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October 8, 2012

Saving a measure of redemption

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Matt Kenseth didn’t get left dancing without a partner at Talladega Superspeedway this time.

The Daytona 500 winner emerged from the smoke of a 25-car, last-lap pileup Sunday to win the race under caution, a high-speed measure of redemption from the last visit in the spring.

“All four plate races they put me in a position to win, and I felt like I let them down here last time on the move I made or didn’t make,” Kenseth said.

Kenseth was leading that race when he chose the outside line for a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish off a yellow flag restart. He got a big lead but created too much separation from drafting partner Greg Biffle, allowing the Brad Keselowski-Kyle Busch tandem to surge past him.

This time he made a nice early save when he spun onto the apron with a car that he said was pretty loose at times. He didn’t let this one slip away after the latest Talladega tangle.

“Matt is leading going into the final lap of every restrictor plate race we’ve had this year,” team owner Jack Roush said. “He’s won two and come up a little short on the other two.”

Kenseth gave a Talladega farewell to Roush. He’s leaving for Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end.

Kenseth said he and crew chief Jimmy Fennig gave up trying to come up with a strategy for often-unpredictable restrictor plate races. The non-strategy seems to be working.

“Honestly, we got tired of it, so I think Jimmy and I talked about it last July before Daytona,” Kenseth said. “We decided the fans pay a lot of money to watch us race. These guys pay me money to drive the race car fast. We just race hard every lap. “

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