Is NASCAR’s playoff already down to just Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson for the title race?
By this time last year, Matt Kenseth was virtually eliminated from Chase for the Sprint Cup contention and knew it would take “a small miracle to get back in it.”
Clearly, he’s enjoying his current position – tops in the standings by 14 points over teammate Kyle Busch – much more.
“I’d like to be out front as far as you could possibly be out there,” Kenseth said Friday at Dover International Speedway.
By winning the first two races, Kenseth has been able to shake most of the competition with eight weeks to go. Only Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch and Jimmie Johnson (18 points behind) are threatening for now; fourth-place Carl Edwards is 36 points behind and would need all three drivers to have a bad race to get back into contention.
So is the Chase already a three-man race?
“I mean, it’s easy to look at it that way,” Johnson said. “But I’m not putting my guard down. We still have Talladega and a lot of these tracks can take out multiple cars.
“I’m certainly looking forward and there are only two guys that I’m paying attention to right now, so in that mindset, sure, you can call it a three-man race. (But) it’s still way too early to count many out yet.”
Busch agreed it was too early, but acknowledged he hasn’t looked at the point standings. He said he could guess who was in the top three, but honestly didn’t know after that.
“I really don’t care right now,” he said. “It all gets jumbled up in the beginning and it all gets mixed together in the middle. I’d say you wait through Talladega and once you get past that, you’ll know who your players are going to be.”
Fifth-place Greg Biffle certainly isn’t ready to count himself out of the championship hunt. He told reporters on Thursday that “the guys who say it’s a three-man race are stupid.”
“I mean, there’s just no possible way you could call this a three-man race right now,” he said. “(The JGR drivers have) had a lot of engine troubles, Talladega is around the corner. Anything can happen.”