The good news: Kenseth has raced well, posting eight top-five and
14 top-10 finishes in 23 starts this season.
Barring disaster, he should qualify for the Chase. Kenseth currently
ranks 13th on the Chase grid, 58 points ahead of the Chase Grid
bubble. Still, at this point, only a win can lock him in. Kenseth
has so many points that a victory at Bristol would catapult him to
the No. 8 spot in the Chase standings, ahead of all the one-win
drivers. It would also give him three bonus points for the
"Challenger Round" of the Chase.
"No, because you get the most points to win," said Kenseth, when
asked whether he thinks about not taking the chance to win due to
his high points total. "I don't ever know why you wouldn't want to
win. I get asked those questions all the time and people always look
at me like I'm being smart, but it's true."
Kenseth heads to Bristol for the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Saturday
(7:30 p.m. ET on ABC) with the mission of capturing that elusive
victory -- and a repeat win in the prestigious race. He captured the
checkered flag in this event last year and has won at the half-mile
track two other times.
"I always look forward to going to Bristol because I think that the
racing has always been pretty good there," Kenseth said. "The last
three races at Bristol, our No. 20 team has run really well even
though we got wrecked out of two of those races and won the third."
Kasey Kahne finds himself in a similar situation as Kenseth. The No.
5 Chevrolet driver notched one of his two victories at Bristol last
season, but has yet to find victory lane in 2013. Unlike Kenseth,
Kahne lurks outside the Chase in 17th, trailing Biffle by nine
points for the final spot. He too can control his destiny by
winning, guaranteeing himself a slot in the Chase, but otherwise, he
would have to hope for other fringe drivers to falter.
Kahne's victory last season is his lone triumph at Bristol, but he
does claim five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at the high-banked
"I'm really excited to go to Bristol," Kahne said. "Every time we
race at Bristol, I look forward to it. We've ran really well there
for a while now."
Sunoco Rookies look to continue season success at Bristol
Two is company, but three's a crowd in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.
Chris Buescher joined fellow first-year full-time drivers Chase
Elliot and Ty Dillon as the third Sunoco Rookie of the Year
contender to win on the circuit this season after taking the
checkered flag in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at
Mid-Ohio. The No. 60 Ford driver snatched the lead on the 66th lap
and did not look back on his way to the finish line, adding the
car's 91st win to its Nationwide record.
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Quick to move on, Mid-Ohio is now in his rearview as he focuses on
capturing his second win in this Friday's Food City 300 at Bristol (7:30
p.m. ET on ESPN). He currently ranks seventh in the points standings,
144 behind the leader Elliot.
"Obviously last weekend was really great for this team," he said. "We
had a strong car and were able to come away with our first win. But it's
back to work this weekend at Bristol."
Elliot and Dillon have winning plans of their own as they try to add a
Bristol victory their respective rookie seasons. Dillon, fourth in the
standings, currently trails Elliot by 28 points and a victory could go a
long way towards closing the gap. Elliot, on the other hand, can
increase his grasp on the lead as he attempts to notch his fourth
consecutive top-10 finish.
"Bristol is such a neat track, definitely one of our favorites to visit
because of the history and the fan support that we get," said Dillon,
who finished sixth in his March visit there. "From a racing stand point,
it's a very technical track and we've been gathering a healthy notebook
of information. I've re-watched some of the past races, spoke with Danny
(Stockman, crew chief) and the team and we feel confident about this
Friday night's race."
The 18-year-old Elliot, who placed ninth in the Nationwide's last stop
at Bristol expressed similar enthusiasm going into the race.
"Bristol is always an exciting place to go and I'm pumped to be back
there this weekend. We didn't have the run we were hoping for in the
spring, but we've been working hard to improve upon that this go-around.
Our goal is to stay in championship form and not let anything get us out
Buescher's checkered flag marked the fifth rookie first-place finish
this season (Elliot 3, Dillon 1) and the third in the last five races.
But can a fourth rookie join the party?
Dylan Kwasniewski, the 12th-ranked driver in the series, will look to do
just that, following his eighth place finish at Mid-Ohio.
"Hopefully we can build on this and carry our momentum into Bristol next
Friday night under the lights," Kwasniewski said.
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