Kenseth: Johnson could run 28th “with three wheels”

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Matt Kenseth minced no words when describing how easy it could be for Jimmie Johnson to finish 28th, at a bare minimum, in Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400.

“Obviously we’re not going to make up the deficit on performance.  I think Jimmie could run 28th through the grass or with three wheels on,” he joked during today’s media conference at Homestead.

“He’s going to have to have a mechanical problem or crash to make something happen.  We’ll have to be up in the top five to hold on to second or to overtake Jimmie if he has a problem.”

Indeed Kenseth lost any edge he had last week at Phoenix, while Johnson’s third place has put him in a very strong position to clinch his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this weekend.

Kenseth appears more focused on holding onto second in points over Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick. Harvick is among a handful of drivers making their final starts with their respective teams this weekend; he signs off his seat at Richard Childress Racing.

“We have to outrun Kevin to maintain second,” Kenseth said. “If Jimmie does have a problem, he’s so far ahead, the problem needs to be fairly severe.  If it is, you need to be pretty far toward the front because hypothetically he could have a problem, if Kevin and I are running around 12th and 13th, Jimmie could still win. We have to go out with the idea of trying to win the race, lead laps, be in the front group, trying to get the best finish we can.”

Harvick, meanwhile, has the opportunity for his best ever finish in the championship after several third place finishes.

“I feel like we as a team have done better than what we’ve done in the past as far as the Chase goes with winning, which is what we felt like we needed to win a race or two in the Chase,” he said. “We knew going in we couldn’t make any mistakes because you’re racing against guys that have had a great year, are capable of winning every week.  So we knew when we left Loudon that we had made a big mistake.  That’s just the way it goes.  You just have to race every week.  We’ve had a good Chase.”

The battle for second may not be as “sexy” as the one for the championship, but it is the more likely one to play out on Sunday.

But hey, maybe Kenseth’s prognostication comes to fruition and Johnson drives a tricycle for a lap or two. It would certainly spice things up.

Ticktum takes dramatic Macau GP win as leaders crash on last lap

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British youngster Dan Ticktum took a dramatic victory in the 64th Macau Grand Prix on Sunday after the leading two cars crashed out at the final corner on the last lap of the race.

In an incident-packed race that saw front-row starters Joel Eriksson and Callum Ilott clash early on amid a litany of Full Course Yellows, Brazilian racer Sergio Sette Camara was able to move into the lead ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Maximilian Günther.

Günther’s pace dropped off in the closing stages as he struggled to keep his tires alive, causing a train of cars to form up behind him including McLaren youngster Lando Norris and the Red Bull-backed Ticktum.

Ticktum pulled off a brilliant double-pass on Norris and Günther around the outside of Lisboa to move up to third, with Sette Camara and Habsburg dueling for position right the way to the finish.

Habsburg attempted a brave pass around the outside of the Mandarin kink, but was forced to wait until the penultimate straight before he got a tow and was able to pass for the lead.

Drama then struck when both Habsburg and Sette Camara ran wide and crashed into the wall exiting the final fast right-hander by their own accord, paving the way for Ticktum to charge through to victory.

Norris and Ralf Aron benefited from the crashes to score second and third place respectively, while Habsburg was able to get to the checkered flag in fourth on three wheels.