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The Final Word – Michigan was Matt’s world and everyone else just happened to be in it

Matt Kenseth, this is your life. Well, at least Michigan was his race, his and his alone. Of the 200 laps run, Kenseth led 143 of them to claim his third of the season, and 34th of his career.

It was a Joe Gibbs sort of day. His drivers finished first, fifth (Denny Hamlin), sixth (Carl Edwards), and 11th (Kyle Busch). In 23 events, his boys have laid claim to nine of them, and exactly half of the past 18.

The only Gibbs owned outfit not yet secured in the Chase is that of Kyle Busch, he of four victories in just a dozen attempts. All he needs to do is stay among the Top 30 in points to make those wins count, and currently he sits 29th and 23 points to the good. Barring terrible misfortune, he should be able to build on that.

Anyone in a Chase place a week ago remains in one today. Even Clint Bowyer, who tore up his car, tossed a bunch of points in the air, yet remains in by 23 points over Aric Almirola. That should pose no problems for him, unless he does it again or someone below him in the standings wins between now and when they wrap things up in Richmond.

With Bristol next, a look at past active winners there indicates that all sit above him in the rankings…except one. That is where Kasey Kahne won in the spring of 2013. It is, in my opinion, one of NASCAR’s marquee venues. While it does not provide the surprise winners that Daytona and Talladega sometimes do, bad things often happen to good cars within that coliseum. Ben Hur would be at home on that track.

Along with the usual great reasons to tune in a Bristol race, we will watch this one to see if Rowdy can build on his lead over Cole Whitt, who sits 31st in the standings. We will watch to see if Bowyer can rebuild his advantage over Almirola and Kahne. We will watch to see if what we saw last week from Austin Dillon, placing fourth and a challenger all day, might equate into a surprise win at a track he has thus far shown some strength at.

I mean, at one time Jeff Gordon or neither Busch brother had won there, and they each now have five. No time like the present for Mr. Dillon to thrill Festus, Chester, Miss Kitty and Doc by laying claim to a Bristol checkered flag, taking a Chase place, and making life difficult for a few of his peers.

Then again, Kenseth probably has desires of joining the five win club himself. The way the four-time Bristol victor is running right now, including his win there last April, next Sunday could turn out to be his race as well. Maybe this really is Matt’s world, and we just happen to be in it.

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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