Can Matt Kenseth Continue Improving by Using His JGR Teammates?

By Brian Berg Jr.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Last week it was widely expected that Matt Kenseth may give up a great many points in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup because Martinsville is one of his worst tracks. It was also widely expected that Jimmie Johnson would gain even more points on Kenseth because Martinsville is one of the tracks he simply dominates. It didn’t happen that way.

Matt Kenseth finished second, the best he has ever finished at Martinsville Speedway. Jimmie Johnson finished fifth, not the worst he has finished but matching his average finish of fifth. They are now tied in the standings for the Championship. Kenseth wins the tie breaker by race wins.

Can it get any better for us NASCAR fans? With three races to go we have two drivers tied for the championship and battling it out. Well it can get better and it will. Two of the best drivers on 1.5 mile speedways are tied. With two out of the next three races at 1.5 mile speedways their neck and neck battle is bound to continue.

Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick have also come on strong. They are 27 and 28 points behind them and ready to pounce if something should happen. Both of them are also good on 1.5 mile speedways.

What this means is it just might come down to the 1 mile Phoenix International Raceway. The driver ratings for those drivers are as follows: Johnson 116.4, Harvick 99.0, Gordon 98.8, and Kenseth 87. Looking at the driver ratings it looks like Johnson just might have the edge to win and also win the Championship.

Matt Kenseth appeared to use the strengths of his teammates at Martinsville and at some other speedways to achieve an uncharacteristic finish. Specifically he used the strength of Denny Hamlin. Denny Hamlin has a driver rating at Phoenix of 100.3 third best. Denny Hamlin also has an average finish of 9.8 second best to Johnsons 6.2.

If Matt Kenseth can improve at Phoenix like he did at Martinsville this battle will go right to the end at Homestead Miami Speedway. NASCAR fans have got it good as we might just get to see another close finish for the Sprint Cup Championship this year.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

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