For Kenseth, Kansas race could be big

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DAVE SKRETTA

kansas city, kan. — Matt Kenseth walked qui­etly into the in­ter­view at Kansas Speedway, sat be­hind a mi­cro­phone and was asked to re­flect on last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup cham­pi­onship.

“I can hardly re­mem­ber last week,” he replied, “much less last year.” That’s prob­a­bly a good thing. Just about every­thing that could go wrong for Kenseth did a week ago at Char­lotte, from pitroad penal­ties to rub­bing the wall. He fin­ished so far off the lead that his Chase hopes took a ma­jor hit, and now he ar­rives at Kansas for the Hol­ly­wood Casino 400 in des­per­ate need of a vic­tory that would guar­an­tee him one of the eight spots in the “elim­i­na­tor” round.

If not this week, then it would have to come next week at Tal­ladega — an even big­ger wild-card track.

“For me it’s re­ally no dif­fer­ent. We try to show up and try to do the best we can ev­ery week,” Kenseth said. “Same this week. Ob­vi­ously a win moves you on, but I don’t think this is a must-win. Just try to do the best we can and be ready on Sun­day.”

Kenseth has ev­ery rea­son to be op­ti­mistic this week­end.

Start with the fact he has won twice at Kansas, has sat on the pole twice more and has put to­gether six top-five fin­ishes at the speedy mile-and-a-half tri-oval. He has led more than 500 laps in all and has been in the top 10 in nine of his past 10 starts.

Then con­sider that his five vic­to­ries this sea­son are the most of any driver and that his Joe Gibbs Rac­ing sta­ble won 13 times in all, more than any other team.

So does all that pos­i­tive karma mean Kenseth — who will start 11th on Sun­day — is more apt to take chances in the 400-mile race?

“The re­wards are greater if you win, ob­vi­ously. I don’t know if the penalty is worse or not” if a risky ma­neu­ver fails, he replied.

Hol­ly­wood Casino 400

Kansas Speedway, 2 p.m., NBC

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