TALLADEGA, ALA. (AP) - Matt Kenseth left another restrictor plate race pondering what could have been.
After leading by far the most laps, Kenseth was overtaken on the two-lap overtime sprint Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and wound up with a disappointing eighth-place finish.
The tally: 190-plus mostly terrific laps and a frustrating finale.
“Just thinking about our day, it’s encouraging but it’s also really frustrating,” Kenseth said. “I think we’ve led the most laps four or five times and I’m fortunate and thankful that we won two races. I just feel like there’s been a few that I’ve left on the table or we’ve left on the table, for whatever reason.
“Hopefully, we can keep the performance up and I can figure out the right things to do there at the end to keep my car in the right spot and we can collect some more wins.”
He enjoyed the view from the front for 142 laps and started with the lead out of a green-white checkered but got passed by like Carl Edwards and then by race winner David Ragan, runner-up David Gilliland and others. Jimmie Johnson has second among the lap leaders with 16.
It was a familiar feeling for Kenseth. He also led a race-high 86 laps at Daytona in February before engine problems left him 37th.
Kenseth, who won the fall race at Talladega, quietly apologized to team owner Joe Gibbs outside the hauler for failing to bring home a win. He refused to blame the rain, the darkness or the 3-hour, 36-minute delay.
“It was plenty dry enough,” he said. “That was no problem. It was fairly dark. We could see what was going on. It was fairly dark, but it was safe out there.”
Kenseth isn’t sure what, if anything, he would have done differently on the restart.
“Carl just got a rocket restart there, and he cleared me down the backstretch,” he said. “He just got a huge run somehow. I was still second. I thought we still had a shot. I tried to get around Carl but he blocked, which you should. We got real wide getting up there and got pretty far to the top, and I just didn’t watch the runs from the guys way in the back.
“I saw David (Ragan) at the last minute but he was going too fast. If I pulled in front of him I was just going to get wrecked. I just had to bite the bullet and try to find the hole, which there wasn’t one. It was a disappointing end to the day but man, we had a great car.”
Kenseth also led the most laps at Richmond but finished seventh.
Kenseth thinks this year’s results show he’s still got a lot of work to do on the big speedways. He won his second Daytona 500 in 2012, and got first- and third-place finishes at the two Talladega Sprint Cup races. It’s really not that easy, though.
“Restrictor plate racing is tough,” Kenseth said. “Everybody after our great year last year says it was a strongpoint. I think it’s a weakpoint. I feel like I’m not very good at making the right spots.
“It’d be nice if we could race a little bit to the ends. I feel like our cars are good enough and our strategy. We get ourselves in really good places for longer runs but green-white checkereds, they’re just really unpredictable.”