This NASCAR season began with a win by the penultimate veteran driver Jimmie Johnson, a five-time Sprint Cup Champion, in the Daytona 500. While it didn’t immediately seem that Johnson would be the championship favorite once again, it became quite clear as he kept a steady course and found victory lane again at Martinsville.
Now, it looks to everyone’s eye that he will dominate the season and gain a sixth championship.
It is true that Johnson holds a huge lead over runner up Carl Edwards, he is not by far the set winner in this championship by any means. From the start of the year, another driver has been there at the front just as much as Johnson.
That driver is new Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth, who transferred over from Roush Fenway Racing in the offseason.
In the Daytona 500, Kenseth was dominating the race, ready to win a second year in a row. However it wasn’t meant to be, and a blown engine sent him to the garage, ending his day. Going on from that disappointing finish, he pulled a top-10 at Phoenix, then earned a win at Las Vegas.
Kenseth has run just as well this season as Johnson, and has only been hurt by circumstance or mechanical failure. At Darlington, Kenseth won after teammate Kyle Busch dominated all night, becoming the first driver this year to get three victories.
If Kenseth can keep up this pace without bad luck, he can absolutely give Jimmie Johnson a run for his money this year. However the regular season ends, the Chase will be a whole different animal to tame for these drivers.