NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Matt Kenseth’s Struggles

Man, do I love Martinsville! It doesn’t get much better than good old fashioned short track racing!

I was a surprised to see Kyle Busch win just because his track record on flat tracks was sub-par. However, I believe running the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday helped Busch in the Cup race on Sunday. There is no other racetrack that can prepare you for Martinsville. There is no place like it. The truck race featured the same tire combination they ran on Sunday, which really helped the driver of the No. 18 understand what the tire would do over a long run and helped get extra laps under his belt at Martinsville.

The same can be said for Kyle Larson, who has struggled previously at Martinsville. However, running the truck race in a fourth truck for GMS Racing really seemed to help Larson, who finished third on Sunday.

The highest finishing rookie in the field was Ryan Blaney, who finished 19th. The rookies struggled all day long at Martinsville and you have to wonder if in the future some of these Cup owners will put their drivers in the truck race to get them extra seat time at the track. It paid off for both Busch and Larson and you have to wonder if it’ll pay off for someone else down the line.

Q: With Kyle Busch winning at Martinsville and Joe Gibbs Racing having been strong every where, are they a dynasty? – Mike L. Riverhead, New York

A: When I think of the word dynasty, multiple championships automatically come to mind. The New England Patriots of recent times, the New York Yankees of the late 1990s and even Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team all won multiple championships in a short time period. I think it’s a little soon to call Busch and Joe Gibbs a dynasty just yet but they certainly have the potential to be.

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)
Should Jimmie Johnson’s success with his No. 48 team be considered a dynasty? (Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)

In this sport, we’ve only seen a dynasty a handful of times. The aforementioned Johnson, Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team of the 1990s, Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough in Junior Johnson’s No. 11 team and Richard Petty’s No. 43 team. There have been several drivers to win a ton of races but not championships and/or Daytona 500s. Those handfuls of teams have been cemented in people’s minds as great ones and will be forever. While Busch’s track record has been impressive – 31 wins in 10 years with JGR is nothing to be upset about – he’s missing the elusive Daytona 500 victories and multiple championships.

In the end, I think they are the team with the most potential to eventually become a dynasty but they are not there yet. That doesn’t mean that Busch and company aren’t a great team, though, because they really are.

Q: As the season continues, Matt Kenseth has been having more bad luck. What is going on? Should we be concerned for that team? – Danielle R. St. Louis, Missouri

A: Matt Kenseth is one of the sport’s most respected drivers as far as talent is concerned. He and crew chief Jason Ratcliff have won a ton of races together, but it is interesting to see someone with so much potential struggling to make headway early in the year. Kenseth has been in favor of the new lower downforce package, and JGR has run so well in this package that it’s alarming to see Kenseth 14th in the point standings.

However, there is nothing to worry about if you’re a Kenseth fan. I don’t believe this bad luck will continue, and he is still in a point position that will make the Chase. The No. 20 team is very capable of winning at any type of racetrack. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kenseth pull into Victory Lane at Texas this weekend, and that would lock him into the Chase.

With that said, the No. 20 team needs to have a sit-down meeting though. I believe the 2015 season is still lingering in the back of their minds, a season which they had a championship virtually taken away from them by Joey Logano. There’s likely still some residual anger about it, and instead of focusing on the championship again in 2016, they’re still upset about 2015. The team needs to refocus and re-establish their eye on the ball.

The team has the people, equipment and intelligence to run for a championship. That will never change as long as they stay together. However, a team meeting to forget about 2015 might be the next step toward that.

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Bill B

I am guessing that dynasties are going to be harder to come by with the new elimination chase format. The importance of luck has been ratcheted up to the point where the driver with best performance or most wins (based on excellence from Feb to Nov) isn’t likely to win the championship. Too many factors can keep the best team out of the final race at Homestead and dynasties depend on the best making it to the end.

Mike

Kenseth… It’s called KARMA. for being the jerk he’s been his entire racing career, don’t just ask Joey Logano ask Jeff Gordon, or Carl Edwards or others. He’s not the saint he wants you to believe he is. He’s most famous for when I wrecked somebody it was on accident but when I get wrecked its on purpose. look back at his career and see how many times he’s said then when we all know its always been the exact opposite

kb

Yes, his “awe shucks” demeanor or “I didn’t know what happened” has always served him well. The media eats it up. His bs has gone under the radar his whole career. But a perceived injustice due to his racing…well look out the old midget is out for revenge! I have heard several stories, and that says something considering how the “insiders of Nascar” keep their paychecks protected. One day I would love for someone to write a true book about the personalities. Not this spoon fed phony garbage that comes from Castle Daytona, race teams and sponsors. MOST fans are not as stupid as they believe.

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