Matt Kenseth has a chance to become the first driver in the history of the Chase for the Sprint Cup to win the first three races.
Matt Kenseth is having a career year.
With eight races left in the season, he leads the standings by 14 points over teammate Kyle Busch and already has a personal-high seven wins, including victories in the first two races of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
A victory Sunday in the AAA 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Dover International Speedway would make him the first driver in the history of the Chase format to win the first three races of NASCAR's postseason. Greg Biffle (2008) and Tony Stewart (2011) were the only drivers previously to win the first two races of the Chase.
Although it's easy to get caught up with the points standings and the championship hunt, Kenseth's currently only focused on Sunday's race at Dover.
"I know it's kind of cliché, but it really is one week at a time, especially right now," said Kenseth, who moved over to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota during the most recent offseason after piloting the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford for 13 full seasons. "If you get down toward the end and you're lucky enough to have a lead or something, maybe you start looking at that more or thinking about it more, but man, two whole months and eight weeks of racing is a lot of racing."
In 2003 -- the year prior to the Chase -- Kenseth captured his only title in NASCAR's premier series on the strength of one win and a lot of consistent top-10 finishes. Needless to say, he's attacking the battle for the title a little differently this year.
When asked whether winning a championship, if he does win the title in 2013, after winning seven or more races is vindication for only winning once during his other championship season, Kenseth responded: "If you're fortunate enough to win a championship or another championship or whatever, I don't think there's a bad way to win it."
Unlike New Hampshire, where Kenseth felt like had always struggled, the 41-year-old Wisconsin driver has done well at Dover. In 29 races at the Monster Mile, he's visited Victory Lane twice and compiled 13 top fives, 18 top 10s and one pole. During a nine-race stretch -- spring 2008 through spring 2012 -- he racked up eight top-five finishes. He's led four of the past five races and has more laps (775) at the one-mile oval than at any other track not named "Bristol."
His two victories came in June 2006 and May 2011. He's struggled in his last two visits to the track. In last September's race, Kenseth was involved in a one-car accident with 82 laps to go. He managed to finish the race, albeit a disappointing 35th. When the series returned in early June, engine issues relegated him to a 40th-place finish, although he feels they had a good car prior to their bad luck.
"Anything can happen anywhere. You can be at your best track and have whatever happen and get a bad finish," Kenseth said. "But certainly have a lot of confidence in the next three tracks coming up for sure. In the past they've been good tracks for us. I felt like we were real strong at Dover in the spring and I know I had a mechanical problem, but I thought we were pretty strong when we ran there."
Staff Report - NASCAR Wire Service