Originally created 03/15/04

Kenseth turns in worst finish of year

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Matt Kenseth finished sixth Sunday at the Golden Corral 500. While it was a solid top-10 finish, it was his worst finish in four races this year.

"I'm happy with the overall result considering everything that went wrong," Kenseth said. "At the beginning of the race we had a lot better car than that, and I messed it up. I made a dumb mistake getting on pit road and we didn't have a lot of cautions to come back from it ."

As the teams made their second pit stop under green, Kenseth's Ford spun coming onto pit road. He spun the rear tires to get it pointed in the right direction, then he continued with his stop. NASCAR demanded a second stop-and-go penalty and that put him one lap down.

Regardless, he built his lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series standings to 82 points over Tony Stewart. Race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. improved four positions to third, 90 points behind.

FILLING THE FIELD: When grand marshal Arnold Palmer gave the command to start the engines , there weren't any crewmen in Joe Ruttman's pit stall.

A couple crewmen appeared, however, after a NASCAR official went to the pit stall during the warm-up laps, and that allowed Ruttman to start the race.

Ruttman created a stir three weeks ago at Rockingham, N.C., when he started the race without a crew. He was black-flagged during the warm-up laps once NASCAR realized he intended to merely start the race and quickly exit with last-place money of more than $54,000. With a "crew" in place, Ruttman started Sunday's race. He then drove six laps and pulled off the track. His team had their car and equipment loaded so quickly, they were on the highway home by the 100th lap. Ruttman earned $54,701.

PIT STOPS: Decals on Derrike Cope's car for redneckjunk.com were ordered off the car by NASCAR. The sanctioning body said the Web site that's sells junk portrayed an "image" NASCAR didn't like, according to a NASCAR spokesman ... The sponsorship of another Web site, YokeTV.com, was removed from Kevin Lepage's car after there were problems - presumably a lack of payment - between the company and the race team.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net.


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