Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished the second race of the chase, the same as the first race of the chase…1-2. Joe Gibbs Racing now has the top two drivers in the standings and have won five of the last seven races, including the win at Louden New Hampshire last weekend.
While NASCAR has been trying to deal with scandal and controversy off the track, on the track Joe Gibbs Racing is becoming the new powerhouse.
This was Kenseth’s 500 start and first win ever at Louden. Kenseth joins Biffle (2008) and Tony Stewart (2011) as the only drivers to win the first two Chase races. Stewart went on to win the title. Kenseth will try to become the first driver to win the first three races of the Chase at Dover this weekend.
Chase drivers filled six of the top 10 spots. Greg Biffle was third and Jimmie Johnson fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth and Carl Edwards was ninth. Jaime McMurray was the highest non-Chase finisher in fifth place.
The Chase is starting to become a three person race between Busch, Kenseth, and Johnson. The rest of the field needs these drivers to slip to catch up. Kenseth’s lead over Busch is 14 points and 18 over Johnson.
*** NAPA on the Move ***
Long time sponsor of Michael Waltrip and Michael Waltrip racing, NAPA auto parts has decided to cut ties with the organization in the midst of the Chase Scandal. This leaves Martin Truex Jr.’s future in limbo, without funds for next season. The most recent rumor, has Truex leaving MWR to join Gibbs and possibly bringing the NAPA sponsor with him.
*** Other News and Notes ***
Kurt Busch will drive the #41 car for Stewart-Haas Racing next year. The number has finally been confirmed.
Quicken Loans will head over to Richard Childress Racing as a sponsor following Ryan Newman, while Jimmy Johns will leave RCR to move over to Stewart-Haas and continue to be on Kevin Harvick’s car.
*** Dover Preview ***
This is where Jimmie Johnson will step up and prove he has a chance to win another championship. The rest of the field is hoping the top three have issues. If you are not one of those drivers and have issues, your title dreams may be over after this, the third race of the chase. I also like Kyle Busch to run well, and believe eventually Brad Keselowski will find victory lane before seasons end to build some momentum for next year.