CONCORD, N.C. — Being sent to the rear of the field prior to the start of the race and an early pit road penalty didn’t stop Matt Kenseth from flying under the radar to a runner-up finish in the Queen City.
The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was forced to start at the tail end of the field of the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway due to unapproved adjustments. He quickly worked his way through half the field prior to the first caution on lap 25.
However, he was among four drivers penalized for their crews being over the wall too soon, was sent right back to the tail end of the field and had to climb his way up all over again.
He remained under the radar the rest of the day until the final caution flew with 26 laps to go when teammate Denny Hamlin lost an engine on the fronstretch. He beat Jimmie Johnson off pit road to assume the race lead.
On the restart with 18 to go, however, he couldn’t hold back the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, lost the lead and settled for a runner-up finish.
“Yeah, it was a great second,” Kenseth said of his day. “I think this is one of the toughest tracks there is on the circuit to pass at. It was better during the day than it is at night and that’s a good thing, because we had to go to the back twice, so we were able to make up some ground and finish okay.”
On what fighting from the back to the front twice said about his team, Kenseth said after the race that his team “did a great job. Honestly, last two years in a row pretty much Charlotte has kind of taken us out of the Chase – mostly my doing, different things happening the last couple years here – so had a lot of problems last year, this year we had a lot of problems again, but we were able to kind of rebound from them and just kind of take our time. We knew it was a long day and they had good pit stops, good strategy and got us back where we needed to be there at the end.”
Kenseth leaves Charlotte second in the points standings five back of Johnson.