By admin | July 6, 2009
By Richard Allen
Leaving the Daytona International Speedway in February, Matt Kenseth had to be feeling a sense of jubilation and accomplishment. After all, he had just won NASCARâ€™s biggest prize, the Daytona 500.
Leaving the Daytona International Speedway in July, Kenseth had to be feeling a sense of relief. He finished 8th in the Coke Zero 400, but more importantly, he provided himself a cushion within the Chase for the Championship standings.
Kenseth not only won the season opening race in Daytona but he went on to score a victory the next week in California. However, in the next race in Las Vegas he suffered engine troubles right from the outset of the race and finished dead last. Those type of ups and downs have marked the rest of the #17 teamâ€™s season.
Prior to the Coke Zero 400, Kenseth had slipped to 10th in the overall standings and held only a six point margin over 13th place. He was that close to falling out of championship contention.
Now, after an 8th place result in Daytona he remains in the 10th position overall, but he has a cushion of 100 points over 13th place.
If Kenseth can qualify for the Chase for the Championship he will have at least 20 bonus points in the bank as a result of his two victories. But, he has to get into the Chase first. At times this season, that has looked iffy at best for the 2003 champion.
Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are the only two drivers to have qualified for the Chase every year since its inception in 2004.
Matt Kenseth must have felt great leaving Daytona in February. This time, he must have felt comfortable as he drove through the tunnel leaving the track. And comfortable is not all bad.
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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