Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne heads to Bristol for the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Saturday.
A big goose egg sits next to Matt Kenseth’s name in the win column a year removed from a season when he posted a career-best seven wins on his way to a runner-up finish in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. That’s the bad news.
The good news: Kenseth has raced well, posting eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 23 starts this season.
The last three races at Bristol, our No. 20 team has run really well...
Barring disaster, he should qualify for the Chase. Kenseth currently ranks 13th on the Chase grid, 58 points ahead of the Chase Grid bubble. Still, at this point, only a win can lock him in. Kenseth has so many points that a victory at Bristol would catapult him to the No. 8 spot in the Chase standings, ahead of all the one-win drivers. It would also give him three bonus points for the “Challenger Round” of the Chase.
“No, because you get the most points to win,” said Kenseth, when asked whether he thinks about not taking the chance to win due to his high points total. “I don’t ever know why you wouldn’t want to win. I get asked those questions all the time and people always look at me like I’m being smart, but it’s true.”
Kenseth heads to Bristol for the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET on ABC) with the mission of capturing that elusive victory – and a repeat win in the prestigious race. He captured the checkered flag in this event last year and has won at the half-mile track two other times.
“I always look forward to going to Bristol because I think that the racing has always been pretty good there,” Kenseth said. “The last three races at Bristol, our No. 20 team has run really well even though we got wrecked out of two of those races and won the third.”
Kasey Kahne finds himself in a similar situation as Kenseth. The No. 5 Chevrolet driver notched one of his two victories at Bristol last season, but has yet to find victory lane in 2013. Unlike Kenseth, Kahne lurks outside the Chase in 17th, trailing Biffle by nine points for the final spot. He too can control his destiny by winning, guaranteeing himself a slot in the Chase, but otherwise, he would have to hope for other fringe drivers to falter.
Kahne’s victory last season is his lone triumph at Bristol, but he does claim five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at the high-banked short track.
"I’m really excited to go to Bristol,” Kahne said. “Every time we race at Bristol, I look forward to it. We’ve ran really well there for a while now.”
NASCAR Wire Service