Why Matt Kenseth’s string of bad luck could end at Bristol
Is this the week Matt Kenseth’s streak of rotten luck ends?
Sooner or later, it has to.
Kenseth is one of the sport’s top drivers, having won five races last year and seven in 2013. He’s with Joe Gibbs Racing, who right now is the best team in the sport.
But this year, the only luck Kenseth has had has all been bad.
Through the first seven races of the 2016 season, Kenseth has consistently run up front and led laps. He just doesn’t have the finishes to show for it.
Let’s review the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion’s misfortunes:
DAYTONA — Kenseth led 40 laps of the Daytona 500, and was ahead from Lap 160-199. On the 200th and final lap, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin passed Kenseth on the last lap, hanging him out in the draft. Kenseth finished 14th.
ATLANTA — Although Kenseth led 47 laps at Atlanta, he got dinged for illegal fueling on a pit stop, and while the team was arguing the penalty, he went down two laps, ending the day 19th.
LAS VEGAS — After 209 of 267 laps, Kenseth was leading. But on Lap 224, he got the air taken off the back of his car and he hit the wall, finishing 37th.
PHOENIX — With no major issues, Kenseth ended up seventh, his best result of the season so far.
AUTO CLUB — On Lap 148, Kenseth had to pit out of sequence during a green-flag run for a tire going down. Caught speeding on pit road, he finished 19th.
MARTINSVILLE — Kenseth was running second when the final green-flag flew on Lap 490. Again, he got hung on the outside and fell all the way back to 15th at the end.
TEXAS — After leading 20 laps, Kenseth had a lug-nut issue on pit road on Lap 279 of 334 and finished 11th.
So this week, NASCAR heads to Bristol for the running of Sunday’s Food City 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET), a race Kenseth won last year.
If Kenseth is to turn things around, Bristol would be a great place to start. He has four victories and 13 top-five finishes at the 0.533-mile Tennessee track, where he’s led 1,430 laps.
Look at the stats: Kenseth is second among active drivers in Bristol victories — the Busch brothers have five each — second in laps led and third in average finish.
He’s due to bust out soon.
And it just might happen Sunday at Bristol.