Matt Kenseth finished seventh in the Auto Club 500 in his first race with veteran crew chief Todd Parrott.

Though Kenseth's seventh-place standing in Cup points doesn't match the first-place result after winning the first two races of 2009, the 2003 series champion found reason for encouragement.

"I'm feeling great as far as the two finishes that we've had," Kenseth said. "It sounds dumb, me saying that, since we won the first two last year, but to get out of Daytona with all the troubles we had and finish eighth, and then to come here in Todd's first weekend and finish seventh is pretty good.

"We ran a little worse than some of our team-mates at times and a little better at times, and it seemed like we ran as good as most of the Fords did. I still think we've got some work to do to get all of our cars better as a group, but I thought, overall, that our team did a good job."

Parrott agreed.

"I was very, very happy," he said. "I would have liked to have gotten the car closer for Matt, but we just tweaked on it all day long. It wasn't too bad. We've got some work to do. Those guys up front, obviously, have some really fast racecars, but I think we made some huge gains from where we were over the winter, so I think we're heading in the right direction."

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