Running Hot: Matt Kenseth Establishes Sprint Cup Chase Streak With Sylvania 300 Win At NHMS

LOUDON, N.H. – In 2003, Matt Kenseth’s consistent domination of the competition in the Sprint Cup Series on the way to his first series title set in motion the decision for NASCAR to create the Chase for the Championship playoff system.

Matt Kenseth celebrates his Sylvania 300 victory Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Matt Kenseth celebrates his Sylvania 300 victory Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A decade later Kenseth is looking like the ultimate season dominator again.

Kenseth won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Kenseth, in his first season driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, also won the Chase for the Championship opening event last week at Chicagoland Speedway.

His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was second for the second consecutive and Greg Biffle was third.

Overall it was the seventh victory of the season for Kenseth, who now leads Busch by 14 points in the standings with eight events remaining in the Chase.

“I’m just taking it one week at a time,” Kenseth said. “It’s been a great start for [Joe Gibbs Racing]. Kyle ran second both races and had strong cars. All three teams right now are working really closely together. I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be standing here.”

It was the first career victory for Kenseth in 28 career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“This is just an unbelievable opportunity,” Kenseth said. “For me to win at Loudon first of all is more than a stretch and more than a dream. It’s probably one of my worst places. That just shows you how good this team is.”

Kenseth was making his 500th career Sprint Cup Series start Sunday and became only the second driver in Sprint Cup Series history to win on the day of the milestone. Richard Petty was the only other driver to accomplish the feat.

Kenseth came to Joe Gibbs Racing after spending 13 seasons competing for Roush Fenway Racing.

“If you get the right people in your organization everything else is easy.” Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said. “… And we just have a great team.”

Kenseth became the third driver in the 10 years of the Chase for the Championship system to win the first two races. Biffle accomplished the feat in 2008 and went on to finish third in the standings. Tony Steward did it in 2011 and won the championship.

When Kenseth won his first series title in 2003 he did it by way amazing consistency, recording just a single victory that season despite running away with the title.

“I don’t think there’s a magic formula,” Kenseth said. “You just have to have more points than the guy who finishes second.”

Biffle, now fifth in the standings, spent 10 years as Kenseth’s teammate at Roush Fenway Racing.

“I won the first two Chase races before and didn’t win the championship,” Biffle said. “Anything can happen.”

Said Busch: “It reminds me of a similar situation in 2008. Matt is just executing the end of the deal which is what you’re supposed to do. I won eight of the first 26 and then fell flat on my face. Matt is doing a real good job obviously. He’s one of the best. That’s why we went and talked to him to hire him and that’s why he’s here. He’s put it all together.”

Kenseth started ninth and led a race high 106 laps, including the final 53. He beat Busch to the checkered by .533 seconds.

“Sometimes you have a special car, sometimes you unload with them and they’re just phenomenal,” Busch said. “[Kenseth] had that here this weekend. We tried everything to keep up with him and keep pace with him but it was tough to do.”

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