At this point last year, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry had won three times in his first season with the organization.
It’s hard to imagine that Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth enters tonight’s Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts winless. At this point last year, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry had won three times in his first season with the organization.
In 2013, he became the third different driver to win at the 1.5-mile oval in as many years, scoring his fourth of a career-high seven triumphs en-route to a runner-up spot in the championship standings.
This year, the JGR team led by crew chief Jason Ratcliff have struggled somewhat on tracks that they dominated in 2013. At Kansas Speedway, a track with similar features to Kentucky Speedway, Kenseth was only able to manage a 10th-place performance, the same result earlier in the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, another intermediate track.
Tonight, the Cambridge, Wisconsin native starts 14th for the second consecutive week, but he knows he’ll need a repeat victory to likely guarantee him a spot in the Chase.
Of course, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion may already be a step ahead of his game, if he’s set to defend his title. Despite battling a tight-race in knockout qualifying, Kenseth will start two positions better than his 16th-place starting spot last June.
Chris Knight - NASCAR Wire Service