NASCAR

Martinsville a challenge for Kenseth

ROADBLOCK AHEAD?
Matt Kenseth (20) has never won at Martinsville Speedway.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Historically, Matt Kenseth has been terrible at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Yet, this year, he won.

He’s traditionally never been all that great at Martinsville, where we are racing this weekend, either. However, turn back the hands of time to this spring: Matt led laps there and was in contention. So, he has a reason to be optimistic this weekend.

Matt grew up driving on the short tracks. Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing has been a completely different opportunity for Matt than in the past. You have to believe that was a factor in Matt’s decision to move over to JGR this year, because he wanted to improve at the tracks where he has struggled.

Even though we are going to what is known as Jimmie Johnson’s playground – Martinsville Speedway – Matt’s mission Sunday is to minimize the damage. Even if Jimmie were to win Sunday and yet Matt be able to finish in the top five, that’s a pretty big statement for Matt to make, and it still keeps him close to Jimmie in the points.

Matt wants to just get through this weekend and keep the damage at a minimum. He also wants to be ready to take advantage if for some strange reason Jimmie would unexpectedly run into trouble. It’s all about attitude, and Matt has a totally different outlook on things. Whether he wins the championship or not, Matt has had an incredible season.

I also think having Denny Hamlin as his teammate this year, especially with as well as Denny runs at Martinsville, is a plus. Martinsville is all about style, feel and finesse. If Matt can adapt himself to Denny’s style at Martinsville, it gives him speed and saves his brakes. If Matt can go to school on Denny’s setup and driving style, then Matt has to feel confident going to Martinsville this weekend, because Denny has been one of the few guys to beat Jimmie at Martinsville.
 

Tagged: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin

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