Kenseth came into the night leading the points by just three over Jimmie Johnson. He started 20th and was able to make his way to 10th by lap 84, but a slow pit stop put him back in the field.
“It was a little bit of a struggle this weekend more than we anticipated,” Kenseth said. “I didn't get a good lap qualifying, and that was really the start of us being behind tonight.”
He fell further behind prior to the mid point of the 500 mile race as his crew, led by crew chief Jason Ratcliff worked on finding lost speed.
“There was a couple stops that were a little slow and we lost a couple spots,” Kenseth said. “But I know we were pulling spring rubbers on at least two of those stops, and that's always going to slow it down.”
It was after the midway point though that the changes made on pit stops started to help.
“They nailed it there at the end,” Kenseth said. “I was the second car out on four tires, but the first car out on four tires was three spots ahead of me coming down pit road, and they beat the 18 (Kyle Busch) off pit road that last stop and got me in a position to have a shot at it.”
On a final restart with 27 laps to go, Kenseth found himself in the top five. When the checkered flag fell, he had rallied to a third place finish.
“The way the night went, it was crazy,” he said. “We fired off that last restart and the two cars in front of me had two tires, and I couldn't believe that they figured out how to give me a chance to win again, and I am kind of disappointed that I didn't figure out how to win it with the position he put me in and the good restart I had coming out of Turn 2 in second. I thought for sure I'd have a shot to go around Kasey, and just couldn't get it done.”
The most important thing for Kenseth was that he finished ahead of Johnson. Johnson led the second most laps on the night, 130, but in the end finished fourth, one spot behind. That allowed Kenseth to actually gain one point; he leaves Charlotte with a four point lead over Johnson.
“I felt like tonight the 48 (Johnson) probably had us beat,” Kenseth said. “I'm not sure about the 5 (Kahne) overall because I didn't race with him that much and hear lap times and we were coming from the back. But I felt like we had in between a 2nd and a 4th or 5th place car at worst.”
“We finished there or a little better so I'd call that a successful night,” he added.” (The crew) put me in a chance to win there at the end and being greedy of course you want to win and you go out and do everything you can do and I couldn't get it done but yet for where we started and how we were the first two runs of the race, I thought my whole team did an incredible job. I was happy where we ran, happy where we finished.