But make no mistake, a win would be nice.
Matt Kenseth is close to clinching a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup—even if he doesn’t win one of the next two races.
Joey Logano’s victory on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway—keeping the number of different winners at 12 through 24 races -- guaranteed Chase berths for the top two drivers in the standings without victories after 26 events.
Kenseth, fifth in points, is far ahead of the next three winless drivers in the standings. He’s 41 points ahead of Ryan Newman in ninth, 52 points up on Clint Bowyer in 10th and 57 points clear of Greg Biffle in 11th.
Accordingly, there’s a high likelihood Kenseth will clinch a Chase spot on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, even if he doesn’t win the Oral-B USA 500.
He doesn't need a win... maybe
So, on the one hand, Kenseth doesn’t need a win. On the other hand, he does—desperately.
With race victories the key to advancement through the elimination rounds in the Chase, particularly as the playoff gets closer to the four-driver shootout at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kenseth needs a win in the next two races, simply to reassure himself that he can get to Victory Lane.
Kenseth led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with seven victories last year in his debut season with Joe Gibbs Racing. This year -- nada.
So don’t be surprised if the laid-back Wisconsinite approaches the last two regular-season races at Atlanta and Richmond with an uncharacteristic sense of urgency, despite his comfortable position in the standings.
NASCAR, Reid Spencer