Playoffs or no playoffs, Matt Kenseth feels good about his chances to win races before the end of the 2017 season.
Winning sooner rather than later – in the next two races in particular – would, of course, pay bigger dividends.
“Honestly, whether we make (the playoffs) or not, I’m looking forward to the next 12 races, Well, 11, I’m really not looking forward to Talladega, let’s be honest,” Kenseth said Saturday night following his fourth-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
“I’m looking forward to the rest because I feel when we’re at our best, we can run well at all those places. Even Martinsville has been really good for us as far as performance lately; Loudon has been good; Darlington is usually pretty decent and Richmond has always been good.
“All of our cars at (Joe Gibbs Racing) are running really well right now so it’s fun to be part of that.”
Kenseth led 11 laps Saturday night and found himself in the mix for the win late in the race, which is something his No. 20 Toyota team has not been able to capitalize on a lot this season.
“It was best day we’ve had (this season) on pit road,” Kenseth said. “The over-the-wall guys were at their best today. They’ve been getting better and better every week.
“They put a whole race together today, which was really nice. I needed that. They bailed me out of some of trouble I got us in. It was a solid night. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the car right; we couldn’t really adjust it.”
Kenseth is currently eighth in the series standings. With 13 race winners qualified for the playoffs, that leaves three spots for drivers to get in by points. Chase Elliott, Kenseth and Jamie McMurray hold those positions with races at Darlington, S.C., and Richmond, Va., remaining in the regular season.
“I guess there’s only two races left, so somebody is going to make it by points. I don’t know where we are. I don't even look at it, to be honest with you,” Kenseth said. “If you don't get a win in the next two weeks, hopefully we get in.
“If we do get in, we’re running a lot better as of late. We’ve had some solid finishes. Last week wasn’t. But we’ve definitely been closer to being in contention for wins. I do feel like we have a little bit of momentum at the right time.
“We need more, but I feel like we have some at the right time if we can get in.”