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Kenseth adds to Roush Fenway’s surge with Nationwide victory

CONCORD, N.C. — Matt Kenseth never had driven the new Nationwide Series car and was in unfamiliar territory as a one-time, fill-in driver.

It didn’t matter on a hot, steamy Saturday afternoon. Not with Roush Fenway Racing dominating as it is.

As former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen struggled through a miserable day in his Nationwide debut, Kenseth passed teammate Carl Edwards with two laps to go and hung on to win the Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Edwards, who won last week’s All-Star Race at the same track, held on to finish second, and Roush Fenway’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth to move within one point of series leader Elliott Sadler.

Only Kyle Busch, who failed to match Mark Martin’s Nationwide Series record of 49 career wins, came close to Jack Roush’s team with a third-place finish.

“That was fun,” Kenseth said.

There’s been a lot of fun lately around the team. Roush Fenway drivers have won the past six Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, counting two nonpoints events, in a resurgence for the team and Ford’s NASCAR’s program.

“What a difference a year makes,” Roush said. “Last year it didn’t seem for a long time we couldn’t buy a victory.”

Kenseth was filling in for Trevor Bayne, who has been sidelined because of an inflammatory condition, in the No. 16 Ford. The Sprint Cup regular came in with 25 Nationwide wins but none since the series shifted to the new car. Kenseth said he felt comfortable after a few laps.

Raikkonen, driving in a car owned by Busch, finished four laps down in 27th amid uncertainty about his stock-car racing future.

A week after finishing 15th in his NASCAR debut in the Truck Series, Raikkonen started 22nd and soon ran into trouble. The Finland native complained early over his radio of his No. 87 Toyota being too tight. He also wasn’t wearing heat shields on his shoes and said his feet were “burning.”

He was having trouble turning his car and used colorful language to express his frustrations as he tried to keep his feet cool while repeatedly asking for larger water bottles.

Raikkonen’s next step is uncertain. Busch said Raikkonen has not paid for any future races with his team.

Kenseth, Busch and Kevin Harvick shared the lead for much of the first two-thirds of the 200-lap race. Edwards had the lead on a restart with 46 laps to go, and Harvick blew a tire shortly thereafter to fall a lap down.

■ FORMULA ONE — At Monaco, Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel secured his fifth pole of the season after posting the fastest time in a crash-marred qualifying session at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel already is threatening to run away with the championship after earning four wins in five races to build a commanding lead over Lewis Hamilton. The German can add to his advantage with his first victory in Monaco.

Vettel’s lap of 1 minute, 13.556 seconds gave Red Bull its sixth straight pole, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button and Vettel teammate Mark Webber.

Mexico’s Sergio Perez was likely to miss today’s race after sustaining a concussion and thigh injury during a violent crash near the end of qualifying. Perez was hospitalized and expected to be kept overnight.

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