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Kenseth doubles up with Fontana win.

After a frustrating 2008 Sprint Cup campaign, Matt Kenseth is certainly making up for lost time, but owes a lot to the help he is getting from his friends on pit-road.

Winless last season, Kenseth backed up his victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 by holding off Jeff Gordon in Sunday's Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup race, but received a major boost from his Roush Fenway Racing crew as the battle intensified in the closing stages.

With a lightning-fast pit-stop, Kenseth's crew made sure the #17 Carhartt Ford was first away for a lap 216 restart, brought about when Daytona runner-up Kevin Harvick slammed the turn one wall to cause the fifth and final caution of the 250-lap race.

Kenseth, who won for the 18th time in the Cup series, stayed in front the rest of the way to the flag and beat Gordon by just 1.463secs to become the fifth driver in Cup history to win the first two races of a season. The last to do so was Gordon, in 1997, when the year started at Daytona and Rockingham.

Kenseth, however, revealed that he had not been confident of holding the four-time champion at bay because Gordon had caught and passed him on the previous green flag run.

“I thought he was going to pass us,” the Ford man admitted, “Some people call me a pessimist — I think I'm more of a realist — but, when we took off the run before, we got the lead and ran some real fast laps and we left Jeff 15 or 20 car lengths [behind].

“In the middle of that run, he ran me right down, drove by me and took off. Greg [Biffle] drove by me, took off. I don't even know what [the pit crew] adjusted, but they got us in front again, which is obviously a big key to it. We took off and, right away, I could feel that it was better - but I didn't think it was that much better. As many laps as were left, I honestly thought we were going to be too loose at the end, and he was going to catch us.”

Gordon was ambivalent about the result, which showed a marked improvement over last year, but continued to leave him winless in Sprint Cup competition since October 2007.

“I think we're head and shoulders above where we were,” he confirmed, “I know we're just a couple races in, and this is one race, but I just loved the way the car was driving. To be able to battle and go to the front like that and have solid pit-stops, I'm just really excited — and also really bummed out we didn't win the race tonight.



Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth celebrates with Jack Roush after winning at Auto Club Speedway   [pic credit: Getty/NASCAR]
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Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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