By admin | September 16, 2008
By Richard Allen
The odds going into the Chase for the Championship were stacked against Matt Kenseth. Even the driver himself said he was a long shot at best.
With no wins, and thus no bonus points, Kenseth entered Sunday’s race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a hole of sorts. He was already 80 points behind Kyle Busch and 50 points behind teammate Carl Edwards.
With such a deficit, the Cambridge, Wisconsin driver could not afford even one poor finish if he was to stay in contention. Unfortunately for Kenseth, he had that bad finish right off the bat.
On a lap 229 of the 300 lap event a number of lapped cars went 3 and possibly even four wide through turns 3-4 of the flat, one mile track. Inevitably, those cars made contact and began to spin. The undeserving victim was Kenseth as his car bounced off of another and then slammed hard into the wall. Another car piled into the #17 with a driver’s side impact.
“That was a couple of hard hits there, the hardest I’ve hit in a while,” Kenseth admitted.
The hit he took on the track was a hard one. The hit he took in the standings was harder. The resulting 40th place finish left Kenseth in 12th place of the Chase standings.
Although Kyle Busch’s troubles offered an opportunity for some to get back into the thick of things, the runs by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson essentially buried Kenseth. He is now 177 points behind those co-leaders.
Although no driver wishes to be so far behind so early, this result may have been somewhat of a blessing in disguise for the Roush Fenway Racing team. Not having to worry about points, the team is now free to focus on improving the performance of their cars.
A 2008 championship is not likely for this team but perhaps they can now start working toward a 2009 title.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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