
Still, it was surprising not to see the Toyotas up front late in the race.
Matt Kenseth, one of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, led 31 laps in his Toyota and said his car was plenty fast, but ran into trouble on restarts throughout the race.
"We had a great race car. Just had really, really poor restarts and if I did have a good restart, then there was like somebody getting checked up in front of me and I'd lose more spots," said Kenseth. "I just gave them all up on restarts. Honestly, I think we had a car that could challenge for the win. I just couldn't figure out how to get to turn one."
Kenseth finished seventh, best among the Toyotas, but went away unhappy.
"I thought we were really competitive, but disappointing finish for how fast our car was for sure," he said.
Less sanguine about his outing was Carl Edwards, who finished just a single spot behind Kenseth but struggled most of the race.
"Just (a) tough day," said Edwards. "That's a tough race track right there. It's really hard to get an advantage on someone."