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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Separation anxiety for Kenseth

Many drivers are not doing as well as they would like this year, but the driver who is perhaps most disappointed with his results is Matt Kenseth, a former champion who is used to running up front and making the Chase.

This year, he has fallen to 20th place in the standings, 153 points out of the Chase. To put that in perspective, he is only about 110 points ahead of former teammate Mark Martin, who has only run 8 of the 11 races this season.

Many forget that Kenseth's untouchable consistency during the 2003 Winston Cup season, during which he seemed to always be running in the top 10 but didn't win much, led to the creation of the Chase. In more recent years, he has continued this trend of getting solid finishes.

But this year, something is off and Kenseth is definitely not contending, often struggling to get even a decent finish. While one thing can't explain it, it's clear Kenseth does not have the same chemistry with his new crew chief Chip Bolin that his did with longtime crew chief Robbie Reiser, who was promoted within the Roush organization after last season. The pair had been together since Kenseth's stint in the Busch Series in the late 1990s, and were perhaps the tightest driver-crew chief team in the sport (right up there with Tony and Zippy).

This separation is clearly having an effect on Kenseth, not to mention tire and other mechanical issues at Roush, and unless he starts a string of solid finishes soon, chances are he'll be on the outside looking in come Chase time.

PIT STOP: Humpy Wheeler has made his famous pick for the weekend's All-Star race, and he's going with Carl Edwards. I disagree, and think this go-for-broke race where only winning matters is tailor-made for Kyle Busch, who races like that during regular races. Don't be surprised if he takes the checkers this Saturday night. The "Showdown" preceding the event is always a blast, with every driver doing whatever they can to make the big show, and I'm going to pick David Ragan to continue his streak of good races and take the win in that event.


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