Good morning fellow NASCAR fans, it’s officially Day 25 (I’ve got the days right now!) of my 35-day preview of those cars guaranteed a spot in the first five races of 2009.
Today we look at a past champion and one of the original Roushkateers—Matt Kenseth.
Kenseth has always been known as Mr. Consistency, he quietly rides around the race track for the majority of the laps, and then all the sudden surges towards the front in the later stages and finishes top-five or so.
In fact, he’s so consistent, in 2003 he won the championship with one win (for those who don’t know, the Chase was mysteriously formed the year after he pulled away early in the championship).
However, he has displayed some displeasure with his team, and could possibly be the one on the outside after 2009, when Roush-Fenway is forced to cut a team. I don’t think he would be the one let go because of performance, but he may be the driver willing to jump ship to another team.
As we enter the 2009 season, Kenseth is coming off his worst points finish since his sophomore season, and remains one of only two drivers to make the Chase each year of its existence. (The other, of course, is Jimmie “Three-Peat” Johnson.)
So here is a look at the No. 17 team:
Today’s Spotlight: No. 17
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
Driver: Matt Kenseth
(For a look at paint schemes visit Jayski.com.)
Driver 2008 Stats: This past season had a lot of “worst-since” statistics for Kenseth. For example, he won zero races (worst since 2001), managed only eight top-fives (worst since 2004), led only 613 laps (worst since 2004) and collected only 20 top-10s (worst since 2005).
During the season he won more than $5.5 million en route to an 11th place showing (again, worst since his sophomore season of 2001).He averaged a 16th place finish in the points (worst since 2003).
News: Last November it was announced that Kenseth had re-signed with Roush-Fenway Racing. He has been with the team since 1998, and has collected 16 Cup Series wins and 24 Nationwide Series wins.
However, just because he was re-signed doesn’t mean he might not be the driver leaving after ’09 (OK, so we all know it’s probably going to be Jamie McMurray, but let’s keep it interesting).
It should be interesting among this stable to see the five drivers competing like they are in a game of musical chairs, to see who will be left without a ride in 2010. Well, at least without a ride under the “Roush-Fenway” banner.
Also during the off season, Drew Blickensderfer was named the new crew chief for the No. 17 team. Blickensderfer and Kenseth have worked together in the Nationwide Series before, and have collected three wins.
Former crew chief, Chip Bolin, will return to team engineer. Bolin served in that position during Kenseth’s championship run in ’03.
My Prediction for 2009: Kenseth is going to be in a rebound year. Finishing 11th in the points is just no what this team does. Look for the “Killer Bees” to surge back towards the front and have a top-five finish in the points.
With all the distractions at Roush-Fenway regarding who’s in and who’s out, I don’t see it affecting Kenseth at all, and he will soar to a finish in the points between second and fifth.
Will this team remain in top-35: Not much necessary here—yes!
Up Tomorrow: No. 18 Kyle Busch
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
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