Roughly two months into the season, Mark Martin was having a conversation with Matt Kenseth about the fast start to Kenseth’s year. Kenseth had grabbed two wins in his first eight races with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Martin believed his former teammate could have legitimately won all eight of the events.
“I expected him to win races and be awesome and be Matt Kenseth, but the start he had, he could have won them all. Bar none. That was staggering,” Martin recalled.
It truly is a dream year for Kenseth, who has won a career-best seven races after jumping to JGR after 16 years driving for Jack Roush.
Now, 10 years after winning the only Cup championship of his career, Kenseth is in the thick of another title race. He goes into the penultimate race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship today at Phoenix International Raceway trailing Jimmie Johnson by seven points in the standings.
Johnson may very well win a sixth championship and Kenseth could end up falling short in this title race to a driver who will go down as one of the best in NASCAR history. But regardless of how it shakes out at Phoenix, or after next week’s season finale at Homestead, Kenseth can only look back at 2013 and marvel at what he accomplished.
Kenseth’s previous best was five wins in 2002.
With 31 victories, he’s 22nd on the career wins list – fifth among active drivers – and 15 Hall of Famers rank ahead of him.
Kyle Busch raced to his 12th NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the year and Austin Dillon maintained his hold on the championship lead with a third-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
Dillon takes an eight-point lead over Sam Hornish Jr. into next week’s season finale at Miami’s Homestead.
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