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Matt Kenseth is a driver who has built a solid career from his ability to stay consistently fast and avoid trouble at most tracks.
In 2003, Kenseth took home the championship while managing only one victory.
Last season, wins weren’t a problem for the Cambridge, Wis. native. He won three races (his highest total since 2006) while collecting 12 top-5s and 20 top-10s.
On paper Kenseth’s 4th place finish in points doesn’t look bad. But, it’s a wonder that he was able to finish that high after adding in several misfortunes that the driver encountered during the Chase.
At Chicago (Sept. 19), he ran out of fuel on the final lap before coasting to a 21st place finish. During the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, Kenseth had run-ins with Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers, eventually finishing 31st.
Later at Phoenix (Nov. 13), he suffered a DNF after another incident with Vickers. Outside of this series of mishaps, his playoff run looks similar to that of teammate Carl Edwards.
The 14-year veteran will have a new look for 2012 after Crown Royal parted ways with the team. The No. 17 Ford Fusion will be sponsored by a variety of companies including: Best Buy, Valvoline, Zest and Ford EcoBoost.
Qualifying has never been Kenseth’s strength, but in 2011 the tides began to turn as he posted a 14.2 average starting mark, which is the best of his career. He has always been a driver who can gain and maintain position after the green flag drops, but if his qualifying speeds continue to trend upwards, the driver’s job will be much easier.
Crew chief Jimmy Fennig could be a major reason behind his driver’s recent upsurge. After taking over for Todd Parrott halfway through the 2010 season, Kenseth has once again been amongst the series best drivers on a constant basis.
If this driver-crew chief duo picks up where they left off in 2011, Kenseth will be a major contender for the Sprint Cup.