Kenseth wins NASCAR Subway 400

Feb. 24, 2002 at 5:49 PM
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ROCKINGHAM, N.C., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Matt Kenseth went from third to first in less than a lap to take the lead with five laps remaining en route to victory at Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Subway 400.

Kenseth, who dominated the race past the halfway point, lost the lead during the final round of pit stops on lap 366. That was during a caution period after the engine in Mike Skinner's car blew up. Kenseth, who earned his second career Winston Cup title, led the leaders down pit road but Ricky Craven decided to stay on the track to assume the lead.

Craven, the pole-winner, was in the lead when the green flag waved on lap 369. Kenseth had the fresher tires but went high up the track. That allowed Sterling Marlin to get in position to battle Craven for the lead. Marlin took the lead when he went under Craven on lap 374.

The yellow flag waved on lap 388 for a piece of debris on the race track from a crash involving Robby Gordon two laps earlier.

Rather than red-flag the race, NASCAR allowed the final four laps to be run under caution which gave Kenseth the victory over Marlin.

Kenseth won the race by 0.418-seconds over Marlin's Dodge because the race ended under the yellow flag. Bobby Labonte's Pontiac was third followed by his teammate, Tony Stewart. Craven's Ford was fifth.

Kenseth is a third-year Winston Cup regular who drives for Roush Racing. He scored his first career victory in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

Kenseth won the race with an average speed of 115.464 miles per hour.

"I thought when the 32 stayed out, I was in the worst position we could be," Kenseth said. "We just got really lucky. I don't know what happed with Sterling and Bobby Labonte, I just held the throttle to the floor and got it to the line. Three stops from the end, we went the wrong way, but at the end, we knew where to go on the car."

Marlin and Labonte said their cars got into some oil left on the race track, which caused them to lose grip. Kenseth was able to capitalize on that situation to make the winning pass.

Labonte's third-place finish was a result of having his car work the best at the end of the race.

Craven's tire gamble at the end of the race did not pay off.

David Bryant, the front tire carrier for Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet, sustained a broken right leg during the first series of pit stops. He was transported to First Health Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham for X-rays and later was transported to the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for treatment.

NASCAR president Mike Helton explained after the race why the event ended under yellow rather than red-flag the race to ensure a green-flag finish.

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