Hot 20 over the past 10 – Kenseth heads to Darlington 38 points richer

Funny what 38 points can do for a driver. That is the amount NASCAR gave back to Matt Kenseth after hearing the appeal for that engine violation that bit him after Kansas. For the 2003 champion, the change of mind moved him from outside a Chase place all the way up to fourth in the standings.

His boss, Joe Gibbs, had all penalties removed from him. Crew chief Jason Radcliff will only have to take a one race vacation, instead of six, but he did not exactly get a free pass. His $200,000 fine was upheld. I think he might have some help in paying that off. Maybe the good folks who built the engine, Toyota Racing Development, might want to chip in. Maybe the chap whose job it is to check the manifest that outlined the parts and their weights might open his wallet, too.

While the fact the team did have a chance to catch the miscue off that manifest, this penalty seemed more in line with what the transgression warranted. The engine part did not enhance performance, did not influence the race outcome, and was obviously unintentional. In this case, justice has been served, and that is something we don’t often say when it comes to NASCAR.

With the return of those points, Kenseth is our biggest mover of the past week as he is now our fourth hottest driver, instead of 16th. Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr, with ten points races to his credit, is up seven positions to 16th. Cooling down, both Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch drop four notches over the past week.

Saturday night marks the 110th Sprint Cup race held at Darlington, South Carolina since 1950. Of the drivers entered, nine have claimed a victory on the track too tough to tame. Jeff Gordon has seven, with his last coming in 2005. In an eight race run, from the fall of 1995 to the spring of 1999, Gordon won five with another trio of Top Fives.

The favorite? Maybe that would be one Jimmie Kenneth Johnson, the winner of three, including the event there one year ago. Among the other present Chase contenders, only Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle (with two) have won there. Mind you, after last week, maybe there might be yet another surprise in the offing.


Name Points POS LW W T5 T10
  Jimmie Johnson  383 1 1 2 5 7
  Carl Edwards  342 2 2 1 5 6
  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  324 3 4 0 3 6
  Matt Kenseth  317 4 16 2 2 6
  Clint Bowyer  316 5 3 0 4 5
  Brad Keselowski  314 6 7 0 4 7
  Kasey Kahne  299 7 5 1 4 5
  Aric Almirola  293 8 11 0 0 4
  Paul Menard  290 9 10 0 0 4
  Kyle Busch  285 10 6 2 5 5
  Greg Biffle  280 11 8 0 1 4
  Kevin Harvick  276 12 9 1 1 2
  Martin Truex, Jr.  269 13 14 0 2 4
  Jeff Gordon  269 14 12 0 1 2
  Jamie McMurray  267 15 15 0 0 3
  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  256 16 23 0 0 0
  Ryan Newman  242 17 13 0 1 4
  Joey Logano  237 18 17 0 3 3
  Jeff Burton  235 19 19 0 1 2
  Kurt Busch  231 20 18 0 2 3

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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