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Being ahead of Big One proved pivotal for Kenseth

October 08, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com



Being ahead of Big One proved pivotal for Kenseth

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Ride around at the back, or charge to the front? When it comes to avoiding the large-scale accidents that tend to plague Talladega Superspeedway, Matt Kenseth ended that argument Sunday afternoon.

The Roush Fenway driver was in position to win his second restrictor-plate event of this season because he was up front when it mattered most -- when Tony Stewart drifted down into Michael Waltrip and ignited a 25-car crash that wiped out a number of contenders and allowed Kenseth to run away to the checkered flag.

UPS... Game Changing Moments

Stewart had led the previous lap, with Kenseth right behind him at the white flag. But headed into the final two corners, Kenseth went up the track and received a healthy shove from Kevin Harvick -- which proved the game-changing moment that kept the No. 17 car out of harm's way when Stewart went sideways and set off the chaos that followed. There are few safe places at Talladega, but Sunday the lead on the final lap proved one of them.

"We go try to qualify the best we can, go out and try to lead the most laps if we can, and put ourselves in a position to win the race and not really worry about all that," Kenseth said. "As you saw today, and we've seen a lot of times, there isn't a safe place. Tony had just passed me or may have been second when he got wiped out, so you've got to go race sooner or later. The last lap is the last lap, and everybody is trying to get to the front, so I'd rather already be there if we can be."

The victory continued a stellar run for Kenseth this season on plate tracks, where he hasn't finished worse than third. He's held the lead on the last lap in all four of those events, winning the Daytona 500, and letting two others get away -- until Sunday, when he was in the right place when everything went crazy behind him.

"The plate stuff has just been unbelievable this year," he said. "All four plate races, they put me in a position to win. I really felt like I let them down here last time on the move I made or didn't make, and at Daytona again we had a shot to win that thing and messed it up at the end and got beat by Tony. So I'm really proud to be in Victory Lane with these guys."