Blogs

Points Breakdown: Kenseth and Johnson Tied In Championship Battle

Points Breakdown: Kenseth and Johnson Tied In Championship Battle

by October 27, 2013 0 comments

MARTINSVILLE, VA :: Matt Kenseth takes over the points lead due to most wins but is tied with Jimmie Johnson in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase with 2,294 points.

Heading into Sunday’s 65th annual Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered By Kroger at Martinsville Speedway, the favorite was certainly Jimmie Johnson who has eight wins at the speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has just been flat out dominant at the track, but Joe Gibbs Racing has been successful as well. However, if a Joe Gibbs Racing driver was going to perform well, surely it would be Denny Hamlin of Kyle Busch, right?

In recent years, Matt Kenseth has struggled at the “paperclip” back when he raced for Roush Fenway Racing, but it appears as if he feels right at home in a Toyota, because Kenseth already has seven wins this season in his debut with the manufacture, and he led 202 laps on Sunday and finished second.

“I felt like today was an opportunity to get our — to get a point lead back,” Matt Kenseth said. “I honestly did. We just had a great day on Friday and Saturday, and I know Jimmie is always the man here, and he’s still the man here along with Jeff and Denny for sure.”

Those two bonus points for leading the most laps could very well be a deciding factor in November when the champion is crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kenseth not only had an impressive run on Sunday, but he did exactly what he was supposed to in dominant fashion. If Kenseth is able to hang on, then Sunday’s race could be the one moment that helped win the championship for the No.20 Dollar General team.

Jimmie Johnson on the other hand, didn’t do what he needed to do on Sunday after crossing the finish line in the fifth position. He did lead 123 laps, but he let Kenseth beat him at one of his better tracks.

Johnson has five wins this season, and the Knaus-Johnson duo just seems to be unstoppable, especially when they need vital points, but this upcoming weekend at Texas Motor Speedway will be crucial. Remember in 2010, Knaus actually fired his pit crew during the Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway so that Johnson could potentially make up more championship points. They later won the championship in 2010.

Once the checkered flag flew after the long, 17 cautions, Jeff Gordon, the driver who was later added to the Chase making it a historical 13-car field captured his first win of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, 88th all-time victory and eighth at Martinsville Speedway tying teammate Jimmie Johnson for most wins among active drivers. Gordon now sits third, 27 points back from the lead.

“Let’s be honest,” Jeff Gordon said. “We’re all alive, but right now there’s two that are in it. Our job is to go to Texas and make it three. Realistically, legitimately, we’ve got to put pressure on those guys. Right now, other than this win today, they don’t really feel a lot of pressure from — they’re racing one another is the way I look at it, and those guys are capable of putting very solid finishes together for the remainder of the season.”

On a side note, the win puts Jeff Gordon into the 2014 All-Star race next May at Charlotte Motor Speedway; his provisional had expired. Chevrolet also clinched the 2013 manufacture’s championship with the win as well.

Sitting fourth in points is Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver, Kevin Harvick, who’s only 28 points back from Johnson and Kenseth. Harvick was actually my personal pick for the championship before the Chase started, but now it appears that all is not well at RCR after Harvick publicly expressed his feelings towards Richard Childress’ grandson, Ty Dillon during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, Harvick apologized during a live interview on Fox Sports 1, and only he can say if it was sincere or just promotional. But, it would be really neat if Harvick were to win in the car that he started his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in. This is Harvick’s last year at RCR, next season he’ll be at Stewart-Haas Racing.

After finishing 15th on Sunday, Kyle Busch drops two spots to fifth in the points, 36 back from the lead. Now, it’s a long shot, but if a driver is within a race worth of points (48), then nearly anything is possible, but it’s going to be tough to outrun current points leader, Matt Kenseth since they’re both out of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable.

There are only three venues left on the schedule this season, Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. In recent years, Jimmie Johnson has been successful at Texas and Phoenix, but not so much at Homestead-Miami. If Kenseth can keep Johnson in sight, then he should have the advantage when the grand finale is decided in Florida mid-November.

As for Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick, they’ll need to have three nearly perfect finishes unless something were to happen to the top-two runners. Kyle Busch I believe is in a little trouble and completely out of the picture if there’s one more poor finish. It’s certainly going to be exciting to say the least.

Photo:Chris Owens

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Comment