Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Matt Kenseth optimistic for Dover Sprint Cup race

Matt Kenseth has 19 top-10 Sprint Cup finishes at Dover, site of today’s race; that’s his most at any track.

Getty Images

Matt Kenseth has 19 top-10 Sprint Cup finishes at Dover, site of today’s race; that’s his most at any track.

It took a stop at a track at which Jimmie Johnson has enjoyed a great deal of success in his career to earn his first victory of the 2014 season.

Is Matt Kenseth up next?

Johnson's victory last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway gave him a record seven victories at the track.

Kenseth, who led the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with seven wins last season, is winless this season. But today he too can end a drought at a track where he has found much success, Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

"It is one of those tracks that is not only challenging to race other cars and figure out how to pass them, but it always challenges you every single lap, even when you are by yourself," Kenseth said.

"It is one of those tracks you can't let your guard down."

Dover was the site of Kenseth's first Cup start in 1998 when he finished sixth as a last-minute substitute driver for Bill Elliott, whose father, George, died that week.

In fact, Kenseth was so last-minute he had no fire suit matching Elliott's McDonald's-sponsored car.

Kenseth borrowed a suit from one of Elliott's crewmen, and his finish was the best for a driver in his debut in NASCAR's top series since 1980, when Rusty Wallace finished second in his first race at Atlanta.

And Dover has been kind to Kenseth ever since.

He has two victories at the track and 19 top-10 finishes in 30 starts, more than any other track. In his previous 12 races at the 1-mile concrete oval, Kenseth has finished seventh or better nine times.

Kenseth was in the running to win the 600 but ended up finishing a season-best third.

"I feel like we're gaining on it," he said. "I thought all things being equal and nobody having trouble (at Charlotte) that we had at least a fifth-place car — so we're gaining on it.

"Typically, (Charlotte) has been one of our best places, and I was hoping we were going to be able to sneak up on a win there. We are just a little bit off and just need to get it a little better somehow."

Perhaps the next step for Kenseth's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team will come in today's FedEx 400.

"I know that Dover is a track that Matt is quite fond of, and it's one of my most favorite tracks on the circuit other than Darlington," said Kenseth's crew chief, Jason Ratcliff. "I just like Dover because it's unique and it reminds me of a Bristol on steroids. Things that apply at the 11/2-mile tracks kind of apply at Dover, but then you also have to throw some short-track characteristics into your car as well. It's fast, it's fun and it's different."

. fast facts

Sprint Cup points

After 12 of 26 races. Sixteen drivers will make the season-ending Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Jeff Gordon* 432—

Matt Kenseth 421 11

Kyle Busch* 408 24

Carl Edwards* 408 24

D. Earnhardt Jr.* 394 38

J. Johnson* 388 44

Joey Logano** 378 54

Brian Vickers 365 67

Brad Keselowski* 361 71

Ryan Newman 361 71

Greg Biffle 351 81

Kevin Harvick** 345 87

* Has a win.

** Has two wins.

Today's race

FedEx 400, 1 p.m., Dover (Del.) International Speedway TV/radio: Ch. 13, 102.5-FM

Matt Kenseth optimistic for Dover Sprint Cup race 05/31/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 31, 2014 9:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New Bucs player murals go up at Raymond James Stadium


    Each summer, it's a sign that training camp is soon to arrive at One Buc Place: the changing of the huge player murals on each corner of Raymond James Stadium.

    Bucsquarterback Jameis Winston is back for a second year in a row with a corner mural at Raymond James Stadium.
  2. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Jordan Spieth, right, comes from one back of Matt Kuchar, left, after 13, going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-par to win by 3.
  3. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  4. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  5. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)