NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth may only have finished ninth in Sunday's MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway, but his series-leading 22nd top-ten effort was enough to strengthen his bid for a first senior title.

Kenseth remained in the number one spot for the 25th consecutive race week, dating back to Atlanta in March, and now holds a 436-point advantage over new number two, Kevin Harvick, with eight races remaining on the schedule, beginning at Talladega this weekend. He has now completed all but two laps of competition in 2003, making consistency his greatest weapon and, If Matt wins this weekend, his Winston-leader bonus payout would total a record $290,000.

Kenseth finished ninth at Talladega in the spring, taking his third top ten result in seven career starts - including a best of fourth in the 2001 EA Sports 500 - at the notorious circuit, and has led at Talladega in each of those seven starts.

"Our approach this weekend won't be any different than any other week just because this is a restrictor plate track," he said, "You never want to get caught up in someone else's mess, but hanging back and trying to be too careful doesn't work either.

"We've had some good runs this year on the 'plate tracks, save for the Daytona 500, but that was my call to pit before it rained. The other two races were both top-10s and that's what we'll be looking for this time around."

The #17 DEWALT Tools Ford team will be taking chassis #17 to Talladega, after Kenseth ran well with it at each of the three preceding restrictor plate races this year.

"We're bringing chassis #17, which we've used in every 'plate race this year," confirmed crew chief Robbie Reiser, "It's a good car for us, even though it's not a good qualifier. It qualifies terrible, but it can sure race in the draft well."



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