To win or not to win: Matt Kenseth gave it his best, fell just short
AUG 24, 2014 5:05p ET
If Matt Kenseth wanted to be in a position to win Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, he and his Joe Gibbs Racing crew were going to have to gamble late in the race.
With Jamie McMurray dominating the late stages of the race, Kenseth and crew chief Jason Ratcliff decided to stay out on the track when the majority of the field, including the race-leading McMurray, hit pit road under what turned out to be the final caution of the night with 68 laps to go.
Gaining all-important track position, Kenseth did his best to hold off the hard-charging Team Penske cars of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the final stages of the race.
Despite leading the next 22 laps, Kenseth was unable to keep Logano behind him as the driver of the No. 22 Ford made a bold move off the corner to retake the lead with 45 laps to go. While it was a close call, Kenseth said Logano did nothing wrong going for the lead.
"He left me enough room, an extra 200,000th or so," Kenseth joked. "With Joey, I was leading and obviously he was faster. I felt like I could do pretty good in (Turns) 3 and 4, and the top of (Turns) 1 and 2 got real choppy. The rubber started piling up and I wanted to be a little bit lower and I got high up in the corner up there and got in that choppy rubber and I slipped just a little bit, and I'm getting into 1, and I'm getting him alongside of me. Once you're side-by-side off 2 you know you're pretty much going to get the shaft going into 3."
Kenseth said he would have done the same thing had he been in Logano's position going for the lead late in the race.
"It would have been the same way if it was the other way around, so you pretty much know they're going to drive in until they're clear and then slide up as far as they can. That's really the only way you can pass here right now," he said. "It was actually a really good move. It was really calculated. I did everything I could to make him not make it. I drove in as hard as I could, too, but I couldn't get it in any farther without running over the fence, so we were both just doing everything we could to try to get up there for the win."
Still without a victory thus far in the 2014 season, Kenseth currently sits 13th in the Chase standings, the highest driver without a win. Kenseth owns a 63-point buffer over Kyle Larson, who is currently the first driver outside the Chase grid.
Headed into the final two races of NASCAR's regular season, Kenseth is still focused of finding his way to Victory Lane, something he was trying his best to do Saturday night.
"No matter what the points are or rewards are for winning, you always want to win," he said. "That's why we all do this. At the time I thought that was the best shot. I didn't even give points or the Chase or anything even a passing thought to be honest with you. I was just trying to figure out how we could go win the Bristol night race."
VIDEO: Matt Kenseth talks about finishing third in the Bristol night race