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NASCAR

NASCAR: Matt Kenseth Wins Quaker State 400

Matt Kenseth

Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Once again, and in typical Matt Kenseth fashion, the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing found itself in victory lane. Despite not being the dominant car and not leading the most laps, Matt Kenseth excelled on a late restart where championship-favorite Jimmie Johnson faltered.

Joe Gibbs Racing once again found itself having issues with consistency, as mechanical failure ended Denny Hamlin’s day prematurely. Before this win, things seemed to be in peril for Kenseth. He had slipped from third in the standings to fifth; having an engine failure and only one top-five finish in the last five races.

But mile-and-a-half tracks seem to be a saving grace for Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing in general. Absolutely dominant all season long, this marks the team’s fourth victory of the still young NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, with three of them coming at one-and-a-half mile tri-ovals.

It seems everything is once again going the right way for Matt Kenseth. With less than 10 races before the regular season is over, Matt Kenseth needs to find consistency if he has any hope of competing with Jimmie Johnson.

His crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, will be a large factor in the upcoming weeks. This week, he was brilliant, making the pivotal decision to go with no tires when the race was on the line. As drivers like Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne struggled staying at the front of the pack, Kenseth’s race strategy was executed to perfection.

Kenseth’s pit crew was spectacular, averaging the fourth best time on pit road. Kenseth himself ran an incredible race staying in the top-15 99.3% of laps. His driver rating was a 131.6 according to racing-reference, second only to Jimmie Johnson.

Going forward, this puts extra pressure on Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing for future races like next week’s at Daytona International Speedway, where strategy, mechanical integrity and good fortune lead to victory. Between now and the first race of the chase at Chicagoland Speedway, there are no more mile and a half tracks.

This is the home stretch for an incredibly impressive first season for Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing. But in order to contend, Matt Kenseth still needs to find more consistency. Thanks to this impressive win at Kentucky Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth is on the fast track to success.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486