Las Vegas: Matt Kenseth - NASCAR spotlight

Matt Kenseth not comfortable being out of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 8, 2005) -- Matt Kenseth, by no means off the radar, is nonetheless off the stats page this week, as far as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10...

Matt Kenseth not comfortable being out of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 8, 2005) -- Matt Kenseth, by no means off the radar, is nonetheless off the stats page this week, as far as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 is concerned.

It's a small story, at first glance, considering that the season is only two weeks old. A larger look, however, reveals the true significance of the top-10 absence by the series' 2003 champion.

Kenseth (No. 17 USG Sheetrock/DEWALT Ford), has come to personify consistency. He's seemingly always in the hunt and sometimes, in the front -- at the finish.

Steadiness steered him to the championship two years ago.

It also earned him top-10 status for 71 consecutive weeks coming into this season.

Two weeks into 2005, that remarkable run has been replaced by a troubling turn of events. Kenseth is 36th in the series points after finishing next-to-last (42nd) in the Daytona 500 and 26th in Week 2, at California Speedway.

Fittingly, this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the rugged terrain of the Sunrise Mountains as a backstretch backdrop, Kenseth has an imposing hill to climb. He needs his trademark consistency -- and more, much like last year when he won this event in dominating fashion.

As they might say in Las Vegas, don't bet against him.

Kenseth also won at Las Vegas in 2003, his only victory during his championship season. A Kenseth three-peat would be one way -- and obviously the quickest way -- for the former titlist to make up ground in the standings.

"When you have success at a track you always look forward to going back," Kenseth said earlier this week from Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he was testing in preparation for next week's event.

"We've got great cars and great equipment; we just have to get some momentum going ... like anything it goes in cycles. We've had two bad weeks and right now we're way behind."

Kenseth is out to reverse the current cycle and return to his normal stature:

That of a championship contender.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth