Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Everything runs through Big 3
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (right) celebrates in victory lane with teammate Kyle Busch (left) after winning the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway last week. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Perhaps Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon will take advantage of their up-front starting spots and dominate things this afternoon in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and squeeze themselves squarely into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship mix.
Or might it be Kevin Harvick or Carl Edwards, who yet to have a say in this 2013 Chase?
They have been the class of the Sprint Cup series all season, they sit in the top three in points going into this afternoon's race and the chances are at least decent that one of them will succeed Brad Keselowski as champion.
Kenseth has won six, including last week's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson and Bush have won four each.
"Someone is going to have to show me more than those three have," said 1999 champion and ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett. "They've separated themselves throughout the year."
"He was showing some signs of maybe he is human," Bowyer said during a promotional appearance at Swenson Granite's quarry in Concord before the Richmond race. "A month ago, I was thinking the other, that maybe he was Superman or something."
He may not have been Superman, but he re-established himself as one of the guys to beat, if there had been any doubt about that.
He's worried not that his last win came at Daytona on July 6.
"When you get to the Chase, you can't look back at the regular season," Johnson said. "It's a 10-race stretch of its own. With that in mind, I haven't won in a week. I finished fifth and had a shot to win last week. . . . So, blinders on, focus on the No. 48."
Kenseth has made the transition to his new team appear seamless and has already hit a career-high in wins.
"Obviously they were having a lot of success. . . .Certainly I feel like I've had things to add, but I've really tried to fit into their system and then go from there."
"He's had a good sense this year of adding to our program and knowing what to add," Busch said.
Last year, Busch got edged out of the Chase in the last race at Richmond.
"As painful as last year was I think it served Kyle well, as a person and as a driver," Jarrett said. "I see a change in him. Whether it's this sport or another, sometimes you have to be knocked down to get your focus right."Blinders on.
firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @AllenLessels