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Matt Kenseth hitting happy places in NASCAR calendar

Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup series champion, is a contender in the Chase again.

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Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup series champion, is a contender in the Chase again.

LOUDON, N.H. — Matt Kenseth has to be one of the happiest drivers in NASCAR right now.

He is seventh in Sprint Cup points, 11 ahead of Austin Dillon on the cutoff line for the next round of the Chase for the Championship.

And today Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota hits New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he has won the past two races, for the Bad Boy Off Road 300. After that he'll travel to Dover, where he won the May race, for the final event of the Chase's first round.

"It will only help us in the first round if we win at them again, but New Hampshire has been a really good track for us the last few years," Kenseth said. "Dover has been a little up and down, particularly our performances in the dominating car … but that's a track I really enjoy as well."

Kenseth, 44, has excelled at New Hampshire over his past six starts there, recording three wins and two other top-10 runs.

"We've had really good cars there since I've been at Joe Gibbs Racing," Kenseth said. "It used to be a track that I sort of dreaded … but the last three years it's been pretty good."

The 2003 Cup champion said winning a title does not simply entail going to tracks where a driver has seen success.

"There's a lot of great race teams and drivers in it and we have to figure out how to beat those guys every week," he said. "It's a tough task."

Eye on protests: Many NASCAR drivers live in or near Charlotte, N.C., so protests in the city the past few days have caught their attention.

"There's an emotional reaction," Joey Logano said Friday. "…When you see the NASCAR (headquarters) building getting vandalized and you see areas of the city that you know very well that are getting vandalized, it makes you sick to your gut. All we can do is say prayers and hope everything calms down and everybody is able to come to some kind of peace at the end of this thing"

Kenseth said: "You just hope it stops. I think we're very fortunate to live in a free country and peaceful protest and demonstrations are okay. Certainly the violence and vandalism isn't a way to prove a point or try to make things better."

Logano's Joey Logano Foundation made a $10,000 contribution Friday to the Manchester (N.H.) Police Athletic League. That, Logano said, is the best way for him to give back and make a statement.

"I don't honestly believe in a lot of other ways that other athletes are doing it right now," he said.

Sprint Cup points

After one race in the 10-race Chase for the Championship.

Driver PointsBack

Martin Truex* 2,050—

Brad Keselowski 2,049 1

Kyle Busch 2,046 4

Denny Hamlin 2,045 5

Joey Logano 2,043 7

Chase Elliott 2,039 11

Matt Kenseth 2,038 12

Jimmie Johnson 2,037 13

Carl Edwards 2,032 18

Kurt Busch 2,031 19

Jamie McMurray 2,030 20

Tony Stewart 2,028 22

Austin Dillon 2,027 23

Kevin Harvick 2,027 23

Kyle Larson 2,026 24

Chris Buescher 2,016 34

* Clinched spot in second phase

Today's race

Bad Boy Off Road 300, 2 p.m., New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon TV/radio: NBCSN; 102.5-FM

Matt Kenseth hitting happy places in NASCAR calendar 09/24/16 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:38pm]
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