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Kenseth’s poor run puts Johnson in the driver’s seat for sixth title

By admin | November 10, 2013

Crew chief Jason Ratcliff(left) and Matt Kenseth did not have many smiles on Sunday in Phoenix. 

By Richard Allen

Whatever Matt Kenseth’s worst nightmare might have been coming into Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix, it came true. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who is seeking his second NASCAR championship, experienced a miserable run that dealt a devastating blow to his chances with only one race remaining in the 2013 season.

Kenseth battled an ill handling Toyota all day as competitors often passed by him on the outside and inside as he struggled just to stay out of the way. In the end, the #20 car crossed the finish line in the 23rd position, one lap off the lead pace.

At one point, things got so bad for Kenseth that crew chief Jason Ratcliff told him to stay on track during a caution flag because “There’s nothing I can do for you in here that will help as much as clean air will”. It turned out that the driver did not gain enough track position to make a difference and his car continued to fade.

After the race, Ratcliff admitted to his team over the radio that “I did a really poor job of executing this week.”

Jimmie Johnson will be looking to add a sixth trophy to his collection.

Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson did what Jimmie Johnson seems to always do, and that is to produce a clutch performance when titles are at stake. The Hendrick Motorsports pilot steered his Chevrolet to a 3rd place finish and all but put his sixth Sprint Cup championship on ice. His lead is now 28 points over Kenseth and 34 markers ahead of Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick.

With his current lead, Johnson needs only to finish 23rd or better next week in Miami to clinch the Sprint Cup. The five time champion has a career average finish of 15th on that track. But there is at least some hope for Kenseth as Johnson has scored results of 32nd and 36th in the last two races held on the 1.5 mile speedway.



Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Kenseth’s poor run puts Johnson in the driver’s seat for sixth title”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    November 10th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    It was as if the 20 team had shot a coat of yellow paint over one of the 11 cars and give it to Matt.
    I think the real story was JJ driving his way out of trouble twice and not even flinching. That is one of the big reasons he is a champ and other top talents are not.

  2. Bill B Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 8:02 am

    NASCAR denied!!!! a close chase championship battle right to the end.

  3. Jesse Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Rich, you ran the article Friday about team orders, I really think it’s wrong for people to make personal attacks at your readers about our comments, almost bulling. Pokey’s comments about WW II and & Vietnam hit home, my father who is 93 was at Pearl Harbor and has metal in his body from the attack and my father-in-law who passed away 3 years ago, lost his leg in the war and yes I served during the Vietnam war period and will never forget. The biggest ally we have is England, Japan has put so many sanctions on us to compete it’s not fair, they put in company’s here with americian names, seems funny to me.

  4. RacingFan Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Kenseth’s only hope is to make sure he either finishes ahead of Harvick or at least rides his bumper at the finish line, in the unlikely event that Jimmy has serious problems.

  5. Jay Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    NASCAR’s not in a good place. They really didn’t need another JJ title. I personally know many fans that have stop following the sport since 2006 because they don’t like watching a rerun of the same show. I know I sound like sour grapes but I find it really difficult to believe that one driver and group of imperfect humans is this much better than the rest. Not saying they cheat all the time, but it just doesn’t seem humanly possibly to be this good when there’s so much competition. Always at the right time of year too. I’m done til JJ retires.

    Also, I’ve given up on the NW series. The 54 and 22 teams ruined it and NASCAR just sits back. Can’t remember the last NW race I watched. Glad its football season, there’s a reason why its growing and NASCAR is faltering.

  6. jerseygirl Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Happy Veteran’s Day to all of those who have served & are serving our country.

    I can’t believe the 20 team fell apart like that at Phoenix. Wow, guessing the 48 team got into their heads in a way that they weren’t able to do with Kez.

    I feel much the say way as Jay does. I just can’t work up much enthusiasm to keep following this sport. Boring races, a 10 race trophy going to the same team 6 out of 8 tries? Wow, yeah, that’s exciting! (sarcasm intended)

  7. Tony Geinzer Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Rich, for the love of Mopar, let’s bring Mopar back because I feel that the Southern California Cruelty of JJ Ganging Up on 6 Rings ain’t doing me no good! And, while we have at it, Toyota will be exposed as the Milhousian Sheep that can’t buy a championship, but, can buy Dale Jarrett under Robert Yates’ Thumb.

  8. Jeff Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Regardless of the success the 20 team has experienced this year, they will be most remembered for going down in flames at Phoenix. Barring a miracle at Homestead, it is going to be a long cold winter for the 20 team.

    Unlike some of the others commenting here, I am on the plane Wednesday headed for Key Largo and the weeks events at Homestead. I love this sport and will roll with the changes.

  9. racefangurl Says:
    November 14th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Is the championship that big on anyone’s minds or is it overshadowed by the latest Trevor Bayne story? I’ll warn the folks that haven’t seen it, if any my dad and me think it’s terrible and ain’t right.