Matt Kenseth unsatisfied after close call at Watkins Glen

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

By most counts Matt Kenseth’s runner-up result at Watkins Glen International was a great one.

But given how close the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion came to a win, and what that win would’ve done for his season and, perhaps more importantly, his career, second place proved a hard pill to swallow.

“I mean, man, all these years trying to do this it’s disappointing to come home second when I had a shot at him (Martin Truex Jr.) there,” Kenseth said.

Kenseth was one of many drivers to try to stretch their fuel to make it to the finish without a late stop. The Wisconsinite spent the majority of the race’s final run in fuel conservation, slowly moving his way toward the front of the field.

In the closing laps Kenseth found himself in contention for the race win was leaders Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney we each forced to pit road. Only one driver stood between Kenseth and his first road-course win – Martin Truex Jr.

Kenseth closed up on Truex, and in the final lap drew to the Furniture Row Racing driver’s rear bumper, but in the end Truex held on to the lead to claim his fourth victory of 2017.

“In all reality he just slowed down as much as I did and watched his back,” Kenseth said of Truex. “He had a lot faster car today, but the guys had a great strategy and I was able to save a lot early in that run and just tried to manage my back and the gap behind me and had enough fuel there for the end.”

Sunday’s result continued a recent trends of strong runs for Kenseth. The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran has tallied four top 10s his last four starts, rising up to ninth in the championship standings and maintaining the final playoff spot over Clint Bowyer by 28 points.

The 45-year old claims he hasn’t spent much time concerning himself with worries about making the playoffs. But in a season that’s seen 14 different victors, Kenseth understands that only race winners can truly feel confident about their postseason odds.

“I realize how many different winners there’s been, and there’s only, I think, maybe three spots or something left,” Kenseth said. “But honestly I feel like with driving for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and having Jason (Ratcliff) as my crew chief and the team we have that we shouldn’t be over a year without a win.

“It’s kind of our own doing no matter what happens. We’re running a lot better lately. At the beginning of the year we ran so‑so and just had so many DNFs, so many problems and no stage points, just got buried in the points. So, we’ve been able to make a little comeback in the points, which is nice especially for the season that we’ve had. But, lately we’ve been running a lot better, and I feel like we keep running like this, hopefully we can get a win the next few weeks.”

Kenseth joins Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray as drivers that hope additional surprise winners don’t crop up. Each driver is currently holding a playoff position on points. Kenseth is likely also hopeful for a deep run in the playoffs – a resume addition he could use given his lack of a place at JGR next season.


One Comment

  1. Sol Shine

    August 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Sad year, lot of silly season stuff happening that isn’t good. Major cuts going on, sponsors aren’t paying the big bucks anymore, get rid of the veteran drivers who are used to being paid millions and replace them with kids like Larson who reputedly is making nowhere near half a million. Yeah, the young guys can do the job, but so can the vets by and large. None of this would be happening if Nascar didn’t keep monkeying about with their format and driving long term fans away in search of “new fans”. Like the ones Danica brought, who are long gone to the next big fad. Poor management making poor decisions. I love this sport and it’s tragic to see what’s going on.

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