By Rich Phillips
There were no punches thrown, no wrestling on pit road or in the garage, but there’s no doubt that Matt Kenseth was fuming after Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
Matt Kenseth entered Kansas 32 points out of the top eight, but he was in perfect position to recover Sunday. Kenseth was leading with five laps to go when lapped traffic caused some problems. He had to slow up on the front stretch to negotiate the traffic, allowing Joey Logano to roar up from behind. Kenseth blocked Logano on the high side at the start-finish line, and then tried to block again going into turn one. Logano decided not to lift and spun out the 20 car, sending him to the tail end of the lead lap for the ensuing green-white-checkered finish.
Of course Kenseth blamed Logano for just flat-out wrecking him. And Logano said it was just good, hard racing for the win. I take Logano’s side in this scrap. Kenseth had two choices, to block Logano or stay up high and allow the 22 car to likely pass him on the inside. Sitting last among the Chasers and needing a win to advance, Kenseth made the only choice he could. But he also should have been prepared for the possible consequences.
Logano Wins Again
The consequences are that Logano had two choices as well, to lift or not to lift. He chose the latter as one would expect with five laps to go and the checkered flag in sight. Logano stayed in the gas and went on to his second straight win, thereby keeping eleven other Chasers in limbo going into an elimination race. The 22 car is the only one we know for sure will be in the Eliminator 8 when the Chase comes to No Limits, Texas. And Logano continues to look primed for his first Sprint Cup Championship.
The two drivers didn’t scuffle after the race. They didn’t even talk as far as anyone knows. This battle is very tame for now, but certainly Logano does not have a friend driving the #20. And should Kenseth be eliminated at Talladega, Logano had better watch his back at Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix. Surely the 20 will be hunting the 22 for some revenge.
Others in Trouble
Matt Kenseth is not the only driver in dire circumstances heading to Talladega this weekend. While Kenseth is 35 points out of the top eight, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 31 points back. Junior had another rough day at Kansas, having to pit under green for a loose wheel. He’s been outside the top 20 in three of five Chase races, but is the only guy who feels good about Talladega. Probably because he’s tied for the active lead in wins on the track with six.
Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman are also outside the top eight, but in all honesty they shouldn’t feel much more pressure than the Chasers in spots two-through-eight. A large point lead didn’t work out for Jimmie Johnson in the last elimination race, but that was only because of a mechanical issue. This week at Talladega there is always the threat of the “big one” that could take out a dozen or more cars with only two drivers at fault.
Once the dust settles Sunday the Eliminator 8 will be set. Then you’ll know who to root for in the Chase for the Sprint Cup when they come to Texas Motor Speedway on November 8th for the AAA Texas 500. Buy your tickets here.
Rich Phillips is the Voice of Texas Motor Speedway and host of the weekly radio show Texas Motor Speedway’s Total Access. Click here to find a station near you.
We'd like to congratulate Kayla Miller on winning fan of the month for October! Learn more about Kayla and her love of NASCAR racing at her home track below. To enter to win the fan of the month for November, enter here!
Where are you from?
Which race was your first?
My first race was April of 2009 and I haven’t missed one since! I believe Jeff Gordon won that day.
Which race is most memorable?
I guess my most memorable race would be the November race of 2009. My son was in Basic Training at Ft. Benning when the Ft. Hood shootings took place. I missed him so much. Texas Motor Speedway had a tribute to them on the grass inside the track. I was so overwhelmed during the National Anthem that I couldn’t stay in the stands. I went below to be by myself and to get it together when I ran into a group of soldiers! Well needless to say I was a mess. One of them walked right up to me, hugged me and said “He’s going to be OK mom”……. I don’t even know their name. What I do know is that NASCAR and TMS embrace our military and their families and I’m forever grateful for that. I still have a hard time during the National Anthem.
Who is your favorite driver?
I’m a die-hard Dale Junior Fan! I turned 50 last year and my friends helped me celebrate by giving me a Dale Jr NASCAR party! It was so much fun! They even gave me a life size card board cut out of Junior…….He watches the race with us every week!
Who is your least favorite driver?
Kyle Busch would be my least favorite driver. My Race Day mantra used to be Somebody Hit Kyle. I never wanted him hurt, but if you just tapped his bumper, it would ruin his whole day……I would never wish anyone hurt, but you can nudge him a little!
What is your favorite part about race day?
I guess my favorite part of race day would have to be the start of the race. The excitement in the air. The Fly Over (even the lower scale ones have grown on me). The Driver intro’s……all the fan fare that goes along with finally getting the race started.
What advice would you give new fans?
My advice to new fans would be to “Just do it. Don’t wait for the perfect day, perfect price or whatever excuse you have. Every seat at Texas Motor Speedway is a GOOD seat! I don’t care if it was $ 49.00 or $490.00. Pack a lunch, some ear plugs, your kids and your favorite beverage and come on out to the race! Be sure and check the info online and you will discover lots of ways to expand your race experience. Don’t wait any longer. Just do it.
Chris Buescher basically grew up at Texas Motor Speedway. The native of Prosper started racing Bandoleros at TMS when he was nine. At the age of 12 he moved up to Legends and has been rising ever since.
Buescher is now in his second full season driving the #60 for Roush Fenway in the NASCAR XFINTY Series and he’s aiming for the championship. He’s won races at Iowa and Dover and has been leading the points for 20 consecutive weeks.
Total Access host Rich Phillips caught up with Buescher ahead of this week’s XFINITY Series race at Kansas. They discussed everything from racing for a title run to playing in the high school band. Click below to listen.
Chris Buescher and the NASCAR XFINITY Series come to Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 7th, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. For tickets click here.
Rich Phillips is the voice of Texas Motor Speedway and host of the weekly radio show Texas Motor Speedway’s Total Access. Click here to find a station near you.