Sunday, September 13, 2015

Regular-Season Finale at Richmond: AKA The Matt Kenseth Show

Matt Kenneth gets his four win at Richmond, tying him with Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch for the 2015 regular season
Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
Although there were no last-minute plot surprises, the season finale at Richmond unfolded in a dramatic fashion, especially if you are a Matt Kenseth fan, or a Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) fan for that matter. During portions of the race all four cars in the JGR stable were running nose to tail.

But in the end there was one driver who executed in dominant fashion to the tune of 352 laps led – Matt Kenseth. Only once before had Kenseth led more laps, and that was 415 at Bristol in 2005.

This is Kenseth’s fourth victory and 16th top-10 finish in 2015, and his second victory and 15th top- 10 finish in 32 races at Richmond International Raceway. This win puts Kenseth in an elite group of drivers who have won four times this year:  six time champion Jimmie Johnson and Kenseth's JGR teammate, Kyle Busch.

The race featured lots of long green runs with only six cautions, 13 lead changes and four leaders. Polesitter Joey Logano was the only non-JGR driver who was able to lead laps in race. 

During a caution for debris at Lap 290, Michael McDowell, driver of the #95 car, hit the safety truck and had to take his car to the garage, ending his day.

For Kenseth the dominating win put past disappointment into perspective, making the win even sweeter. “Man, we’ve had such good cars here the last couple months. So, I feel good for these guys. They’ve been giving us bullets. All four of our cars have been really stout. This is a nice way to roll into the Chase,” Kenseth said.

As he goes into the Chase it would be natural to think about the championship he won back in 2003, but to him there is no comparison.

“That was so long ago. There have been so many rules changes and so many things are different, but certainly right now as a company we’re on a roll. They’ve given me some fast cars here the last couple of months. Had a good one at Bristol and broke and I was the goat last weekend and drove it into the fence early in the race and ruined our day with probably the best car so it feels good to come here and do everything right and get the win,” he adds.

As the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup begins next week in Chicago, Kenseth Nation will be watching anxiously to see if another championship is about to unfold for the 43-year-old driver. Of course, there are 15 more drivers whose fans feel exactly the same way.

The Federated Auto Parts 400 race results:

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kyle Busch
3. Joey Logano
4. Aric Almirola
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Brad Keselowski
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Carl Edwards
12. Kyle Larson
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Kevin Harvick
15. Kurt Busch
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17. David Ragan
18. Kasey Kahne
19. Danica Patrick
20. Ryan Newman
21. Casey Mears
22. Brian Scott(i)
23. Trevor Bayne
24. AJ Allmendinger
25. Justin Allgaier
26. Paul Menard
27. Austin Dillon
28. Sam Hornish Jr.
29. Tony Stewart
30. Landon Cassill(i)
31. Greg Biffle
32. Martin Truex Jr.
33. David Gilliland
34. JJ Yeley(i)
35. Brett Moffitt 
36. Matt DiBenedetto 
37. Alex Bowman
38. Cole Whitt
39. Jeb Burton 
40. Jeffrey Earnhardt(i)
41. Reed Sorenson
42. Michael McDowell
43. Michael Annett

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