NASCAR

Kenseth needs to step up in Chase

Matt Kenseth (right) talks with crew chief Jimmy Fennig
Crew chief Jimmy Fennig (left) and Matt Kenseth are chasing the title.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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I think that the experience and professionalism Matt Kenseth has, that crew chief Jimmy Fennig has and, quite honestly, that their whole Roush Fenway Racing team has will have an impact on how they handle NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup knowing that Kenseth is leaving at season’s end.

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Certainly, it’s going to be on their minds; they’re human. They know there are only 10 more races they are going to be together. But if anybody can do it, that group can block it out and go ahead and battle for more wins and for this championship.

I have to say, they have work to do.

If Kenseth was not leaving there, they still have work to do because right now they’re just an also-ran.

They finish races, they finish on the lead lap, they somehow find their way to the top 10, but those things are not going to win you a championship. And I basically say the same thing for his teammate, Greg Biffle. I know he just won Michigan about a month ago, but he and Matt Kenseth, they’re just there right now. And just being there is not going to win a championship.

When I look at the 12 teams and drivers that made this Chase, to me the, ones that I’m going to be anxiously watching when we go to the next races at Chicago and Loudon and Dover are Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, the Roush Fenway drivers and Kasey Kahne.

Stewart overcame a lot at Richmond. He struggled in practice and qualifying but then finished well in the race. That was a pretty good statement, but I’m anxious to see how the Chicago race goes and the Loudon and Dover races.

I’m anxious to watch Harvick, who has no wins this year. I’m anxious to watch those two Roush Fenway drivers because they just have not really been where they needed to be of late. And I’m anxious to see how Kahne unfolds now that he’s the other wild card in the Chase.

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Now the championship battle really begins.

Ten races is a lot of races, but I still think it’s important to come out of the box solid.

Does having a teammate not in the Chase help?

I don’t know if it’s good, if it’s bad or if it makes no difference.

Obviously, when you look over there at Michael Waltrip Racing, the team that won Richmond with driver Clint Bowyer and put not one but two drivers in the Chase, maybe Mark Martin (or Michael Waltrip or Brian Vickers, who share the ride) can step out of the box and try some stuff. And if it really looks like it has promise, bleed it over to Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

Maybe Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, but in particular Busch, can try some things that maybe will help him get a win but that he can also feed to Denny Hamlin, who is in the Chase. And the same is the case for almost everyone else in the Chase.

The team that it better be good to have a teammate because there’s four of them there is Hendrick Motorsports.

I can’t sit here and tell you if it’s good or it’s bad or if it even makes a difference. We’ll have to watch and see.

Tagged: Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip

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