NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Preview: Matt Kenseth

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst ISeptember 12, 2012

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, looks on from in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Every day here at Bleacher Report, we'll be counting down the 12 drivers in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup by posting two driver previews, breaking down how they got in and what they're going to do with their berth. Today we'll look at two one-win drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh) and Matt Kenseth (eighth).

MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Best Buy/Zest/Ford EcoBoost Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

CHASE POSITION: 8th, 2003 points (1 win)

MAKING THE CHASE: Kenseth clinched a wild-card spot at Bristol despite only coming home 25th, but ensured a top 10 spot at Atlanta by bringing his car home ninth.

LAST 10 RACES: Despite holding the points lead from the first Pocono race through Loudon, Kenseth has been somewhat cold in the past 10 races, posting only a 14.5 average finish. His best finishes have been a third place at Daytona and a fifth to end the regular season at Richmond.

LAST YEAR'S CHASE: Kenseth finished fourth in last year's Chase, his five top five finishes offset by finishes of 31st and 34th at Martinsville and Phoenix. His average finish in the final ten races was a solid 12.8, but an even better 7.9 without the two bum runs, which both came as a result of run-ins with Brian Vickers.

AT CHASE TRACKS: The 2003 champion's best Chase track is Texas, where two wins and 14 top 10s in 20 starts contribute to a strong 8.6 average finish. Meanwhile, three tracks haunt Kenseth in the Chase: Homestead (17.6 average finish), Phoenix (17.8) and Talladega (18.6), though he's scored wins at the first two.

OUTLOOK: In his final season with Roush Fenway Racing before moving on to greener pastures with Joe Gibbs, Kenseth is determined to go out with a bang. But Kenseth hasn't won since the season-opening race at Daytona, even though he has spent the majority of the season in the top three in points. Maybe a lame-duck crew chief can win a title, as Darian Grubb did last year, but it's never happened to a driver in the Chase era.

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