Matt Kenseth just wanted to leave Martinsville Speedway no more than the four points he trailed Jimmie Johnson by to feel like he had a shot at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase title. Kenseth’s second-place run, coupled with a fifth-place finish for Johnson, allowed him to move into a points tie with Johnson. Both drivers have 2,294 points apiece with just three races to go — Texas (Sunday), Phoenix (Nov. 10) and Homestead (Nov. 17).
He controls his own destiny, and that is all the pilot of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota really ever wanted. It has been a dream season for him, and he has an air of confidence headed west to Fort Worth this weekend for the AAA Texas 500. It is to be run on the always-tricky track that is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) around and banked 24 degrees in the turns, and is a traditional oval design where the front straightaway juts outward slightly.
Kenseth is credited with leading the point standings by virtue of his series- leading seven wins this season compared to five victories for Johnson. Kenseth led a race-high 202 laps, but he has yet to win at Martinsville in 28 attempts.
Johnson led a total of 123 laps in an attempt to win his third consecutive Martinsville race. The five-time series champion took over the top ranking in the Chase after last weekend’s race at Talladega, holding a four-point advantage over Kenseth. Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray, who won at Talladega, completed the top-10.
Harvick remained fourth in points (-28), while Kyle Busch dropped from third to fifth (-36) following his 15th-place finish. Clint Bowyer moved up two positions to sixth (-55).