How do you win four races in a season? You Matt’er down of course, which is exactly what Mr. Kenseth did at Kentucky on Sunday. He might not have had the best car on the day, but he did when it counted as he claimed his 28th career victory. The victory moves him to fifth in the standings and, even more important, three bonus points up on Jimmie Johnson in re-calibrated Chase points.
Johnson, he of so many wins he can just give them away. He beat the late re-start at Dover, and wound up 17th. He spun out late at Kentucky, and came home ninth. He will be at 65 soon enough, so why rush? 182 laps leading and then just giving it away.
Dale Earnhardt Jr would not do that. Maybe early in his career, he might have, when he claimed 16 wins in his first 201 races. However, not since then. Not since the past 285 events have produced just three victories, the last one more than a year ago. Junior started from the pole, he was leading the race, but when the carcass of Denny Hamlin’s tire slapped him up side the splitter he was just glad to hang on to 12th.
Hamlin will not make the Chase. After his hurts, he keeps getting hurt points-wise and physically. He eventually crashed out, got his bell rung a little, and finished 35th. Hamlin has nine races to make up 44 points (to make the Top 20) and win a couple. It is not going to happen.
Brad Keselowski will not make the Chase. The defending champ with the big Twitter may be only 14 points out, but he has been deplorable over the past ten. He might have a couple of Top Tens, but he also finished 33rd at Richmond, 32nd at Darlington, 36th at Charlotte, and 33rd on Sunday. His next nine will have to be as awesome as the recent past has been awful.
For the first time in 35-years, since 1978, a Labonte failed to start a Cup race. With Bobby sat down in favor of A.J. Allmendinger, his streak of 704 consecutive starts came to a close. Allmendinger finished 22nd. I hope the feedback was worth it.
Rating Kentucky – 8/10 – It was a day late, but you hate to fly through the race as you might miss something the TNT crew brings up. I wish I had missed Carl Edwards’ guest selection from Saturday. Thanks to fellow writer Kelly Crandall, I did not, sharing the joy that is Turtleman. To be fair, she did indicate that it was a train wreck, but I still might have to remove Kelly as a Facebook friend. So, who will be on next week, Honey Boo Boo?
This Saturday night is the Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Johnson won there last spring, Tony Stewart a year ago, and Kenseth in the 2012 season opener. Jamie McMurray was second in Kentucky, and has won twice on the track at Daytona. Back in the Top 20, he sure could use a third about now. Enjoy the week!