Matt Kenseth leads in practice, starts from the pole, and might just win!
Could today's race be the same?
The track was reconfigured a year ago, and some drivers haven't gotten a handle on how to drive the track. In practice Friday, there were comments that drivers couldn't tell when to let off on the gas to make the corners. Even Jeff Gordon crashed in qualifying!
However, former Jack Roush driver, Matt Kenseth, led the way. While driving for Roush Matt set the track record for qualifying, prior to the reconfiguration. Now that he has moved to Gibbs, Matt seems to have really found his stride. While the experts are saying "watch out for Kyle Busch" others are watching the strength of Kenseth. I would be one of those.
Kyle is an all or nothing kind of driver. Yes, he is hot right now, but if his emotions get the best of him, he can make questionable choices. Can the same be said for Matt? Well, yes, it can be said for anyone, but Matt has been doing this a while longer, and he has something to prove. He won a championship with Roush, but then seemed to settle in to mid pack in the Championship race. Now he has a new lease on life and wants his second championship. Will he win today? Good chance.
And as an aside, watch out for big brother, Kurt. He has given Furniture Row Racing the best season they have had in a long time, with better finishes than most of the multi-car teams. Don't count him out.
We know any of these guys can win, but what of Kenseth's former team? Ricky Stenhouse Jr took over his ride, and seems to be a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year status. He starts on the second row. Can he win his first Cup race? Or what of Carl Edwards? He starts alongside Kenseth. Can he put the Blue Oval of Ford in Victory Lane?
Apparently, Roush has pledged to donate $100 to charity for every lap one of his drivers leads. Greg Biffle stepped up to the plate on NASCAR Raceday, and said he will donate $100 for every lap the 16 leads. The Fords are fast, make no mistake. Roush and Biffle could both be handing over a chunk of change.
Suspiciously absent in discussions so far are the Chevrolets. Hendrick Motorsports driver, Jeff Gordon, crashed in qualifying, as I said above. His car was described by Michael Waltrip as dog meat. His teammates haven't been much better, not even Kasey Kahne, who set a qualifying record last year, just after the reconfiguration. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 21st to find the highest qualifier from HMS. That would be Jimmie Johnson. Dale Jr is next at 23rd, with Kasey in 27th. Jeff starts dead last. This will not be the way they finish, I am sure. Once again, the teams are racing with heavy hearts. Sean Collier, the MIT Policeman ambushed by the Marathon bombers on Thursday night, was brother to Hendrick employee, Andrew. Watch for them to do their best to honor their friend.
It's time to go racing! Who have you got? Who is going to win? Who will be first to wreck? It's all here! Let's go!