Skip to content

After Charlotte, Kenseth up four points on Johnson in Chase

Oct 13, 2013, 12:22 AM EDT

Matt Kenseth AP

What seemed to be a sure win for Jimmie Johnson tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway instead went to Brad Keselowski. And what seemed to be the perfect situation for Johnson to overtake Matt Kenseth (pictured) for the lead in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup instead ended with Kenseth still atop the standings with five races left.

Kenseth and Johnson ultimately finished third and fourth in the Bank of America 500. That effectively constitutes a draw, as Kenseth was only able to extend his lead in the Chase by one point to a margin of four as the scene shifts to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.

But Kenseth will surely take it, especially as it appeared that Johnson would be the new Chase leader coming out of North Carolina this evening. He’d been crushing the competition in the middle stages of the race, but a debris caution with 27 laps left changed everything.

As the yellow waved, Johnson led the race leaders to the pits for their final stops of the night but dropped back to third when he took four tires, while Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne took two and grabbed first and second positions respectively.

Then, instead of capitalizing on his four fresh Goodyears, Johnson fell all the way back to seventh after a poor restart. He would regain three of those lost positions back, but an opportunity to seize control of the championship had vanished.

Still, Johnson – as usual – tried to keep on an even keel about the situation.

“I wish we’d finished better, but it was still a strong performance for the Lowe’s car,” Johnson said to ESPN. “I’m very proud of the effort – we had a fast car, great qualifying, great pit stops. Everything’s there. We’ll just keep doing our jobs and work at it week after week, and see what we can get.”

But with Charlotte in the rear view mirror, the biggest wild card in the post-season now beckons. Nothing more and nothing less than a 200 mile-per-hour game of Russian Roulette, Talladega and its dreaded “Big One” can wipe out championship dreams in an instant.

For his part, Kenseth emphasized both Dega’s unpredictable nature and the fact that he still has the Chase lead when asked about what awaits him and the rest of the Chasers in Alabama.

“Jimmie’s certainly been strong in the [restrictor] plate races and Harvick’s always been good there, but you never really know what’s going to happen at Talladega,” he said.

“But I’m glad we’re still in the lead. We have a lot of racing to do, we made it through the first half of [the Chase] and have maintained a very small lead, so it’s better than being behind. We’ll go to Talladega, race hard, hope our car has some speed in it, and be able to hang up front.”

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 7 p.m. ET recaps Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Recapping Talladega on NASCAR AMERICA.

  2. Despite elimination, Kyle Busch’s crew chief says Chase format is fair

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    A great post-season for Busch was erased by a mid-race crash on Sunday at Talladega, but crew chief Dave Rogers says there’s no point in blaming the rules of the new Chase.

  3. Remembering racing legend Raymond Beadle: ‘Once upon a time, I was the best at what I did’

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN) Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN)

    They say they always do things bigger in Texas, and that phrase would perfectly describe legendary former drag racer and NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle.

  4. Doug Coby earns second NASCAR Whelen Mods title in three years

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

    NASCAR Whelen Modfiied Tour - Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart  - Thompson Getty Images

    Coby finishes 17th in the season finale at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, but earns the 2014 series title by 22 points over race winner Ryan Preece.

  5. 3-time NHRA champ, NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dead at 70

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net

    Beadle helped bring the “Blue Max” brand to prominence in drag racing, and guided NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace to his lone Winston Cup title.

  6. DTM champion Marco Wittmann to test for Toro Rosso

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    WittmannDTM Getty Images

    DTM champion will test for Toro Rosso.

  7. Penske’s dream season still alive in Sprint Cup

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    PenskeDega Getty Images

    Both of Team Penske’s drivers advance to Eliminator round of Chase, which saves the ignominy of one of the winningest drivers this year going home.

  8. FIA creates accident panel to investigate Jules Bianchi crash

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ENG-SILVERSTONE Getty Images

    The organization says it will make a full presentation on its findings during the next World Motor Sport Council meeting in December.

  9. Weekend wrap: Brad Keselowski rises up to Talladega challenge

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Love him or loathe him, Keselowski deserves respect for coming through in the clutch like he did on Sunday.

  10. Besides Cassill, several others score season-bests at Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    WaltripDega2 Getty Images

    After Cassill, Kvapil’s sixth leads a quartet of more surprise drivers in top-20 Sunday at Talladega.

  11. Daniel Ricciardo makes a trip to Supercross in Las Vegas (PHOTOS)

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ricciardo comes to the U.S. early for Supercross.

  12. The irony of a winless driver winning a title in the new Chase still exists

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    NewmanKenseth Getty Images

    A potential nightmare situation for Sprint Cup’s new Chase still exists, in the form of two as-yet winless drivers still battling for a title in 2014.

  13. Landon Cassill posts career-best fourth place at Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    CassillDega2

    Career day for Landon Cassill ends not only with his first Cup top-five, but first top-10.

  14. Hulkenberg confirmed for another season at Force India

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:21 AM EDT

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    Nico Hulkenberg gets another year with Force India.

  15. Roger Penske defends Keselowski, says other drivers “jealous” of his success

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Sprint All-Star Race - Qualifying Getty Images

    The Captain doesn’t mind some emotion and edge from his veteran driver.

  16. What will NASCAR fans do now that their favorite drivers are eliminated from Chase?

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:19 PM EDT

    (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

    If you’re a hardcore NASCAR fan, even if your favorite driver has been eliminated for the remainder of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, you’re probably asking a very poignant question: Now what?

Video from NASCAR America

Terry Labonte's milestone race
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (2158)
  2. K. Busch (1930)
  3. J. McMurray (1430)
  4. T. Stewart (1299)
  5. J. Gordon (1277)