KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Matt Kenseth has excelled in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by maintaining an unrelenting focus on the next task at hand.
The 2003 series champion remains constant in that approach as he comes to Kansas Speedway, site of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET on NBC), even though he faces a formidable challenge with two races left in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
A succession of mistakes, both major and minor, cost Kenseth dearly last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in the Contender Round’s first race.
But the beginning of the end was contact with Ryan Newman’s Chevrolet. Kenseth hit the outside wall and damaged the suspension in his No. 20 Toyota. Ultimately, he would slam the outside wall and drop out of the race.
The resulting 42nd-place finish left Kenseth at the bottom of the Chase standings, 32 points behind eighth-place Brad Keselowski with only two opportunities — at Kansas and Talladega — either to advance to the Eliminator 8 Round by winning or to make up that enormous points deficit.
But for Kenseth, it’s business as usual.
“For me, it’s really no different,” Kenseth asserted before Friday’s opening Sprint Cup practice at Kansas Speedway. “We show up and try to do the best we can every week. Same this week.
“Obviously, a win moves you on, but I don’t feel like it’s a must-win. It would make it easier if we could win. (But we’ll) just try to do the best we can to qualify as good as we can and hopefully start up front and get working on the race (in Saturday’s practice) and hopefully be up front Sunday.”
There’s one statistic that could mitigate in Kenseth’s favor in the Hollywood Casino 400. He’s the only driver to have won twice at Kansas since the track was repaved in 2012.