Despite Charlotte fiasco, it’s still one day at a time for Matt Kenseth

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 16: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 16, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 16: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 16, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KS – OCTOBER 16: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 16, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

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.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.