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Jimmie Johnson is the Sprint Cup Series' most recent winner.
Jimmie Johnson Has Returned to Form
Jimmie Johnson ended the regular season with the worst four-race stretch of his career. He finished 40th, 36th, 28th and 40th in the four races leading up to the postseason. During that time, he saw a 75-point lead in the standings turn into a one-point deficit following the regular-season finale in Richmond.
Since the playoffs got underway, Johnson has returned to top form. He followed up fifth- and fourth-place finishes in the first two Chase races with a win last weekend in Dover. The victory moves him to within eight points of championship leader Matt Kenseth.
Can Matt Kenseth Make it 3 Kansas Victories in a Row?
Point leader Matt Kenseth is the two-time defending winner at this speedway. He won this event one season ago and was also victorious when the Sprint Cup Series visited Kansas earlier this season. Not only has Kenseth visited Victory Lane each of the last two times at this track, he has also dominated both events.
He has led a combined 241 laps (out of a possible 534) in his two Kansas wins. Kenseth comes into this event with plenty of momentum. He has posted five top-10 finishes in the last six races and has won three times.
Other Chase Drivers Look to Build Some Momentum
For the drivers not in the top three in the standings, Kansas is the race where something positive needs to start happening. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have already begun to put quite a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the Chase contenders.
If any of the drivers currently ranked fourth through 13th have any chance at winning the championship, a win in Kansas is almost a necessity. Just three races into the playoffs, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle are the only three other championship contenders that are not already one full race's worth of points behind Kenseth.