Matt Kenseth officially launched his campaign as a championship contender tonight, resoundingly winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway while both Chase and Championship contenders fell by the wayside, struggling to survive the bullring that is known as Thunder Valley.
Kenseth held off Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne in a great battle for the win which the track had not seen in many races.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson was caught up in one of many wrecks but is not in danger of losing his overall points lead with only two races to go. That being said, the momentum is swinging a bit and Kenseth’s post-race proclamation of “we got our mojo back!” is a resounding reminder of why he was the preseason favorite.
Still, the attention was once again on the fight for the 10th position and the wild card positions. Major contenders like Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch were involved in separate incidents and are now on the outside looking in.
The race for the 10th has spread out with just two races to go, and when we look back at the season, it appears Bristol will be the defining race of the year. 11th place Brad Keselowski, 12th place Kurt Busch, and 13th place Jeff Gordon are all within 11 points of the new 10th place driver, Joey Logano.
Logano and Jeff Gordon were both big winners tonight, generally avoiding trouble and improving themselves immensely going forward with top ten finishes. Despite a poor run, Martin Truex Jr. is now the number one wild card, with Ryan Newman retaining the second wild card spot.
Before the Brickyard 400, it appeared both Ryan Newman and Joey Logano were on the outside looking in with minimal hope, but now they are both in the chase if the regular season ended today. Things will change with regards to the wild card at both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway, with unforeseeable results likely in store.
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