Mustang Wins Again In Grand-AM and Kenseth Posts Top-Five Finishes
DEARBORN, Mich., April 22 – Tom Nastasi and Ian James raced the No. 5 Mustang FR500C to a third-straight victory in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series and Matt Kenseth was the top-finishing Fusion driver in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series.
Going into the weekend’s Grand-Am race at Iowa Speedway, Nastasi and James were unsure that it would be a track dominated by the Mustang, but that theory went out the window as Mustang’s occupied five of the top 10 spots of the race.
“Obviously, when we first came here in the first session, we didn’t think it would potentially be a Mustang track,” said James. “Although we may not be the fastest car at the start, it’s a very good race car. It’s very good in traffic. You don’t have to be quite as precise in some of the other cars like the BMWs and the Porsches. They can get really fast laps, but as soon as they have a little hiccup or the tires start to go away, they can’t really use that great potential so much. We just worked on our setup. That was our strategy.”
The victory is the third straight for Nastasi and the Blackforest team, and the second in a row for James.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Nastasi said. “I drove the car hard, and I really put my head down and drove the wheels off it. We did not change tires, and the car just kept getting better and better and better. We won our first race together without changing tires. We learned fast this weekend and we figured, ‘Let’s keep the same tires on it, and see what happens.’ It worked. Thumbs up to Hoosier Tires for lasting as long as they did, and to be able to go to the front. My partner here did the rest. He did the hard part. I just saved myself.”
Phoenix International Speedway played host to the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series this weekend and Matt Kenseth was the top Fusion driver in both races for Ford.
In the third Nextel Cup race with the Car of Tomorrow, Kenseth battled a loose car, but was pleased with his team’s fifth-place finish. “We ran a lot better than I thought we’d run and we were able to get a good finish out of it. So, it was all right.”
The one-mile track in Phoenix was the longest track that the COT has raced on so far this season. “I don’t think everybody likes how they drive, but the fact is we’re all in the same boat, and we’ve all got the same opportunity to make it work, so we’ve just got to figure it out.”
The race ended with close racing by the leaders, but with good track position, Kenseth was able to pull off another top-five finish. “At the very end we were just too loose and we couldn’t go anywhere,” said Kenseth. “We didn’t have the car as good as some of those guys. On a long run we were able to run up, probably, in the top four or five times, so I was real proud of the guys for that. And they did a great job on pit road. We never had bad track position all day and that was really the key to us getting a good finish.”
During Saturday’s Busch Series race, Kenseth battled for the lead throughout the final 40 laps of the race. Kenseth fought with eventual winner, Clint Bowyer until the race ended under caution.
“We ran decent all night, probably a fourth- or fifth-place car most of the night, and we made some adjustments and made the car better, and a great battle for the win again,” said Kenseth.
“We didn’t quite have the car doing what I needed it to do. I needed to be able to run the bottom and be able to turn in the middle, and I couldn’t really do that. So, to compensate for that we kind of had the car too loose the whole time and I just had to run up top where the most grip was. And it really worked; it was just a little too long. I needed about 10 laps to have run up there and not have to run up there for 30, and it just made the front tires not work good enough after a while.”
The Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series head to Talladega next weekend and the Craftsman Truck Series returns to the track in Kansas. NHRA Funny Car drivers race in Atlanta and the Grand-Am Rolex Series heads to Virginia.