Slow Starts Can Be Overcome During Chase
Sunday’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway didn’t provide a spectacular Chase for the Sprint Cup kickoff for Matt Kenseth.
Although he had a competitive car through the first half of the race, Kenseth’s day ultimately was spoiled when his car lost a shock absorber, forcing him to the pits for major repairs and bumping him from the upfront pack. He finished 18th, a lap down.
But one race does not the Chase make, and it’s instructive to take a look at last season’s playoffs and how they evolved.
Kenseth also had a less-than-exciting day in last year’s Chase opener at Chicagoland, as he finished 21st, ninth among the Chase group.
But the next four weeks were stellar for the 17 team. Kenseth strung together finishes of sixth, fifth and fourth before winning the fifth race of the Chase at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That victory put Kenseth in third in the points chase.
Typically, each season every Chaser has at least one sour race. Tony Stewart, last year’s champion, finished 25th in the Chase race at Dover. Kevin Harvick had a 32nd at Talladega. Jimmie Johnson had finishes of 34th and 32nd. Denny Hamlin opened last year’s Chase with a 31st at Chicagoland.
“I don’t think today (Sunday’s result) has anything to do with next week and going on, but we have to do a better job,” Kenseth said.
He and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle will look for improvement this weekend as the Chase heads east to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for round two.
Biffle finished 13th at Chicagoland and is eighth in points entering New Hampshire. Kenseth is 11th.
NHMS is a virtually flat, 1.058-mile track that demands strong brakes and the intelligent use of them and cars that will stick in the corners.
Biffle has won once at the track, and that victory -- in the fall of 2008 -- was Ford’s last win at Loudon. Both Biffle and Kenseth have five top-five runs at NHMS.
In the spring race this season at Loudon, Biffle was ninth and Kenseth finished 13th
Source: Ford Racing