Bonus Points Keep Kenseth Atop Championship Standings
Call them the elite among the elite.
Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, continue to head the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. Kenseth’s lead is a miniscule three points heading for the mid-point of the post season although the two have some breathing room – 25 and 22 points, respectively, on their closest pursuer.
It’s far too soon to predict how this year’s Chase will play out. History, however, is in Kenseth’s corner. The leader after four races has gone on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in six of nine Chase era seasons including last year.
Last weekend’s race in Kansas, however, saw Kenseth and Johnson lose some steam. It marked the first 2013 Chase race in which neither competitor finished among the top five and one – Kenseth – failed to reach the top 10 (11th).
Johnson, interestingly, has the better average finish over the initial four Chase races – 4.0 to the leader’s 5.0. Kenseth’s two victories added 10 bonus points to his total versus Johnson’s single win worth five markers. That suggests winning ultimately could trump consistency.
Johnson holds the edge at Charlotte Motor Speedway, both overall and in the Bank of America 500. The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup titleholder has won six times at CMS, a record he shares with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.
Three of those victories came in the fall race – back to back in 2004-05 and in his 2009 championship campaign. He finished third in last year’s fall race; 22nd in May’s Coca-Cola 600. Johnson’s Charlotte Driver Rating of 110.0 leads all competitors.
Kenseth is a two-time Charlotte winner. His Bank of America victory came in 2011. He finished 14th in last fall’s installment and 15th in May. Kenseth’s first trip to Charlotte in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was a mixed bag as he led three times for 112 laps but fell out of contention when a caution flag followed a green flag pit stop.
Kenseth’s Charlotte Driver Rating of 95.3 is fourth best behind Johnson, JGR teammate Kyle Busch and four-time track winner Kasey Kahne.