The summer stretch of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season continued this weekend in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. It is often in this summer stretch where the most effective championship contenders rise (most notably Tony Stewart, who seems to always heat up in the summer time).
While some contenders emerge this way onto the grand stage that is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, there are others who fade out.
Since the summer has begun, Matt Kenseth’s prodigal ascendancy was temporarily halted as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had a few tough weeks on the race track. At Charlotte, he only mustered a 15th place finish; then at Dover, he suffered a Toyota engine failure that ruined a good-looking run for him.
This week Kenseth was able to garner a solid finish of sixth and picked a spot back up in the points to place him at fifth in the points standings, comfortably in the top-10 at the moment. To be a contender for the championship, he will have to keep notching these solid finishes even when his car isn’t the rocket it seemed to be every week for a lot of the early season.
Of course, there is no saying that Kenseth can’t heat back up at the most important time of the year, the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If he can grab multiple wins in the final 10 playoffs races of the NASCAR season, then he can absolutely steal the title away from dominant favorite Jimmie Johnson, especially if luck turns against him as it did in the Chase last year against Brad Keselowski.
Don’t forget about Kenseth just because he hasn’t been taking this No. 20 car into victory lane every other week.